Swish by Han

Travel to me = the opportunity to try new restaurants. This might explain why I always gain weight when I travel. :P My sister had heard about a new "upscale" Korean restaurant with great bi-bim-bap (which when literally translated means rubbed rice - sounds good doesn't it?) So my aunt, mom, sister and I went to Swish by Han.

First thing you notice when you walk in, is there aren't that many tables and it is decorated better than most Korean restaurants. Looking at the menu, the next thing you see is that this is likely going to cost much more than your typical Korean meal. Oh well... It is only Christmas once a year. I might as well enjoy my dinner. :D

Our first course was a hae mul pa jeon (aka seafood crepe/pancake.) The only issue with pa jeon's in general is the pa which is green onions. I HATE onions. So I am giving you the concensus around the table, that it tasted good since I did not eat any of it. I can attest to the fact that the salad under the pa jeon was very tasty. The seafood pancake looked like it had much better ingredients than your typical Korean seafood pancake which usually only has octopus legs. This one had octopus, big juicy (looking) shrimp, and scallops. My family thought it was a bit salty though. This was $10.

Next up was the famous lobster bi-bim-bap (I guess this is a follow up to my fabulous lobster risotto at Mis Trucos last week) This was my favourite dish. First because I love bi-bim-bap, and secondly because this one had an amazing amount of "nu-run-gi" the crispy rice that forms from the hot stone pot. Mmmmm... I really enjoyed this dish, my mom and aunt thought it was salty - I didn't find it too salty... but then again I do like my salt. Was this dish worth $18? Maybe... after all it did have the nice crisp nu-run-ji

Our third dish was a pork belly ssam (i.e. wrap). This one was tasty, but given that it was pork belly, it was fatty and a little overcooked on the hotplate. It came with ssam jang (hot red pepper paste) lettuce and kimchi - after all this is Korean food, it wouldn't be complete without kimchi

Once wrapped you end up with this photo on the side, which you pull
together into a small bundle and pop into your mouth (this is never done very gracefully since sauce is always dripping out of the lettuce.) It was tasty, but not worth the $16 since for $2 more I could have had the lobster bi-bim-bap which was way better.

Our final dish was what they call swish aka shabu shabu. They have several different flavours beef, seafood, and mushroom (sorry for all of you vegetarians out there... I do not understand how you can give up the glorious flavours of meat and seafood!) We ordered the seafood (clearly no vegetarians in my family!)

The best part of this dish were the handmade noodles that came after the seafood was all eaten. Reminded me of the cal gook su my grandmother used to make (sniff). The scallops were cut too thin so they were over cooked in seconds. Everything else was ok, but not "damn I need to go back again" good. At $30 I would probably skip this dish.

Finally we topped it off with some coffee pat bing su. This is one of a few Korean desserts. It is shaved ice topped with pat (red bean paste) ice cream. Usually there is some fruit on it, but in this case there was coffee and cinnamon. The first one that came the red bean that was in it had gone bad and it was sour. More than a little off putting. But... since it is my sister's favourite Korean food she asked for a second one. This one was much better and while me, my mom and my aunt each had one bite, my sister devoured the whole thing. I think the green tea pat bing su would have been better, but they were out of green tea ice cream. :(

All said and done I was stuffed, would I come again? Maybe for lunch, just for the lobster bi-bim-bap. I'd skip the rest of it.

Rating 2.5/5 (-1 for minor faults in food, -1.5 for serving rancid pat)

Mis Trucos

Ok. So this restaurant is a tiny little tapas restaurant. I had (yet another) groupon deal for this and I hadn't seen my friend Connie in ages so we met there. I walked in at 6, it is early, and only a couple other tables are seated. It might seat a grand total of 30 people. The walls are white, except for a few spots painted black and marked up with chalk. I love that there is a "blackboard" you can draw on in the bathroom. :)

I've also noticed a bit of a trend... I only blog about restaurants where I have ordered shitloads of food to photograph. Perhaps it is because I don't have anything really witty to say... just love eating. ;)

I started off with a French 75 which was made with a little Bombay Sapphire, some lemon, some cava and a cherry. Mmmm... tasty. (No photo. I drank it too fast!) By the time Connie arrived I was looking forward to our 6 course tasting menu.

Course 1 - Squid Ragu
So the first course was a squid ragu with a piece of garlic toast. This dish, was rather garlicky (which I LOVE) so it was good... but no kissing afterwards. I would have liked to have some more garlic toast to sop up all that ragu goodness. I was glad that there was still some of the baguette left that we started munching on (but at $3 for about a quarter of a baguette... I don't know if the bread was worth it)

Ah... a well cooked scallop is one of the quickest ways to my heart! :) This course was a seared scallop with crispy pancetta on a squash puree and I don't remember what the foam was. The scallop was well cooked and the pancetta - sigh - when isn't crispy bacon good? The squash puree, well, was a bit of an afterthought. It didn't really add too much flavour, although it might have cut the saltiness of the pancetta a bit. And, like I said earlier, I don't remember the foam. :P

Course #3

I think this was one of my favourites. Sea bream (which is actually a rather ugly fish). Cooked beautifully. The skin was super crispy which is the only way that I will eat fish skin. Mmm. It was served over a bed of pine nuts, raisins and something else which my woefully short term memory has forgotten.

Course #4 was my least favourite.

This was the chef's take on "Pork and beans." It was a crispy pork belly seated on creamy beans topped with a quail's egg. Issue #1. Quail's egg wasn't fully cooked. Now I understand that most people like their eggs this way, but I HATE runny egg yolks. Chalk it up to my paranoia about salmonella. Issue #2 the crispy pork belly, while flavour wise was good, texture wise it left much to be desired. The fat in this piece of deep fried pork belly was not cooked and so was soft and chewy rather than rendered down. :( Finally, beans are beans, and they have never been my favourite (other than garbanzo beans in the form of hummus!)

But the chef saved the best savoury dish for last. Lobster risotto. MMMMMMM!!!!
This creamy concoction had loads of flavour and a surprisingly large amount of lobster. What a fantastic end to the tasting menu.

The dinner was summed up with a panna cotta topped with diced pear and a caramel almond crunch. The pear and caramel topper added a nice texture to the creaminess of the panna cotta.

I can't say that this was the best dessert I've ever had, but it was better than the chocolate pudding that I had at the Market by Jean-Georges earlier in the day.

All said and done, I felt like I had eaten too much. Would I go back again? Absolutely! :) I think next time though I won't do the tasting menu and just go for some of their tapas items + the lobster risotto.

Rating: 4/5 Everything wasn't perfect so no perfect score.. but a respectable 4/5 and definitely worth going back for.