Kingston Eats - Hwaki

Kingston Eats -  Hwaki

269 Princess St, Kingston, ON K7L 1B5(613) 766-9882

Mon:

11:30 am - 9:30 pm

Wed - Thu:

11:30 am - 9:30 pm

Fri - Sat:

11:30 am - 10:00 pm

Sun:

11:30 am - 9:30 pm

 

Sitting inconspicuously on Princess with a plain black and white sign, Hwaki is easy to miss. Having never heard of the restaurant before my visit, I walked in with no expectations for the Asian fusion cuisine.

Although it looks small from the outside like many other stores in downtown Kingston, Hwaki stretches lengthwise, offering spacious and comfortable seating with minimal but tasteful decor. The leather seats and dark colour scheme gives the space a casual atmosphere but with more class than a burger joint. The menu covers an array of foods including sushi (nigiri and sashimi), hotpot, noodles, and Korean barbecue. Although famous for their hotpot, I decided to try the bulgogi bimbimbap for $10.99 and a friend ordered the pork bone soup for the same price.

Like most Korean restaurants, service here starts with some complimentary kimchi, bean sprouts and potatoes. Hwaki's kimchi didn't strike me as unique in any way; it looked and tasted store-bought.  Both the meals came with miso soup and barley rice, which was an interesting combination of Korean and Japanese flavours.

Turning my attention to the main dish, the presentation of the food was appealing and all the essentials of a good bimbimbap seemed to be present – colourful veggies set a on a bed of white rice, topped with sliced meat and an egg, all served in a hot stone bowl. The gochujang or chili pepper paste was served on the side to be added as desired. Everything was perfectly cooked: the egg yolk just runny enough to be mixed in with the rice, the veggies not too soggy or crunchy, and the meat beautifully marinated. However, my only complaint would be that the bowl was not hot enough to allow that addictive, crunchy, golden brown layer of rice to form at the bottom, the defining trait of a good bimbimap.  

Onto the pork bone soup, another traditional Korean dish perfect for the depths of winter when all you want is to fill your belly with hot soups and stews in an attempt to stay warm. Hwaki’s had a delicious, slightly spicy broth with meat that was tender and fell off the bones easily. This soup seemed to be lacking in the vegetable and herb department, but we enjoyed it nevertheless.

Compared to some of the other establishments in the city, with its price tag, the meal at Hwaki was worth every single penny. Although still not quite comparable to a meal in Toronto’s Koreatown, Hwaki is a great place to go with friends to enjoy some authentic Korean smells and flavours. The service can be slow at times with only one waitress but otherwise I will definitely be back to try the Japanese cuisine that they offer. Note: Hwaki does take reservations throughout the week, with the exception of groups larger than 10 on weekends.

4/5 stars