Walking into Hwang you are instantly hit with colour – bright yellows, vibrant pinks and majestic purple and gold. The very name Hwang has an imperial background as a historical surname of Chinese Emperors and means ‘yellow’ or ‘gold’. Yellow decorative wall plaques, glasses and vases are used to stunning effect in the far eastern design scheme of this elegant dining space.
The art pieces by Jacinthe Lamontagne-Lecomte add to Hwang’s thoughtful interior. Her ‘Made in Asia’ exhibition is displayed here and diners should try to take a moment to have a look at the various mixed-media canvases.
I went to Hwang for lunch service to sample their latest ‘Taste of South Korea’ promotion. Intercontinental has brought in three Chefs from South Korea to bring the authentic flavours and food culture from the Korean peninsula. For lunch diners can choose a dosirak or bento lunch box, or they can choose from the a la carte menu.
A dish for the daring is the Yuk Hwe (beef tartare) which was prettily presented on slices of kiwi fruit – raw beef simply seasoned with a little salt and pepper. I did try this dish but it wasn’t something that my palate enjoyed. On the other hand I really enjoyed the Bulgogi – thinly sliced beef seared with carrots and onions and soy sauce. The interesting thing about this dish was the introduction to Korean soy sauce which had gave a sweet taste to the dish.
Korean cuisine use simple ingredients but the techniques and skill, as presented by the InterContinental Chefs, have created some fantastically flavourful dishes. The gochujang (chilli paste) and kimchi (fermented cabbage) have been brought directly from South Korea. The Chefs have also taken their time to create their own sauces. The chilli paste has a secret ingredient in it (a certain soft drink brand) which helps bring some sweetness and acidity to enhance the flavour of the chilli. (Thank you to Phia, Assistant Restaurant Manager at Hwang, who provided an insight into the dishes and menu.)
The Kimchi pancake was moreish with crisp kimchi flavour – I know I will definitely be craving this as a midday snack. The dosirak also contained healthy Chabgok-bab (multigrain rice) which was lovely mixed with the bulgogi. I also enjoyed the Spicy Squid Salad which reminded me of kimchi – it is actually prepared in a similar way to kimchi, with the vegetables and squid left to marinate in gochujang for several hours. Again another dish I will be craving in the future – crisp, crunchy and infused with spicy flavour!
The dessert that comes in the dosirak is a lovely little rice puff cookie known as Han Guo. Brought over from South Korea by the Chefs it is a ready-made item, that is served with a punchy ginger and cinnamon infusion. Apparently, you eat the cookie and then sip the drink so that the flavours mingle. It is a lovely little cookie with a slightly sweet exterior, whilst the Sujeonggwa drink had a chewy dried persimmon surprise at the bottom of the cup which reminded me of dates.
The bento box contains small portions of a number of the dishes on offer, and as such it is perfect as a sampling of South Korean cuisine – it is priced at 90 QR. For those looking to try more South Korean dishes be sure to have a look at the a la carte menu (it has different options for lunch and dinner) with dishes such as Galbi, Bibimbap, Dak Jimm and Tangsuyuk.
The Bibimbap (mixed rice and vegetables) is a fun dish as you have to add the gochujang into the dish and mix all the ingredients together. It is a warm and comforting dish – perfect for sharing. The dish comes in a clay pot which is hot. This is because the thin strips of beef are raw and by mixing the ingredients you cook it in the hot pot. It’s a dish packed with ingredients from mushrooms and spinach to the lovely sunny-side up egg that tops off the dish. Just mix thoroughly and enjoy with kimchi!
One of my favourites was the Tangsuyuk (sweet and sour chicken) which was addictively tasty – again great comfort food. The breaded chicken is fried and then cooked in a wok with a spicy tomato-based Korean sauce that has been heavily reduced to trap all that flavourful goodness. It was a slightly sweet, spicy and crisp chicken dish. I had a lovely zingy mocktail with my dish which contained masses of lemon juice and passion fruit – it helped counterbalance the chicken dish. Perfection!
All the dishes that I enjoyed had a similar theme of big flavour but simple preparations, so that the ingredients still had some body to them. The food of South Korea is not just to be eaten but you can also feast with your eyes, as the decorative elements of each dish are placed delicately and precisely to artistic effect. Ingredients are prepared simply but the food screams flavour through the use of complex sauces and seasoning. However, some thought is also given to the properties of food and ingredients are used to help aid digestion and for their health benefits. For example the Sujeonggwa is an excellent palate cleanser and helps to aid digestion, and the fermented kimchi is also great for digestion.
The ‘Taste of South Korea’ event has been running for a few weeks now and will end on Monday 8th June. It is available at Hwang and The Square at InterContinental Doha The City. Also don’t forget to enter the competition to win a three night trip for two to Seoul, South Korea. The prize includes Business Class tickets compliments of Qatar Airways and accommodation at Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas.
For bookings call 4015 8888 or email [email protected] for more information.
Hwang: Opening Times 12pm-3pm and 6pm-11pm.
The Square: Opening Times 12pm-3pm and 6pm-11pm.
Qatar Eating was a guest of Hwang Restaurant.