Traditionally centered around W. 32nd Street, Eater recently lamented how NYC’s Koreatown has slowly lost its mom-and-pop authenticity to an encroachment of chain restaurants. As happens these days.
But just 13 blocks to the south (in the Flatiron), Hwaban is undertaking to reinvigorate the Korean dining experience, with the sort of rarefied elegance usually reserved for upscale French establishments. Indeed, working with interior designers Super Paprika, chef Mihyun Han and her restaurateur husband Key Kim have cultivated a space that decidedly lives up to the restaurant’s name – which translates to “as beautiful as a flower.”
The stark but exquisite sophistication of the white brick walls, white marble tables and sleek, seductively grey banquettes still allow the gaze to focus on the stunning floral arrangements adorning the dining room, which are switched up at regular intervals. Although it must be said that the plates being delivered to those marble tabletops are equally artistically realized. Indeed, from the scallop crudo to the lotus root salad, the kimchi stew to the poached lemon sole, the presentation is nothing shy of ethereal.
For the most transcendent epicurean experience, bring some worthy friends and opt for the Hwaban Table (similar to the Dutch-Indonesian rijsttafel), which offers an impressive assortment of specialties from the all-around superlative menu.
Hwaban is open seven days a week.