Richmond has an overabundance of good Chinese and Japanese food but lacks a lot with Korean food. Sure there's Dai Jang Kum, Kyung Bok Palace, and Woe Ga Jib, but honestly their food is just normal- heavy msg, lots of oil, the same banchans over and over again...I've really been hoping for something cooked with a bit more authentic Korean love. Thankfully I found Haroo when they just opened around 3 years ago. The store looked pretty doubtful at first but I'm so glad I gave it a go cause it's really been my go-to-Korean place these few years. I mean, I've literally converted all my relatives and close friends to "Haroo believers" and that says a lot when I go out and recommend a restaurant to people :) I've been here so many times in the past few years, it's almost hard to count but I can say with confidence that the quality of food and service hasn't gone down at all. It's surprising how little pictures I've taken of the food here since I probably forget about my phone by the time the food comes (rare, I know) so I'm sorry that this post lacks the usual plethora of pictures I have. I'm still disappointed at how they don't open for lunch anymore :( Their special pricing and lunch combos were pretty amazing. At least their dinner menu is just as good, but a bit more on the pricey side.
I'm pretty sure I've had almost everything on the menu (I'm serious) and I can't say I've ever thought any of their dishes were bad.
- Their banchan always changes to different types of pickled vegetables and I love all of them. Rest assured for all you potato lovers out there, gamja jorim is here to stay.
- Some dishes like the japchae and haemul pacheon are less salty and less oily than other places you can get them at and I'm all for it since you can taste a lot more of the actual flavour of the ingredients. Plus, it's a lot healthier.
- I love how the bibimbap always comes with a little cup of specialty congee, it's delicious and I wished they actually had the congee itself as a separate menu item.
- The hot pots are a favourite of my relatives. Rich soup with lots of meat/ingredients.
- Dishes like the LA Kalbi and fried squid are not bad as well. Meat is cooked just right and marinated for maximum flavour.
- I love ddeokbokki everywhere but I like how this one isn't served in a pool of spicy sauce where I have to fish the rice cakes out of. Just the right amount of spicy and sticky chewiness.
- I think their special bibimbap cake is just the cutest. It's basically layers of bibimbap ingredients molded into a flower with a candle in the middle....like
I guess you could compare it to ... a kimbap cake without the seaweed? It's good though :)
*Note: Just like all establishments on Alexandra Road, Haroo also faces problems with parking.. there's never any parking in that small lot upstairs so you'll probably have to improvise and park out on the street where you might have to pay.*
Food quality: 9/10
Service: 9.5/10 (The owners are so friendly and so polite. If they're not too busy, they like explaining the food and all the ingredients used to cook it.)
Atmosphere: 9/10 (I like how they still use metal utensils as opposed to wooden chopsticks and such at other places. I also dig the wooden furniture and unique dishes they have. They're not like generic Ikea plates and bowls. I'd love to say that this is still a relaxing place but since its popularity has sprung up this past year...it's almost always packed and loud with customers :( )
Price/affordability: 7.5-8/10 (Korean food is always expensive but at least the quality here makes up for it.)
Would I go back/recommend this place?: I've already been here too many times to count but yes this place is a must-go!
*Extra note: I've read from other people that there's some ridiculous 15% cake service charge when you bring a cake? I've never brought a cake so I'm not too clear about it all but I'd advise you to to probably avoid bringing cakes when you come here.*