Based on the name and some quick browsing of the menu, I figured it was a Korean restaurant. And I’d only be partly correct, because it is perhaps more appropriate to call it a Taiwanese-style Korean restaurant. This is not the more authentic experience I had at Koreatown’s BCD Tofu House in Los Angeles. I should also preface this by saying it’s not the kind of communal hot pot cooking that you’d find at some other restaurants.
In any case, Han Ju Tofu Hot Pot is located in Union Square, an outdoor shopping complex along Capstan Way in Richmond. This is the same shopping complex where you’d find Richmond Sushi and Pho Thai Hoa.
It looks like they took some care in designing the menu, providing us with useful pictures and such, but they haven’t exactly taken good care of the menus themselves. They’re pretty beat up, but I suppose they do the job. The star attractions are shown at the top and range in price from $6.25 to $6.95. For each of these, you can choose how spicy you would like your food, ranging from non-spicy to very spicy.
Being run by Taiwanese people, Han Ju Tofu Hot Pot also serves bubble tea. We opted for a sizable glass of milk green tea ($2.75), but didn’t get the pearls (a $0.50 option).
What you see here is #3: Korean Style Noodle Pot. It doesn’t look at all like the picture in the menu, though it’s similar in spirit. You get some seafood (shrimp, mussels, and squid), tofu, sliced pork, egg, and udon. I found there was actually very little food in this hot pot and, although we asked for “medium spicy,” it wasn’t really all that spicy at all. At $6.25, it’s not expensive, but I wanted more seafood and more pork.
Again, as is the norm with Taiwanese restaurants, you have the opportunity to choose a range of appetizers and side dishes. I thought about getting marinated pork ear, which I really enjoy, but we went with the marinated seaweed string ($1.75) instead. Ironically, the seaweed string had a very similar “crunchy yet squishy” texture to pork ear. It wasn’t anything particularly special, but I liked it.
And this is #5: Korean Style BBQ with Rice ($6.95). I thought this was much better than the tofu hot pot. It’s served in a flat round bowl-like plate with a decent amount of Korean style BBQ pork, some vegetables, spicy tofu, and a fried egg on rice. I was disappointed that the egg was already fully cooked by the time it got to the table, since I prefer to let the egg yolk run over my rice when it comes to a bibimbap-like dish.
I have to say that I was slightly disappointed with Han Ju Tofu Hot Pot. It’s not bad, but it’s not anywhere near exceptional either. The level of care is definitely lacking and service was quite slow. The Korean style BBQ with rice was decent and prices are reasonable.
Ironically, I don’t think I would recommend the hot pots at this hot pot restaurant. Stick with the rice. I did see a couple of tables order the fried chicken, though, and that’s something I’d like to try if I were to visit Han Ju again.