Thursday, October 30, 2008


1989 Silver Bell Road
Eagan, MN 55122

Here's a little non-typical blog about a place that should be more well known than it is...

It is a firm belief of mine that everyone should experience Asian cuisine at least once in their life. I'm not talking Panda Express at the mall food court (although I do enjoy a little chicken and mushroom to fuel me for shopping...but why are they always trying to get me to 'try sample?' I'm going to buy the food, save yourself the trouble). There are tons of places to visit in the Twin Cities, many of which are delicious and pretty true to their origins, but there's one in particular more people need to know about - HOBAN! Given, this is a Korean person's opinion (adopted, but kimchee still runs in my veins from the womb days), but I think you should trust me on this one. I can say with 99% certainty that you'll enjoy what Hoban has to offer.

Located in Eagan, Hoban has made it's home in a small strip for over 15 years. Surrounded by a McDonald's, Domino's delivery, and a gas station, the area seems unusual for a restaurant of this nature. However, just this summer they closed down (I almost had a heart attack) for renovation and expansion sake. It was closed for 3 months (longest 3 month of my life!). The dining area almost tripled in size, they got new booths, and metal chopsticks that Mr. Bottenfield will never agree with. I guess the strip mall is treating the Hoban well. To me this means the place is worth a visit, even if it is a little out of the way.

I've ate there countless times, so I'm going to give you the lowdown on may want to grab a pen.

Hoban is located at the end of a strip. Just drive on down through the lot, there's tons of parking, and if you have the correct address you can't miss it... time is calling. I'll finish you later.

Here are the basics of Hoban:
a. There is plenty of seating so a reservation is not really necessary. I think I've waited once at Hoban, but that was before the renovation and there was less seating. Come to think of it I've never tried to make a reservation. If you can stand the possibility of waiting 10 minutes you'll never have to worry about going to Hoban on a whim.

b. You get water (just like at every other restaurant) but I recommend trying some ginseng tea (Mr. Bottenfield always gets this) or if you're adventurous and of age try the soju. I would desribe soju as the Budweiser of Korea. Not because it's piss water, but because everyone in Korea drinks it.
What I learned about - SOJU

Soju is a distilled alcoholic beverage native to Korea. While it is tradionally made from rice, most major brands supplement or ever replace the rice with other starches such as potato, wheat, barley, sweet potato, or tapioca. Soju is clear and varies in alcohol content from 20% to 45%...this isn't moonshine people.

The taste of Soju is comparable to vodka, only not as strong (less alcohol content) and slightly sweeter because of the sugars added during the manufacturing process.

Soju is traditionally drunk in group gatherings (I consider 2 people to be enough of a group) and poured into individual shot glasses. Korean custom frowns upon filling your own glass. Allowing someone else to do it promotes the idea of thoughtfulness and friendship.

Mr. Bottenfield and I will take credit for getting Soju put on the new menu at Hoban. They served it before, but didn't have it listed so you had to make a special request. WOW! and just now reading their website I see they have added a large selection of Soju to choose from. I'd stick with the Chamisul, this is the most popular brand in South Korea.

c. 'So You've Decided to Try Banchan'. Banchan is a Korean meal tradition served at the beginning that involves a variety of small side dishes. They can be eaten alone or be mixed with the meal. Hoban always serves this to it's customers. It typically consists of Kimchee, potatoes, kongnamul (bean sprout salad), and other pickled vegetables.

d. Appitizers at Hoban are great. I would highly recommend trying a couple, or at least the Man Doo. Man Doo is a small fried dumpling filled with beef and vegetables. You can't really go wrong here. I also recommend the Bin Dae Tuk which is a Korean-style soybean pancake cooked with green onions and carrots.

A little side note: Since expanding their restaurant Hoban has added numerous new food items to their menu. My suggestion is don't be shy when you order. Also, sharing is always acceptable. Bring a group, order a variety and try a little bit of everything.

e. Here are my top 5 picks for entrees, then you're on your own.

1. Bulgogi (seen left): thinly sliced beef marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, sugar, green onions and pepper. Flamed grilled with onions and served with rice.

2. Dolsot Bibimbob: Sizzling rice (served in a hot stone bowl) topped with carrots, spinach, raddish, mushrooms, bean sprouts, carrots, kimchee, sliced beef and a fried egg. Comes with a special hot sauce. Try mixing everything together, add a little sauce, and let it continue to cook in the hot bowl.

3. Kimbap: I'll note that this might be a little more on the adventurous side. For those of you who enjoy sushi you should try this one. It's served warm (no raw fish), but it has that sushi like appeal with the seaweed. Kimbap is a tradional Korean rice and seaweed roll filled with beef, egg, carrot, and yellow radish. Comes with a house dipping sauce, awesome!

4. Kimchee Bokum: Again, this is for the more adventurous, but if you like Kimchee you will absolutely love this dish. Pork, Kimchee, rice patties, onions, green onions, and a side of fresh (cold) tofu. I'm pretty sure they created this dish just for me.

5. Chap Chae: Clear vermicelli noodles, sliced pork, and sauteed vegetables. Don't get this dish expecting a lomein-type thing from a fast food joint. Clear (rice) vermicelli noodles are much different from typical stir-fry noodles. You should probably just try it.

So, what else can I say. Hoban is good food. The selection is great and true to it's origin. Go there and tell them I sent you. Just kidding.


Photos courtesy of

Hoban on Urbanspoon

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