Khan Guk Kvan/Хангуккван
Пр-т. Красного Знамени, д. 45
12 pm – 12 am Daily
Meals from $8.50
My first April entry is dedicated to that wise old adage: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” And indeed this is a phrase that one should always keep in the back of one’s mind when traveling in Russia; there are many “diamond-in-the-rough” experiences here that are easy to miss out on if you are not willing to overlook some minor details. Such was the case with Хангуккван (Khan Guk Kvan), a Korean restaurant that has been sitting under my nose the entire year, but which I had been unwittingly avoiding due to its somewhat suspect-seeming exterior.
Located at most a three-minute walk from the VGUES campus across the pedestrian bridge, Khan Guk Kvan became a natural choice for me only due to the recent slate of downpours in the area (i.e., I didn’t want to stray too far from home in this weather). I walked in expecting to find a dusty, dingy, cramped establishment with ill-prepared food and a churlish wait staff, a scene conjured up in my mind solely by the restaurant’s lackluster exterior. However, my imagination has rarely been so far off base.
Khan Guk Kvan’s interior is not only impeccably clean and pleasantly lit, but it also has an almost museum-like feel, as there are glass panels in the walls that house traditional Korean artifacts of everyday life. The seating area is spacious and well-appointed, and is even equipped with a top-of-the-line plasma TV. Furthermore, the wait staff was very professional, attentive and fast-acting. Most importantly, however, the food was cheap, plentiful and satisfying! From the business lunch menu (regular menu prices are higher), I ordered the guksu plate (soup noodles with egg, vegetables, a little pork, and a spicy topping sauce) for 260 rubles, which came with a small appetizer of preserved mushrooms and beansprouts, as well as tea and an accompanying slice of cake. While not the most incredible meal I’ve ever had, the food was not at all bad, and would do quite nicely for any ordinary sort of occasion, especially considering how well-designed the service plan is for a quick lunch. Also, the portions are the largest I have ever seen in a business lunch setting, so kudos are definitely in order on that front. All things considered, I give Khan Guk Kvan two thumbs up!
For groups and faculty-led tours, I would also recommend Khan Guk Kvan. The food’s pretty good, the service is efficient, and as mentioned above, the dining space is quite airy and expansive. In addition to this, there are private dining rooms off the main floor that I assume one can reserve for group meals.