Gohyang, located on Route 9 in Hadley, MA, is a small Korean restaurant and grocery serving some pretty decent food from a reasonably wide menu. The quality of the food does not quite match that of my personal favorite, Manna House, but the menu is much more varied, and they have beer! Not much beer, but still, it's there; that's an improvement over Manna House at this point. After planning on hitting Dirty Truth for some food and drinks the other night with my friend Sean, we had to detour back to his place in Hadley to feed his (ridiculously adorable and allergenic) kitten, and decided instead to just go to Gohyang instead of heading back to Northampton. It turned out to be a good decision.
We ordered a ton of food, with the theory that we'd have plenty of leftovers to take home for lunch the next day. This turned out to be wrong, as I left with enough for a very small lunch or a moderate snack the next day, and Sean was nice enough to not split the small remaining portion. We started out with a couple appetizers, the pa jeon (scallion pancake) and some dumplings, which I can't recall the name of. The scallion pancake was fantastic, crispy on the outside and soft and doughy on the inside; they do this better than most places I have been, to be sure, and they serve it with a mild soy based sauce that does not have a ton of flavor but doesn't take anything away either. The dumplings were fine, nothing special, and bordering on boring; they certainly do not match up to those of Manna House, but they are not the same variety. I think it was a pork based filling, and this was the part that was really bland, and required a sauce that was much more interesting than that which was served with it and the pancake.
For the main courses, we went with kalbi (galbi), bibim bap, and ojing oh bokum, the latter two being my favorite Korean dishes. The kalbi was great, fatty, succulent, and salty, and is a very well done dish. I love that they do not trim all the fat off the meat before cooking it, as you get a much richer beef flavor than if you cut it all off; after all, fat is flavor. The bibim bap, which had some grilled pieces of chicken, was good, nothing super special; the best part was the crispy rice that came from the bottom hot kettle like dish it was served in. Again, Manna House does a better job, but this was perfectly acceptable. The ojing oh bokum was disappointing, but still tasty; the squid was overcooked and rubbery, the sauce was weak and barely spicy, and the vegetables were limp and lifeless. It is not among their best offerings.
I know this makes it seem like we had a bad meal; we didn't! It was actually a really good, really tasty dinner, and we ate a ton. It is just that I tend to compare my meals to the best of the same variety, and this does not match up to the better Korean restaurants I have been to. I enjoy going to Gohyang, but it is simply not as good Manna House. They do do a couple things better, including the pa jeon, and they offer far more banchan (the small dishes that come with every meal) than Manna House, with much greater variety. This is, like most Korean joints, vegetarian friendly. They also offer the option of a more traditional seating, with short legged tables and pillows on which to sit. Among the beers offered are a few Berkshire Brewing Company 22oz bottles, along with some other, more mass produced options.
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