Move aside takeaways and all-you-can-eat buffets, Han Court is proof that there is much more to love about Chinese food.
Why it’s on my list
Chinese food is a crowd pleaser, whether the ideal is a trayful of chips doused in Chinese-takeaway-style curry sauce or a banquet of dishes, each starring a different meat and sauce. In North Devon, Han Court has a reputation for delivering the best in the case of the latter. The menu includes scallops, lobster and fillet steak cooked in various ways, as well as the classics such as sweet and sour pork. The menu looks good, but when it comes to putting words into practice, is this reputation well deserved?
Location:Main Road, Fremington
Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday, 5.30pm to 10.30pm
To book: call 01271 373865 to book a table. You can also order a takeaway by calling this number.
When it comes to eating Chinese cuisine, it’s all about the taste. You could be at the dingiest, back-alley restaurant, but if the food is amazing then it doesn’t matter. Han Court is no back-alley restaurant, but it certainly delivers on taste and the dishes we enjoyed added up to a very special evening. The quality of the ingredients and respect shown for them when cooked makes dining at Han Court a real experience of appreciation.
What we had
To start we ordered the OK spare ribs. I have heard that these are unique to Han Court in North Devon and they make for a great start to a meal, despite the naming of the dish! The ribs are rolled in a flour coating that crisps up beautifully when the ribs are deep fried, and they are then tossed in a sweet, fruity sauce.
As a second course we had the classic quarter of crispy duck – roasted duck; pancakes; spring onion, carrot and cucumber; and two sauces, hoisin and a spicier sauce with a hint of fish.
For the main course we ordered Cantonese chicken, which is another Han Court exclusive. Similarly to the OK spare ribs, the chicken is coated in flour and deep fried, before being smothered in a sweet, fruity sauce.
We also ordered a large sea bass. The sea bass was steamed and served with ginger and spring onion with a light and delicate sauce.
And the classic accompaniment of fried rice finished off our order.
The sea bass was sensational. A good job it was too as the large portion was enough for about four people! It was delicious and perfectly cooked, so we devoured it easily between the two of us. Sea bass cooked respectfully is a lovely treat and in this case it certainly was, making this meal a real special occasion. I would guess at the sauce being a mix of sherry and a fragrant oil, perhaps sesame, but whatever the secret sauce was it went extremely well with the soft and flaky meat of the sea bass.
Not the best
The OK spare ribs and Cantonese chicken were both delicious, but the sauce tasted like it was on the point of burning. It was by no means burnt, but it was distinctly on the verge of it. For some people this may add to the taste, but for myself it detracted from the sweetness and fruitiness of the sauce.
As I said though, the two dishes were still delicious with the ribs themselves crispy and juicy, and the chicken likewise, so I would definitely recommend ordering them.
Han Court certainly looks the part from the outside, with a pretty tiled roof, and on the inside the decoration looks classy, with orchids, white tablecloths and Asian decorations on the walls that show real craftsmanship. There are plenty of tables and chairs, and the larger tables come with lazy susans.
The only thing that let it down slightly was the napkins, which were of the disposable variety. Given the appearance of the venue and the quality of ingredients on the menu, I expected a cloth napkin to match. In the grand scheme of things this doesn’t make too much of a difference.
Always ask what fresh fish they have in stock. Whether they can serve it depends on availability, so you’ll save yourself disappointment and also get to enjoy truly fantastic food if you check whether or not they have lobster, turbot, sea bass and scallops in stock before deciding what to order.