Really basic standard dishes, like Bul Go Ki ($8.95), were underwhelming: The meat was dry, nearly cold, and served on a bed of almost raw onions. Usually it's stickily sauced and sizzling. Hot soups, served in little cast-iron cauldrons, were notable mainly for how outrageously hot they were: They're served at a full rolling boil, and remain that way, bubbling, sputtering, spitting hot steam, and splashing hot broth for three minutes or so. The seafood one I tried, the Sangsun Maeun Tang ($8.95), had a flavorful broth, but the fish chunks, big bone-laden cross sections of something silver-skinned, had the dry foamy taste I associate with freezer burn. The Hae Mul Pajun ($12.95), an egg-and-scallion pancake full of seafood, was the best thing I had there because it was freshly made and full of scallions, but honestly I've had better: The shrimp and scallops were of the teeny-tiny, rubbery, low-budget variety.

The service was friendly enough, but had a certain laissez-faire,que-sera-sera aspect to it: The staff seemed to spend most of its time in the kitchen, but on one of the periodic sweeps through the dining room, the servers would get a lot done, which seemed admirable. My second visit was equally lackluster. If I lived in Bloomington, Apple Valley, or Eagan I bet I'd go to Hoban a lot and stick to the absolutely plainest dishes, like Bi Bim Bob ($7.95), which is essentially a vegetable stir-fry. But I don't, so I won't.

My favorite thing about Hoban was the dance school next door--trophies are stacked from floor to ceiling in the picture windows, and through their small super-shiny posts you can see lots of little girls hopping around and doing backflips and handsprings. It's very charming. So here's this week's lesson: Don't let the manure lagoons get you down, for they're hand-springing in Eagan.

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