This Seoul-based chain is founded by comedian, MC, and former professional wrestler Kang Ho Dong, which may lead you to believe that Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong is something of a gag. But on my visit that couldn't be further from the case.
'korean' on Serious Eats
32nd Street's bevy of Korean bar-cum-restaurants reaches optimal productivity between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Who visits K-Town at this hour, and where do they go to eat? We talked to some regulars to find out.
As one of the city's Asian food meccas, Flushing has no shortage of good food courts. But one of the best receives little attention from Yelp or small food blogs, likely for one simple reason: it's a 25-minute walk from the 7 train on Flushing's Union Street in a Korean supermarket chain called H-Mart. Unless you have a car (it's five minutes from the Whitestone bridge that way), Namoodol, the H-Mart's lunch counter, is a trek, but the Korean barbecue and free tea alone are well worth the trip.
Cafe At Your Mother-In-Law, aka Elza Fancy Food, offers authentic Koryo Saram cuisine, the food of ethnically Korean Uzbekistani immigrants.
If you have preconceptions about Asian bakeries selling nothing but cheap, low-quality cakes and buns, Tous Les Jours is there to change your mind.
The heart of the Tiramisu Pastry ($2.50) is essentially a very well executed croissant, with plenty of buttery laminated dough layers that are filled with mascarpone cream and topped with cocoa powder.
Cho Dang Gol's flavors are exemplified by its extraordinary homemade tofu: clean and understated, but wonderfully satisfying. It's a great vegetarian option for midtown diners.
The scallion pancakes at Hanjan are one of the most delicious things I've ever put in my mouth, and I could think of no way upon which it could be improved.
Until ramp season, that is.
Korea Town is one of Manhattan's most exciting food neighborhoods at any time of day, but it really comes alive late at night, when the crowds build and the soju starts flowing. Some late night specialties on our trip: spicy noodle stew with cheese and hot dogs, stir fried blood sausage, Korean fried chicken, and more. Follow along with us after the jump.
We first encountered Hanjoo on its home turf in Korean Flushing, when our man Chris Hansen lavished praise on its crispy and succulent crystal-grilled pork barbecue. We don't see much of the style of barbecue, a shame given the simple brilliance of the concept: Cook pork belly on an inclined plane of quartz over a gas burner. Let drippings fall into a pile of kimchi. Take delight.
So when another branch of Hanjoo opened in the East Village on Saint Mark's Place, we paid a visit quickly, and yup, there was that barbecue pork again, still awesome. But on our first visit and three subsequent trips, the restaurant has been more than half empty during peak hours. This street is a madhouse at night, and neighboring ramen joints and Chinese restaurants do well enough. So why aren't people going here?
It takes a lot for a printed food guide book to feel worth it these days, but the Korean Food Foundation's Korean Restaurant Guide: New York may be one of them. We're giving two of them away right here.
Chef Hooni Kim quckly made a name for himself (and a place in the New York dining lexicon for Bulgogi Sliders) with Danji, his slim, swanky, difficult-to-get-into-but-oh-so-delicious Korean fusion small-plates restaurant in midtown. Hanjan, his new "Korean izakaya,"—an establishment meant for equal parts drinking and dining—does more than live up to that legacy. It sails over it, planting Kim firmly in place as the leader in modern Korean cookery in New York.
Hangawi isn't the place for an everyday meal, to be sure, but as an occasional destination, it's a transporting treat, and one of the best places to eat in K-Town. Totally vegan to boot.
When Ann and Janet Chung were growing up in Texas in the '70s, "being Korean was unusual." So the sisters are thrilled that Korean food is gaining a foothold in mainstream food culture. "When we see kimchi in an American supermarket, it just knocks our socks off," Ann says.
If you were to give cursory notice to Hansol Nutrition Center's epithet, you might dismiss this Flushing restaurant as a health food restaurant. But by most rights, the Korean attitude towards nutrition gives leeway to plenty of flavor, relying on the punch of herbs and the bracing heat of chilies.
Hooni Kim, the Seoul-born chef of Danji and the newly opened Hanjan, tells us where he gets his kimchi, soy sauce, tofu, and more, along with recommendations for a particularly awesome bibimbap.
A handsome bar and pretty hostess meets you when the doors open on the 39th floor. If there's one thing you can say about it, Gaonnuri sure is a looker. I'm not used to being treated this nicely at a Korean restaurant I think to myself as the hostess asks us if we'd like to proceed straight to our table, or perhaps enjoy a drink at the bar first.
A long-term, multi-million dollar project. Gaonnuri's goal is to elevate the Korean food of Manhattan—figuratively and quite literally—serving spruced up, high-end renditions of all of the Korean classics in a spacious and modern dining room that floats high above midtown, the Empire State Building so close you can almost make out the staplers on the office desks. It's the Korean version of the Rainbow Room, and every bit as classy.
My go-to spot for Korean soft tofu soup has always been So Kong Dong in Fort Lee, NJ, a restaurant that serves about a dozen varieties of hot tofu soup and nothing else, unless you count the BBQ kalbi, which nobody seems to order. But after hearing good things about BCD Tofu House, I decided to change it up.
Gannouri, a new Korean restaurant on the 39th Floor of 1250 Broadway in Koreatown, seeks to offer a fine dining atmosphere but its menu isn't jockeying for space with the new wave of high-end Korean restaurants. In fact, the eclectic selection of Korean pancakes, hearty stews, and meats grilled at your table may remind you of other ground floor K-town staples.
This week I thought I would share with you a story of two very different Korean rice cake dishes, at two very different restaurants. I don't know what the moral of the story is, only that the dishes could not have been more different: one makes Korean rice cakes the subject of culinary art; the other smothers them in melted cheese.