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.
'koreatown' on Serious Eats
Coffee and Danish lovers rejoice. Paris Baguette has you covered with their new all-in-one Coffee-Danish ($2.50). The lightly sweetened pastry combines an almond flour dough and a thick coffee coating.
This dessert is really a cross between a verrine (parfait) and a fruit tart. Two layers of green tea sponge cake are surrounded by a delicious green tea pastry cream with just a hint of sweetness.
This decidedly unconventional canele has a lot going for it for less than $2 a pop, including real vanilla beans and a delicious custard-like interior.
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.
Nothing about the Ho-Dduk is over-the-top. It doesn't have to be. The dessert is successful because it's a yeasty, flavorful dough-pocket served hot off the griddle—and what's not to like about that?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tous Les Jours, a chain of French-Asian bakeries from Korea, recently replaced Koryodang on 32nd Street. There's a significant amount of overlap between the types of pastries and sweets offered at this new bakery, and one of my favorites is the Honey Castella ($3.75).
Last week I ate lot of white to yellowish foods, like bananas, oatmeal, white bread, and congee. The blander, the better. The highlight of my week of hue-less, toothless eating was without question the noodles I consumed at Arirang, a noodle shop in Koreatown.
Kristalbelli, the new upscale restaurant in Koreatown, is Korean barbecue that has been elevated to theater. In the attempt to create the perfect Korean barbecue experience, nothing was left to chance.
Koreatown, the block of 32nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, is a densely packed smorgasbord of Korean food. With restaurants lined up side by side and stacked on top of each other, the competition for your stomach and your wallet is intense. You can choose from Korean cafeterias, tiny kimbap joints, Korean-Chinese restaurants, multi-level eateries with elaborate waterfalls, and on and on. And among that glorious hodgepodge, you find Korean bakeries stuffed with over-the-top sweet and savory specialties. If you want to understand what makes a living, morphing fusion cuisine, Paris Baguette is a good place to start.
For a fast, reliable lunch in the Herald Square area, Woorijip has been my go-to spot for years. The food here may not be excellent, but it's always dependable.
This is one you'll just want to toast and eat plain; no butter or jam, for it has plenty of flavor on its own.
It's hard to duplicate the almost otherworldly experience of dining at a Korean food court without catching a plane to Seoul—but Food Gallery 32, the new food court in the middle of Manhattan's Koreatown, is pretty otherworldly in its own right. That it's a fun place almost goes without saying—but what about the food?