Goat Feast at Bangane
Should the adventurous epicure with an outsized appetite seek a large format feast addressed to goat meat, a sojourn to Bangane is a must. The pride of Bangane is baebaji sooyuk—the restaurant's slang for the boiled belly and rib portion of goat meat. The first course arrives as an entire side of boiled on-the-bone goat, impressively large and gloriously primal. After two-thirds or so of the steamed goat belly has been picked through, the remaining meat and buchu is transferred to a vigorously boiling stew; service is concluded with a course of bokkeumbap, fresh rice that's been lightly fried in the remaining stew and dressed with strips of roasted seaweed and a squirt of sesame oil.
Bangane: 16519 Northern Blvd, Flushing, NY 11358 (map); 718-762-2799
Beef Broth at Geum Sung Chik Naengmyun
This restaurant the Murray Hill neighborhood of Flushing specializes in their namesake dish, chik naengmyun, cold arrowroot noodles. But what makes this preparation truly special is the base of irresistible home brewed beef broth, yook soo, which they expertly ply into a variety of classic Korean dishes. It's not a particularly fatty or unctuous broth, nor is it salty or overly redolent of aromatics and herbs. Instead, this moo juice conveys clean beefy flavors which elevate anything it touches. It even comes in a teapot, meant to be consumed during the meal, complimentary along with your standard assortment of banchan. Yes, hot beef tea—simultaneously low-brow and brilliant, and you'll want to drink teapot after teapot of this stuff.
Geum Sung Chik Naengmyun: 40-07 149th Pl, Flushing NY 11354 (map); 718-539-4596
Most Korean BBQ spots serve thin slices of short rib cut flanken-style (perpendicular to the bone). At Mapo, the ribs come as a full 2-whole-rib slab cut off the bone just before grilling. It's finely scored for tenderness, very lightly marinated, and heavily marbled—looking at it, you could easily believe that it's a Kobe beef flatiron. A bucket of glowing hot coals are brought to your table and deposited in the cavity in the center. After the reasonably friendly (but very efficient) waitress helps grill your meat, she snips it to pieces with a pair of scissors for you to wrap in emerald green lettuce with a dollop of spicy and savory ssamjang and raw onions marinated in a light soy broth. It's heavenly stuff.
Mapo BBQ: 14924 41st Avenue, Flushing, NY 11355 (map); 718-886-8292
Seasonal Korean at Joo Mak Gol
It's impossible not to smile as a spread of banchan, soups, rice, and other dishes are plunked before you. Like any good Korean restaurant, Joo Mak Gol is generous with the portions, though in this case, they're generous to a fault. At some point, the wooden table disappeared under a sea of dishes, and they began to stack one upon the other to create space—or perhaps we weren't eating fast enough. The restaurant carries the familiar line-up of Korean stews, grilled proteins and stir fries, but they excel at what is ostensibly "rabbit food"—their lofty respect for seasonal green vegetables and their amazing homemade dwenjang (salty fermented bean paste), which they integrate into their food as well as sell by the container.
Joo Mak Gol: 3526 Farrington St, Flushing NY 11354 (map); 718-460-0042
Pork Belly at Tong Samgyeop Gui
An order of samgyeopsal (pork belly) comes as two generous slabs to an order and includes all you care to eat fixings, including napa cabbage kimchi, kongnamul (seasoned bean sprouts), and a bottomless basket of leafy green lettuce. The cooking surface and implements may be within reach, but the diner's job is to relax, sip on a cold Korean beer, slurp a complimentary bowl of satisfyingly funky kongnamul guk (bean sprout soup), and observe the restaurant staff transform raw ingredients into something truly delicious. At just the right juncture, when the pork has been cooked to an irresistible crispiness and just the right amount of lingering juiciness, dive in and begin eating.
Tong Samgyeop Gui: 162-23 Depot Rd, Queens, NY 11358 (map); 718-359-4583