For months, yes months…. I have been chatting up friends and family, trying to sway all – someone – anyone, to explore Koreatown NYC with me. All my attempts failed and then failed again. How frustrating! I mean, all I am offering is a unique dining experience – in MY scintillating company! Seriously, what’s not to like?!!!!
Finally I gave up and decided that I don’t need anyone else’s company for this special experience. Me and I will shall have a jolly good time exploring the hidden delights of K-Town all by ourselves. So off we went.
It is incredible how K-Town completely transforms a block in the heart of Manhattan into a unique cultural experience. 32nd street between Broadway and 5th is jam-packed with Korean restaurants, spas and most importantly Karaoke clubs. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the Korean lifestyle.
While K-Town is not large, I have a lot to explore in terms of the food-scene. So far I have tried just two restaurants. Dong Chun Hong (a Korean-Chinese place) and Kunjip (Korean BBQ place). Each gave me remarkably unique experiences.
At first glance Dong Chun Hong looked neat and appealing, so I decided to give it my first try. It is a more westernized menu. I was disappointed that they even have the most popular Korean eats like Kimchi and Bibimbap! The restaurant appears to be a favorite of younger generation. – who all seemed to be having a meal with friends before rushing off to some Karaoke club no doubt. The menu choices drew blurry lines between Korean and Chinese cuisine. Some things here were dynamite, yet the others were just meh. The Spicy Fried Dumplings (Mae Un Goon Mandu) and the Spicy Seafood Noodle Soup (Seafood Jjamppong) are a must try if you find yourselves at Dong Chun Hong. Both had totally exciting and unique flavor profiles.
However, Dong Chun Hong left me feeling like I had not really experienced the true Koreatown food yet. So off I went the following week to explore further. The item on the agenda was Korean BBQ. This time I headed straight for Kunjip – famous for its BBQ. I was delighted to get seated right away, and even more excited when I noticed Bibimbap on the menu and then realized that complimentary serving of Kimchi comes to every table no matter what. JACKPOT!!!
I have to say, this meal rendered me speechless. There was SO MUCH food at my table that I felt like a foodie with a problem. Don’t get me wrong, all I ordered was one BBQ item and a Squid Bibimbap. What I got in addition to my order was bowls after bowls of all kinds of condiments, pickles, veggies and what not – all complimentary. There were so many unique flavors, temperatures and textures going on around my table….. sweet, spicy, savory, sour, hot, cold, crunchy, chewy, soft – you name it! The best part was that I could eat each item in any order I wanted. I got to make my own unique dining experience. And I loved every minute of it!!!
It is so neat that the BBQ cooking actually happens right at the diner’s table on a grill. The aromas and sights tantalized me and got me all revved up for my first bite. This is truly a memorable meal- one that I am determined to experience again – this time, hopefully with my friends and family.
Dong Chun Hong, New York City | http://www.dongchunhongnyc.com
Kunjip, New York City | http://www.kunjip.net