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Aug 18, 2006 08:10 PM

Korean places in Queens

Any recommendations? My husband and I are new to the borough, and though we know there are plenty of places around, especially in Flushing, we don't have a clue about where to start. Also, have people found the Korean food in Queens to be better than in Manhattan's K-town? Thanks.

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  1. you can check on this tiny place at the intersection of union street and 37th ave. in flushing. its diagonally across from the police precinct. they have the best Kalbi i've ever tasted anywhere.

    Its on 37th, its a small place so you should keep an eye out for it.

    1. The Queens scene is far more extensive, to be sure, just in terms of volume alone. To get a sense of it, take a drive along Northern Boulevard between Flushing and Bayside. For long stretches, you'll feel like you're in Seoul. Tons of restaurants to choose from. It drops off, then picks up again in a big way once you hit Little Neck (just west of the Long Island border). In terms of where to eat, it never hurts to take a chance.

      Kum Gang San, on Northern, just west of the Union Street intersection, is a real scene. Although it is starting to resemble the closest thing to Disneyland- complete with entertainers and waterfalls- that the borough can cough up, my mouth still waters at the the thought of a bowl of Ox Tail Soup I had there some time ago.

      Sam Won Gak, on Broadway in Elmhurst, is a nice old diner with red vinyl booths that serves up a good bowl of ja jong myun (sp?), noodles with a slick brown sauce filled with onions and other good stuff.

      My favorite place of late, Mani Mani (163-24 Northern) is hardly typical. A heaping plate of fried chicken is their specialty, either plain or covered in a smokey barbecue sauce. Although they have tons of stuff on their menu, including sushi, I've never seen anyone order anything other than the chicken. That's the ticket. It goes down well with the free side salad, sweet radishes and an overpriced (15 buck) pitcher of beer. My wife, who is Korean, says Mani Mani reminds her of her college days in Seoul.

      There is also a place on Farrington Street (Flushing), a block or so north of Northern, corner of 37th , no sign outside, a cab driver's kind of place, I think the actual name is Farrington Restaurant. Anyhow, they serve a bowl of Yuk Gae Jan hot enough to clear your sinuses. It transports you to a good place.

      Anyhow, enjoy your search.

      1. Kum Gang San is the bomb! (get it?!) If you start there, you will never go anyplace else. The waterfalls make it the perfect place for a seduction. And it's open 24 hrs., making it the perfect place for an illicit rendezvous. This all goes to the atmosphere.

        The food is simply the best. I would say it's better than all the rest. They have a spice cabbage dish, with just a hint of tartness. Tartness is uncommon in Korean food. Also, you will receive, without asking for it, a number of tiny dishes with different green, jelly-like substances on them. At first, I could not tell the condiments from the appetizers, but the truth is that there is no difference. When you see the gaudy decor and the bracelets on the winking businessmen, when you hear the awful screech of the singer in the black dress, the waiters bouncing slightly to the rhythm, you will realize that anything goes in this place. The green dishes will all be delicious.

        Then, they give you some meat and you cook it right there at your table. If you are not prepared for this level of interactivity or, if you are like one of my table mates and feel that you should not have to cook your own food when you go out to eat (point taken) maybe you should go to the fried chicken place down the block. There is way too much liability involved in allowing customers to operate a 500 degree deep frier, drunk on rice wine at 3:45 a.m.

        It is very bright in there! When you get the barbecue food, the sauce will glisten in the light, but this version of barbecue is not your Texas smokehouse. Instead there is a subtlety and a tartness that makes adjectives like subtle and tart look like impudent and bitter.

        The only things are: (1) Many of the dishes at this place were cold. I am not sure that this was supposed to be the case. (2) There are fishtanks in the place and, since fish eat fishfood, it sometimes smells like fishfood. You should ask to be seated away from the tanks. If you can get a spot outside by the waterfall, this is recommended. It flows into a pond where giant goldfish tread imperial water. If you don't like one of the tiny green dishes, you can discard them into the pond and win the love of these fish. wink wink.

        1. Well put, Joseph. You capture the electricity and atmosphere of the place. Although I've never been there during the wee hours, I can easily see it becoming more surreal and romantic with each passing hour. Perhaps the "tart cabbage dish" you are referring to is kimchi? if so, this is served everywhere. Also, the free sidedishes at the beginning are served everywhere as well. And, yes, they are all mostly cold. The best thing is that they vary from restaurant to restaurant, and even from visit to visit.

          In some places, like Bi Won, a Kalbi place off the corner of Springfield and 64th Avenue in Bayside, the sidedishes are what keep me coming back. The Kimchi Jigae, though acidic, is not bad either. Just a twinge of sweetness to it.

          1. I always liked Woo Chon on Kissena Blvd. just across from the Flushing branch of the Queens Borough Public Library, though I haven't been to their Flushing branch in probably about a year and a half.