I went to Han Bat for dinner tonight. The bibimbap and mandoo are reliable, the room is pleasant, and important to me, the service is exceedingly pleasant. The restaurant was close to full but we weren't rushed and as the place started to empty out, my friend and I were not discouraged from hanging around, nursing a beer and talking.
Han Bat ($$)
53 W 35th St, New York 10001
Btwn 5th & 6th Ave
Is has very good value.
There is a place next door that is darker inside the restaurant. The prices are similar, but I still find Hanbat the best value. Both these paces on 35th Street.
Has some good food too and is sometimes more crowded. Don't miss the specials on the black board.
If you're a total beginner I would try Kum Gang San or Shilla maybe (although they're a bit on the pricey side). I find specific dishes good in K-town too like Cho Dang Gol's seafood soft tofu stew (which is quite cheap and filling) or Gan Mee Ok's sullongtang (soothing oxtail broth). I haven't been to Kunjip, but I found HanBat and Dae Dong mediocre. Or if you want it somewhat watered down but still tasty maybe Dok Suni or Dosirak in the East Village is an okay bet. I also like the Mill near Columbia University.
I'm a little rusty on the K-town jaunt but Kum Gan San is a reliable, 24-hour place that's reasonably priced. It's on the corner of 34th & broadway and has been there forever.
You can find better places and the meals are not always great but it's a consistent player. It's the best place to eat after 3pm, much better than any diner that you will go to. Also, good for groups.
I second the Han Bat (on 35th) recommendation. My wife, who is Korean, took me to Han Bat about 7 years ago, and officially indoctrinated me into the world of Korean cuisine by way of the Soon Doo Bul Bibimbab,which is ground beef,rice, veggies and a fried egg, served in a hot sizzling stone bowl. Part of the joy of eating this is that the rice browns and hardens as the bowl sizzles, making for a great crunchy texture. A red spicey sauce can be mixed in liberally, or according to your tolerance for heat. I like to think of Bibimbab as the "Korean Hamburger", not in the literal sense, but in the sense that I have yet to meet an American who hasn't liked it. Perhaps, due to the comforting, familiar ingredients, people who have yet to try Korean food are not scared off by it. And, to this point, Han Bat serves up as good a bowl of Bibimbab as I've had in NYC.
If, after your K-town trip, you feel like returning, you might want to check out the cheap and delicious selection of pancakes and other goodies at the 32nd Street Han-A-Reum supermarket. If you're in the mood to step off the beaten path, check out Baden Baden (also 32nd) for a heaping plate of Korean-style fried chicken.
Have fun, Lemongrassy.
Go to Han Bat and get bibimbap. I did for dinner tonight, and it cost $11 plus tip for the bibimbap (I got Gobdol Bibimbap) plus 6 banchan (side dishes), some milky white beef soup, and an orange, all of which come without extra charge along with your order. If you're new there, especially if you don't come during peak hours, the waitstaff may be apt to show you how to mix your bibimbap and will also probably be able to tell you what the banchan are if you ask. Anyway, the place is definitely a good value and has a sort of diner-like atmosphere.
If you want to try korean food at a reasonable price, go at lunch time. It's considerably cheaper then. ANy time you go there is a tremendous amount of food, because first they serve you ban chan, which consists of anywhere from 4-12 small dishes with kimchees, dried fish, different salads, just tastes of many different things. There is no extra charge for this. Kunjip is very good, but I find it to be too hectic and crowded to be enjoyable sometimes. I tend to go to Dae Dong, which is good and very pleasant. However, if you want to do the bbq thing, go to a place that specializes in that. BBQ is always a bit pricey for the amount of food you get. THe stewey things (casseroles, or jigaes) are delicious and spicy, well, there are a ton of choices. Enjoy and let us know where you went and what you had!