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Koreantown best banchan?

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Selections seem to be declining, just wondering if anyone can point me to a better spot.

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  1. I haven't been in about six months, but I thought that Kum Gang San had one of the better banchan in terms of variety and taste. I don't like their probiotic kimchi though. Their old kimchi, while not authentic as it was slick with sesame oil, was pretty tasty. I've also enjoyed the banchan at Madangsui and BCD Tofu (mainly for the whole deep-fried fish each person gets).

    2 Replies
    1. re: Miss Needle

      Adding links

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      Madangsui
      35 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001

      Kum Gang San
      49 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

      BCD Tofu House
      17 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

      1. re: Miss Needle

        agree with Miss Needle although its been a long time since ive been to kum gang san. Chung Moo Roo also has decent panchan.

        the best banchan is gam me oak although you only get kimchi and gak duggi (sp?) b/c its the only ktown place that actually has a good version

    2. I would have said Madangsui 6 months ago, but Wonjo has pleasantly surprised me the last few times i've been. BCD is pretty solid with complimentary deep fried fishie as well.

      6 Replies
      1. re: ExFlexitarian

        Adding link

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        Wonjo
        23 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

        1. re: Miss Needle

          I haven't been to Wonjo but would definitely say that Madangsui's banchan is the best I've had in Koreatown by a considerable margin. Kum Gang San's has been the least impressive, by the way.

          1. re: Pan

            Interesting you say that. In the Korean community, Kum Gang San is actually known for their banchan. Their banchan in the Manhattan location was definitely better when they first opened. I remember they always used to serve a grilled fish to everybody. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to happen anymore.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              Well, I feel like the taste of the kimchi is a really important part of the banchan. I didn't like their kimchi the last time I was there. I don't really remember what else was in the banchan. Then again, that was Christmas 2007. Have you been there more recently?

              1. re: Pan

                I've been there more recently than you have but haven't liked their kimchi at all for the past few years when they switched. It's way too sour and not very flavorful. Koreans probably eat up the kimchi because you'll have the placemat advertise their healthy probiotic kimchi. If you haven't noticed, Koreans tend to love anything that has "health" properties. May taste like crap, but if you say it's good for them, they'll eat it.

                In addition to the kimchi, Kum Gang San has a good variety of all the namuls. There's also usually some fried fish cake dish and a potato dish and the ubiquitous mayonaise-laden salad (which I don't like). I think I usually get about 10 different banchan when I'm there.

                If you like kimchi, you should try Gahm Mi Oak (if you haven't been there already). The best kimchi I've ever had at a restaurant. Spicing is perfect. Level of fermentation is perfect. They give you two types -- cabbage and radish. I just wish they would bottle it and sell it. I'm not a huge kimchi person but I'd eat that stuff every day. The bad thing about Gahm Mi Oak when it comes to banchan is that's basically all there is.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  Yeah, I love the radish kimchi at Gam Mee Ok. I hate the mayonnaise-laden stuff and steer clear of it whenever it's offered.

                  The kimchi at Kum Gang San wasn't only sour but also just really foul-tasting in an odd way, and I love traditional-tasting kimchi. I've liked it ever since the first time I had it, at the age of 10, in a real proletarian dump with good food in Seoul.

      2. I've only been twice, but I remember Shilla being not bad for banchan.

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        Shilla
        37 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

        1. Kum Gang San has always been my favorite spot for banchan. Selection varies and the recent past 2 times I went, there was none of that mayo salad but good quality veggies with one fish item. I was glad not to see the common pickled carrots amongst them. BCD Tofu gave us 2 fried fish for the 3 of us to share (delicious), alongside pickled carrots and kimchi which I did not enjoy. I love my vegetable sides so I don't think I would returning back here. I've tried Madangsui but I still prefer the variety at KGS.

          1. while the menu choices have taken a downturn over the last couple years and prices have skyrocketed, we still love the panchan at CHO DANG GOL. seems about the same as ever. the kimchi is good. not the best, most flavorful or spiciest, but i like it fine.