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Koreatown Restaurant with Atmosphere & Hospitality

Hi All,

I have been to very few restaurants in Koreatown and am looking for a restaurant with a little bit of atmosphere and hospitality. Effectively, I'm looking for a restaurant that we can call "home" in Koreatown (be it 32nd or 35th Street) and start frequenting on a regular basis.

I am NOT looking for a "get-in, rush out" restaurant or a restaurant that is overly boisterous.

Here are my concerns and issues with the few places I have been:
* Baden Baden - I find to be a bit too noisy and almost a party restaurant
* Kunjip - I find too casual due to the line and the fact that we were asked to order while we were in line
* Don's Bogam - I am not crazy about the atmosphere, and I think it is a little too festive

I wouldn't mind a restaurant that would allow us to order appetizers, have a glass or two of wine, and then order entrees. Maybe even some place where we get to know the owners? This might not exist in moderately priced Korean restaurants, but living in the Murray Hill area, I am very used to this with other ethnic restaurants - i.e. Indian in Curry Hill.

Again, my concern is good to great food (doesn't have to be THE BEST) and emphasis on atmosphere and friendly service.

Could you kindly advise?

Many thanks!!!

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Kunjip
9 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

Don's Bogam
17 E 32nd St, New York, NY 10016

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  1. my go-to spot remains Shilla for non-barbecue dishes. i particularly like their Kimchi Tofu Pork (dubo kimchi bogum). the banchan is usually pretty decent, too. the atmosphere is possibly better than other places, especially in back on the first floor or on the second floor. they're not known for any one dish, so they don't get flocks of crowds waiting for tables. i think you'd be able to sit comfortably for some time without feeling rushed.

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

    9 Replies
    1. re: coasts

      Thank you! Walked by Shilla tonight and thought it had potential, so I am glad to hear a positive review. Will definitely give it a try. Much appreciated!

      1. re: coleyas

        Yeah, I'd agree that Shilla has better atmosphere than most other K-town restaurants. Food is at least decent across the board. I'd give it a shot.

        1. re: uwsister

          better, which is to say still atrocious.

          1. re: coasts

            Well, not every K-town restaurant can have a mini grand piano and a waterfall, right?

            1. re: uwsister

              Kum Gang San - ugh! not even a waterfall can save them. they need to close down for a week and scrub that place clean.

              of every place on 32nd, I like Gahmi Oak's interior best. it's simple, traditional and specific to their restaurant. i looked in on Miss Korea the other night, having only eaten there when they first opened. looked fun, although not necessarily "nice".

              BCD has good food in a nice space, but it's loud and fast paced service, probably not best for OP.

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              Gahm Mi Oak
              43 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

              Miss Korea
              10 W 32nd 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: coasts

                I was being sarcastic. I can't stand Kum Gang San in more ways than one.

                BCD and Gahm Mi Oak are two of my favorite restaurants on 32nd St. but yeah, neither are what the OP are looking for specifically.

                1. re: uwsister

                  i figured. Kum Gang San doesn't have many fans.

                2. re: coasts

                  Would not recommend BCD based on the OP's criteria. It is the only restaurant I've been to where, after I came back from the bathroom and returned to my table, found two strangers sitting there and my jacket gone. The patrons next to my table told me that the waitress took my jacket...mind you, I hadn't even paid yet, and when I found the waitress and asked for my check, there was A LOT of confusion among the staff.

                  Not sure what they thought: that I left my jacket and bailed on the check? I mean, trying to pay for my meal was so difficult that it would've been much easier to just get my jacket and leave!

        2. re: coasts

          Just went to Shilla for first time this weekend. It was ok until I saw waiter clean table w customer's drinking water that was left behind. I read him the riot act about cleanliness and he apologized. Makes me wonder about ever going back to a place that doesn't train thier staff properly!!!!

        3. I don't think you're going to find what you've described in the area you want. None of the places I've been to on the 32/33 street area have much in the way of atmosphere or service. Korean food doesn't follow the western standard of apps followed by mains. Most of the time I've ordered in Korean restauarants all over the US, food comes out when the kitchen has made it regardless of its description on the menu as an app or entree. And it usually a frenzy of dishes hitting your table. The places that follow the more western model are not what would be described as authentic. The old late Woo Lae Oak in Soho would have worked. I haven't been to Dok Suni in the EV in years, but they follow the apps/main model.

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          Dok Suni
          119 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bkeats

            Good point. Ordering apps, having wine, then ordering entrees is definitely a foreign concept.

            I think OP is looking for something a little more "homey" than what Woo Lae Oak used to be - getting to know the owners and whatnot - but if something like Woo Lae Oak works for OP, the same people who used to own Woo Lae Oak still operate Bann on 50th St. You could definitely get some apps with wine there. I've never been to Bann, but I actually thought Woo Lae Oak had pretty good food, regardless of how "authentic" it was.

            And if we're getting out of K-Town anyway, Danji would work even better.

          2. New York Kam Tang Soot Bull House is still the only Korean BBQ place using real charcoal.

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            New York Kom Tang Soot Bul Kal Bi
            32 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

            1. Yes I've vowed never to go to Kunjip again after I realized it's basically a fast food joint -- you spend more time waiting in line than actually sitting and enjoying your meal.

              Have you ever tried the ones on 35th?

              Hanbat is usually not crowded (disclaimer: I haven't been there in a very long time, but I recall it was perfectly fine) and while Cho Dang Gol is a bit of a speciality restaurant (tofus, soybean stews) I think it can be quite relaxed/pleasant there in non-peak times.

              The last suggestion would be Hangawi, which is actually an appetizer, drinks etc sort of place. Vegetarian and not traditional, but nice atmosphere

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              Kunjip
              9 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

              Cho Dang Gol
              55 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001

              Han Bat
              53 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001

              HanGawi
              12 E 32nd St, New York, NY 10016

              1 Reply
              1. re: asiansupper

                I think Hangawi is great. It's been rated best vegetarian as well as best Korean. I've had dinner there a number of times and can definitely recommend it, particularly for service and atmosphere.

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                HanGawi
                12 E 32nd St, New York, NY 10016