Korean BBQ in Manhattan - Need Opinions
This month's 'Food Crave' selection among my friends is Korean BBQ. The only rule is that it has to be in Manhattan - some of my Manhattan friends are disturbingly adverse to leaving the borough so Flushing is out. I have 10 finalists, although if there is an overwhelming write-in choice you can pick that as well. I need to narrow it to down 3. Help!
In alphabetical order:
1. Don's Bogam BBQ
2. Kang Suh
3. Kum Gang San
4. Kun Jip
6. Miss Korea
7. Muk Eun Ji
8. New Wonjo Restaurant
9. Seoul Garden
I agree with foodwhisperer.
I am a Korean and when I crave Korean BBQ (especially bone-in Kalbi), I go to the second floor of 32 W 32nd St. called "NY Kom Tang Soot Bul Kalbi". They have better seasoning (and yes, a little but not strong MSG taste as well, lol) and offer real charcoal.
I personally do not like Shilla, which I think is crappy. But then, most Korean restaurants in Manhattan are plain average at best, unfortunately.
Thanks Kosmose for the name of the place. It's a "catchy" name. I haven't eaten much Korean BBQ lately, mostly eating stews and whole fish. I love Korean food, I had a good meal in Ft Lee but I forgot the name, also went to a good place in Queens with a Korean friend of mine, and had charcoal bbq, but she had to ask for that, as some of the tables had gas.
Definitely not Kunjip or Seoul Garden for BBQ. My 3 would be Wonjo (charcoal grills), Don's Bogam (good but don't like the untraditional watery ssamjjang), Madangsui (good variety of quality meat). With that said, I think the BBQ is pretty solid at Kang Suh and Kum Gang San too.
Nowadays we eat Korean pretty often (and cook the basic dishes at home). We generally most prefer Madansui all around. We often find, as noted, that getting one spot to do everything well is difficult.
Won Jo located at 23 W 32 is my go to place. They use real charcoal to bbq their meats at your table-sometimes nerve wracking to see them transport coals from tables. The 2nd floor is where the bbq action goes on. I really like all the side dishes they provide as well. I think I speak with authority on this subject as I am Korean American brought up in household of commercially produced Korean foods. Best to call for reservations esp evening hours. Get quite crowded but they are pretty on time when you have a reservation.
Places you mentioned in ktown:
- Don Bogam: Generally they are decent, not amazing, but decent. One of the better places in ktown. I think their wine marinated sam gyup sal is the best BBQ item on the menu.
- Madangsui: When they originally opened I thought they were doing the best job in ktown, but the last few times i went there i thought it was pretty whatever
- Seoul Garden: awful, don't go for BBQ. They are a soon doo boo specialist anyhow (although their soon doo boo is just ok)
- Miss Korea: I have not eaten here, but I've got some friends who like it
- New Wonjo: I used to think it was pretty bad, but they changed mgmt and I have some friends who said the food is much improved since then. Although i have not eaten here since the mgmt change
- Others you mentioned: pretty mediocre
Stuff you didn't mention:
- Gaonnuri: This is strictly for kalbi. They have by far the best quality kalbi meat in ktown. It is more expensive, but the restaurant itself is lightyears nicer than any other restaurant in ktown and has an amazing view (call ahead and reserve a table by the window...well worth it)- NY Komtang: as kosmose7 mentioned, this place is generally fairly decent although I haven't been in a while and they do use charcoal
- Hanjoo: this is the St Marks branch of a flushing restaurant that I like. They specialize in sam gyup sal and do it much better than any of the ktown restaurants. I would def try here for sam gyup sal
- Takashi: while technically not korean, it is japanese yakiniku which is the japanese version of Korean BBQ. While it is much more expensive (a bit overpriced), it is way way better than any of the korean bbq places
re: squid kun
I tried Miss Korea last night. While it's a stylish, attractive spot, the things we tried were nothing special. Someone told a Korean friend of mine that the Gopchang Jeongol (Beef Intestine & Tripe Soup) was better there than at a place we had had it in NJ called Chung Dam Dong - 청담동, but not only was that not the case, Miss Korea's version seriously lacked depth, with a thin, tasteless soup, and the rice cakes and noodles were overcooked. The BBQ was fine. I did enjoy their bok choy kimchi banchan - crisp texture and slightly spicy flavor.
We were seated on the 3rd Floor and we noticed on the way out that all the foreign/white-only groups were seated in a front area that was separated from the rest of restaurant. I guess I escaped this fate by being with a Korean man and Taiwanese woman.
Afterward we went across the street to Grace Street, an attractive, spacious coffee shop/cafe with a fairly serious coffee menu, although execution needs work. They are justifiably famous for their take on hotteok, although I still prefer the more traditional ones at Pajunia in Jackson Heights (and they're way cheaper).