Category Archives: K-Town

Seoul Garden: great for raw crab and naengmyun (cold noodles)

Seoul GardenSeoul Garden
34 W 32nd St (between Broadway and 5th Ave)
New York, NY 10001

I have to admit, I had been to Seoul Garden a number of times before, each time because I was too impatient/hungry/hangry to wait in line at another place. Seoul Garden was always THAT restaurant for me: good enough to eat at but not great enough to ever be a real choice. It always struck me as a restaurant of mediocrity, one that didn’t have more ambitious goals than providing solid, comfort Korean food (nothing wrong with that). So you can imagine my surprise when I got invited to dine with them recently… are they rebranding? New chef? New management? Someone is clearly trying! I grabbed LAW and we headed over to Ktown to check it out.

Turns out, I had been ordering incorrectly this whole time. I asked to have all the best items on the menu and was served dishes I had never ordered at Seoul Garden before. There were a few things that I had that night that were incredible and absolutely worth going back for.

First: the banchan. Banchan are small dishes that all Korean restaurants serve (complimentary!) as appetizers. It’s like getting bread before your meal except you’re getting all kinds of things like different kinds of kimchi, other veggies, squid, steamed egg, etc. Seoul Garden provided the usual with one particular amazing dish…

Seoul GardenLittle fish with fried sweet potato chips. The salty, chewy fish paired with the sweet, crisp sweet potato made for a mouthwatering combo. This was truly a great banchan that got my appetite going. I had never seen this before either. Plus points for creativity. The rest of the banchan below were more of the usual suspects:  Continue reading Seoul Garden: great for raw crab and naengmyun (cold noodles)

MEW Izakaya: my new favorite late night dining spot

MEW Izakaya
MEW Izakaya
53 West 35th Street (between 5th and 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10016

SOOO EXCITED! Rarely do I go to a new restaurant and know immediately that I’ll be a regular from that moment on. MEW Izakaya is now my favorite late night dining spot. LAW and I tend to eat really late (my terrible work schedule doesn’t help) so I’m so so so happy to have found MEW.

MEW Izakaya
Izakayas are Japanese late night drinking spots that also serve food. MEW is an amazing izakaya tucked underground in K-Town (you literally walk downstairs). Most of the crowd fits under the “hip asian” category (think shaved heads with pony tails, denim on denim, and beanies that sit straight up on your head). The menu is an awesome mash up of Japanese foods with Western flair. I literally am going to go back again and again until I’ve tried everything. Continue reading MEW Izakaya: my new favorite late night dining spot

Madangsui for some mouth watering marbled galbi (short rib)

Mandangsui Madangsui
35 West 35th Street (between 5th and 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10001

I was recently invited to Madangsui for their Korean barbecue. I was pretty excited to try a new restaurant in ktown because I find that I’m always at the same places when I go (Kun Jip, Don’s Bogam, BCD Tofu House…). Madangsui is a couple streets up from the main 32nd street strip and nestled between a number of non-korean bars, which I thought was a red flag. But once you walk in, you’re transported back into that same Korean world. The place is actually pretty huge (note: good for parties) and was packed with koreans. Like all korean places, we were served an array of ban chan (small appetizers pictured below that are always refillable and FREE!).

Mandangsui The array of ban chan was not huge, but included a nice variety of things. Spicy, not spicy, crunchy, soft, etc. They were nice pairings with the barbecue to come.

Continue reading Madangsui for some mouth watering marbled galbi (short rib)

Mad for Chicken is healthier – but do you want healthier when you’re looking for fried wings?

Mad for Chicken
314 5th Ave
2nd Fl
(between 31st St & 32nd St)
New York, NY 10001

Checked out Mad for Chicken with M.B. and Y.N. this week. I was told by a number of people that Mad for Chicken is better than BonChon. BonChon is my favorite wing but loyalty to food is not a trait I find in myself. It’s a meritocracy here. The best wins in my book. We started with a corn on cob with parmesan and lime. Corn was naturally sweet, which tasted great with the saltiness from the cheese. Though, Mad for Chicken isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel here.


We then just ordered the Mad Combo of 5 drums and 10 wings ($21.95). We did half soy garlic and half spicy. Very similar to BonChon’s offerings. Continue reading Mad for Chicken is healthier – but do you want healthier when you’re looking for fried wings?

My Kind of Chicken Noodle Soup – Arirang

Arirang
32 W 32nd St, 3rd Fl
(between 5th Ave & Broadway)
New York, NY 10001

 

Meeeeehh I sound like a man right now because my throat is achinggggg.  I always tend to get a little sick when the weather changes.  It’s not so bad when it’s changing from warm to cold because then I have a good excuse to stay in a warm bed.  Now it’s the opposite; the weather is getting warmer, kids are all out to play, and my throat demands that I eat only mush.  Blegh.  Luckily, Arirang exists and they make amazing sujebe, a traditional Korean soup noodle dish.  The soup is usually made with anchovies, shellfish, and kelp, though Arirang is known for their Chicken Sujebi.  I swear after you have this, you can never return to having other chicken noodle soups.  And while you’re sick and can make a few demands, why not ask for Arirang?

  

Like most Korean restaurants, you’re served barley tea and a variety of ban chan, small side dishes that are always free with your meal (you can always ask for more too!).  Some places are known particularly for their yummy ban chan, such as Kun Jip, where you are served at least 6-8 kinds of dishes before your meal even begins.  Arirang does not provide as much variety as you are served just two kinds of kimchi: cabbage and radish.  The radish is my favorite.  It is not too sour and has a nice crunch, complimenting the warm bowl of noodle soup.

Their haemul pajeon (seafood pancake) is on the greasy side but is pretty good.  Unlike Chinese scallion pancakes, where the batter only consists of flour and water, pajeon (“pa” = scallion) is made with eggs, wheat flour, and rice flour.  The rice flour gives the pancake a chewier and more dense texture.  I can’t tell you which I prefer… they’re different.

I actually ordered the karjebi instead of the sujebi so that it included half handmade long noodles and half dough flakes.  I liked having two kinds of noodles in my soup, one long and chewy, the other flat, short, and thicker.  The flat ones are torn by hand to resemble “dough flakes” (wide, flat, short noodles).  Above is a photo of what the dough flakes look like.  The soup that they have at Arirang is amazing.  It’s made with chicken, onion, potato, and long slivers of scallions.  The starch from the potato makes the soup a little thicker, and the chicken of course adds tremendous fragrance.  The only problem is that the longer the noodles and potato sit in the bowl uneaten, the thicker the soup becomes.  You have to slurp up all your goods quickly to enjoy it in its best state (ahem… C.W.)!

 

If you didn’t get anything else from this review, just know that the noodles are chewy (very QQ, J.H.) and the soup is the most tasty chicken soup ever.  And it all only costs $10 per bowl.  Particularly yummy on a rainy or sick day.  Though the last time I went was on a sunny and very healthy day… still delicious.

 

BCD Tofu House: Rice!

BCD Tofu House
17 W 32nd St
(between 5th Ave & Broadway)
New York, NY 10001

I love Korean rice. It is sticky, extremely fragrant, and has a beautiful shine to it. Unlike Thai rice, which is also very yummy, Korean rice grains are individually small, bulbous and slightly gelatinous. Thai rice is long and thin, usually very good for making fried rice because they do not tend to stick to each other. It is fragrant in a different way…

To make perfect Korean rice, you first have to choose the right kind of grain. It has to be small and round and be absent of any black parts. The rice should also be more recently milled as it begins to lose moisture after awhile. Another way to increase moisture is to soak the rice for about 30 minutes in the summer and 1-2 hours in the winter before you are about to steam it. If you soak it for too long, the grains can become brittle and lose some nutrition. Soaking the rice perfectly can help to make the rice sticky and resilient.

Obviously, don’t just come to BCD for their rice.  They have AMAZING Sundubu Jigae (tofu stew) and offer a large variety of banchan (appetizers – always free at Korean restaurants!).