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THE BEST: Manhattan Korean


DonWalsh x
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Ignoring part of your question: Woo Lae Oak in Soho (Wooster? Green?) is a much more stylish and posh version of Korean BBQ which i found wonderfully fresh and satisfying, with great variety.  Also excellent is the Kimchee Pork Stew.  This is not, however, the most traditional of places, and they're not open at 4 a.m.  

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  • 5 months later...

i'm surprised there isn't more action on this thread.  with the millions of korean places down there, it would be nice to know some standouts.

i happened upon a place on 32nd street a few nights ago.  it was called Cum Kang San at 49w 32nd..  it was a bright bi-level place connected to a hotel, just east of B'way.

the BBQ was very good, although i thought it was pricey at about 18 or 19 bucks for each meat BBQ dish.  kimchee was plentiful and delicious.  service attentive.  

there was a jazz duet which was a nice touch.  

does anyone have any sure-fired bets down in this area??  or any other area for that matter?

(Edited by tommy at 1:49 pm on Jan. 15, 2002)

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Far from considering myself an expert on this subject, but seeing and eating some of the best (choicest - as you and only you have the influence of tastiness!) Korean BBQs. Wilst working for the DoD, and traveling to many US military bases, finding KBBQs was easy. This seems to be an "institution" in Officers' Clubs, especially in the far east.

The way I got to know them is as follows.

Buffet tables are set with bowles and platters of raw meats, all slivered "carpaccio" style. Such as beef, pork, chicken or turkey (actually the gamut can be quite large), raw vegetables, especially far eastern ones, to include water chestnuts and bamboo shoots and grated ginger root. Cabbages, onions, leeks, carrots, mushrooms and even fruit such as pineapple and coconut and you name it.  All this is followed by seasoned waters and oils. The eater will select all and or any choices in quantities he or she likes, placing all this into a bowl and adding the flavors and seasonings.

This concoction is given to the chef, who in turn cooks it on a special grill. The authentic ones are round, a bit cone shaped towards the center, with grooves running from the center to the outer sides. They are usually gas fired, as high heat is necessary to cook all ingredients quickly. The finished product should never be mushy, nor overly crisp. Again, you are the selector of all ingredients plus seasonings, so there is no such thing as the best tasting in such and such place, but of course available quality and variety of raw products play the major fiddle here

Peter
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  • 1 year later...

All you fine folks have the opportunity to help me choose a place to celebrate my birthday next Sunday.

My mother's Koreanist friend's favorite place is Kang Suh, but she has never been to Woo Chon. I like Kang Suh and have been there several times, but I had a delicious meal at Woo Chon in Flushing, so I was thinking of going to their Manhattan branch, at 10 W. 36 St.

So what do you all think? Which Korean restaurant in Manhattan do you like best?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I thought the Flushing Woo Chon was better than any Korean I've had in Manhattan (haven't been tp their branch here though). Of the Manhattan Ktown restaurants, I've enjoyed Kun Jip (sp?) on 32nd street and Han Bat.

M
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I've been to Woo Chon in Manhattan numerous times and I like their BBQ Kalbi best. They also do ok spicy baby back ribs. I'm going there tonight and will try and report if I have anything memorable. I think Han Bat's Bulgogi is tops though.

I've had their sushi/sashimi offerings and they have been hit and miss, due to the rotation of sushi chefs. They had one guy there who was really good now gone :sad: and he would do all kinds of little special plates. Live Lobster Sushi was one of em.

I'm not sure the one in Flushing is the same owner?

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I like Kang Suh the best because they use live coals. I also find the service there to be superior to the others. Food-quality wise, the major restaurants on that block all seem to be in a similar category and my visits over the years haven't indicated a predictable favorite. So if you plan to order barbecue I say go with the live coals and nice service as the tiebreakers.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Thanks for your responses, everybody!

LESider:

I really look forward to your meal report on the Manhattan branch of Woo Chon. By the way, I'm convinced that the Manhattan and Flushing branches of Woo Chon must have the same owner, because a review of the Manhattan location is up in the Flushing restaurant.

Has anyone been to both branches of Woo Chon, so that they could compare them? Also, does anyone have recommendations of other (even better??) Korean places in Flushing, especially at locations close to the area between the library, the LIRR station, and the Main St. subway station? I won't be going to Flushing for my birthday, but I'll be there soon enough because I'm teaching two courses at Queensborough this semester.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Also, does anyone have recommendations of other (even better??) Korean places in Flushing, especially at locations close to the area between the library, the LIRR station, and the Main St. subway station?

Pan,

We really like Jang Tuh in Flushing. It's off Main Street on 37th Ave.

They cook the BBQ with real charcoal. It's not rushed like Kang Suh in Koreatown. The servers actually come over and turn the meat for you.

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I think a little diner self-defense is necessary at any crowded restaurant if you don't want to be put on the management-mandated pace. The best move is to dole out your order in three or so phases. Order a few apps. Then order a few barbecue items. Then order other stuff.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Two places we like and return to are:

Cho Dang Gol, on W. 35th. They specialize in dubu (=tofu), and have some really wonderful comforting homestyle food. Especially good in this weather. And the staff is very nice, especially to us Westerners who are willing to try the "unusual."

Kori, on Church Street between Franklin and Leonard (Tribeca). A somewhat hip place, with delicious food and interesting cocktails based on plain and flavored soju. Also, nice staff.

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So I went with 8 people and we ate upstairs at WooChon on Friday night. I have to preface this report by saying there was more drinking than eating. We had some Mushroom Mandoo and Pork Mandoo (dumplings) to start as well as Cod marinated with Miso. The Madoo are pretty good and I like the pork best. The Cod was ok. We then had something like five tea kettles full of sake and some of that Korean "sake", which I belive translates into "dirty rice wine" . The name of it escapes me. It has a much thicker consistency than sake. But I love the taste and would recommend trying it sometime.

Then a huge boat full of Sashimi arrived on the table. Now I've had some great sashimi here and some less than great.Friday night the fish was excellent. the boat had Toro,Hamachi,Fluke,Tuna,Salmon, Uni,White? Tuna and a few other pieces. Very fresh. The sushi chef then sent up some speacial plates of sweet shrimp covered with a chili sauce. I didn't like it. Followed by some seared scallops w/black pepper.

We also had plenty of banchan in between all this and a couple of orders of bulgogi, which at that point was excellent.

Overall, I like the place and would recommend it, especially the bbq.

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Thanks for your report, LESider. I may be wrong, but I would tend not to order what I think of as specifically Japanese things, like sashimi, at Korean restauarants. But I'm not a big raw fish guy, anyway, and I can't speak for the rest of a party of what may be about 20.

At this point, it seems like I may stick with the safe choice of Kang Suh, a place I know and always like but don't consistently love, though I wanted to try another place. But some of this may be decided by which place I can get reservations at. I hope to know by tomorrow exactly how many people I need to make reservations for.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Pan, I understand. I actually would not necessarily order japanese food at a Korean restaraunt either. ( My friend did the ordering and I left it at that) . But I would recommend the grilled meats and mandoo at Woo Chon.

It reminds me of something that happened recently. I went to Cafe Charbon in the Lower East Side for a late night drink and some dinner. My two friends ordered pasta. Cafe Charbon serves French Bistro food. I asked how his pasta was and he said it wasn't great. I was thinking: "that's because you ordered Italian food in a French Restaraunt"

I do like Cafe Charbon though. decent food( stick with french cuisine :wink: ) with some interesting live music. They had a Cuban band (ala Buena Vista Social Club) that was really good. nice atmosphere on weeknights, very chill. Its at the corner of Stanton and Orchard.

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Thanks for the recommendation, LESider. It would be great to find a dependable bistro in my hood.

But my judgment is that this thread has been inconclusive in terms of what place in Manhattan might be better than Kang Suh, so what I think I'll do is get the complete list of people I need to get reservations, try Kang Suh first, and if they don't have room at the time I want, call Woo Chon. But as for the rest of the restaurants people have recommended in this thread, I plan to try all of them eventually.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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  • 3 months later...

Pan reported on his meal at Kang Suh here. I'll add that my opinion of Kang Suh increases with each visit, and after three March-April visits as part of a late-winter 2003 Korean binge I'm now committed to the position that it's the best general-menu Korean restaurant in Manhattan.

The menus at these places are so large it's feels like it might be a life's work to eat through them in such a way as to be able to comment on each category. But I'm almost there, thanks to the voraciousness of my recent eating companions. So far Kang Suh has made a strong across-the-board showing. In particular, I've recently become a yook hwe addict. In fact I think I'll start a thread about it: Steak Tartare World Cup.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'll add that my opinion of Kang Suh increases with each visit, and after three March-April visits as part of a late-winter 2003 Korean binge I'm now committed to the position that it's the best general-menu Korean restaurant in Manhattan.

have you eaten at woo chon yet?? i've hit a couple of korean restaurants on 32nd street, and, so far, woo chon's bbq and the multitude of great side dishes they offer, have been the best.. the night i was there, they offered four or five different kim chi's plus close to a dozen other side dishes and condiments along with the meats.. their triple fat pork, which i haven't seen in most other places, and which is basically bacon, is great.. i've never been rushed or pushed to leave..

the only issue i have with it, as well as most other korean restaurants, is that they don't offer a fish to be bbq'd at the table.. i'm assuming that this is because it's not a traditional thing to do?? can anyone confirm this?? in fact, the only place i've been to offering a fish to be bbq'd at the table is woo lae oak, hardly the picture of authenticity..

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I've been to Woo Chon several times, and I think it's quite good. The two major things I think are better about Kang Suh are 1) the service (I think it has the friendliest waitstaff on the block), and 2) the use of live hardwood coals instead of gas on the tabletop grills. I don't think the food cooks long enough to pick up much in the way of smoke flavor, but the intense dry searing heat of the coals doesn't seem to be reproducible by the gas technology that the other places use. Woo Chon does offer a slightly larger pan chan assortment than Kang Suh, but one of Kang Suh's frequent offerings is the hot egg custard, which is worth several lesser offerings in my opinion.

By fish I assume you mean fin-fish? You can get shrimp at most of these places, as I recall.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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By fish I assume you mean fin-fish? You can get shrimp at most of these places, as I recall.

you've got it.. my girlfriend doesn't eat shrimp, nor on most occasions, will she eat meat.. thus she's fallen in love with the tuna loin, scallops, etc. that are offered at woo lae oak.. the place doesn't impress me, to say the least..

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Pan, I understand. I actually would not necessarily order japanese food at a Korean restaraunt either. ( My friend did the ordering and I left it at that) . But I would recommend the grilled meats and mandoo at Woo Chon.

There are some Korean restaurants that specialize in sashimi, raw fish dishes.

The fish is very fresh. Sometimes they have live tanks with shrimp, lobster, and other fish.

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