From cheesy rice cake specialties to spare ribs that have been marinated for 48 hours, these five restaurants are serving some of the best Korean BBQ in the city. By Carly Petrone.
Want to eat like Hollywood royalty? Head over to Do Hwa and dine at one of Quentin Tarantino’s favorite restaurants. The award-winning filmmaker invested in mother-daughter duo Jenny Kwak and Myung Ja Kwak’s popular Korean BBQ restaurant. This hip West Village hot spot is serving up traditional ssam-style grilled items like bulgogi (ribeye beef barbecue), dak gui (sesame chicken barbecue), and sam ghup sal (pork belly slice, no marinade, scallion salad). All of these come with your choice of steamed egg casserole or watercress salad. Orders are for two so make sure you bring a date. Their bibimbop is delicious and topped with seven seasoned vegetables while their entrée dishes range from ojingo bokum (spicy sautéed squid) to bibim-gooku (cold buckwheat noodles topped with spicy kimchi and beef). Don’t sit down without trying one of their cocktails. The Saint Rose is tasty – Bulldog gin, Saint Germain, lemon, rhubarb bitters, and petal for $12. Or get a carafe of The Hummingbird – Saint Germain, champagne, and fresh raspberries for $36. Bottoms up!
When you think of Korean BBQ you don’t immediately think of cheese. However, the folks over at this late-night eatery are serving rice cake specialties that consist of various types of protein covered with hot American cheese. The KJD will cost you $25 but it’s worth it. Made with sautéed spicy kimchi, pork, rice cakes, and cheese, this gooey concoction will satisfy any post-karaoke munchies. Those looking for a non-cheesy option should try the Curry Chicken Ddukboki (sautéed spicy curried chicken and rice cakes with cabbage, yams, and sesame leaves). Plus, they have a special late night menu that pairs Korean BBQ favorites with soju. Who can pass that up? Available from 11 p.m. – 2 a.m. everyday.
Vegetarians should flock to Hangawi, where a gluten-free and seasonal menu is also available. Start with the Spicy Kimchi Mushroom Pancakes, Sesame Leaf Tofu Patties, or Acorn Noodle Salad before moving onto the main dishes. The Organic Quinoa and Crispy Kale Stone Bowl Rice is a tasty option while the Mongolian Hot Pot with wild braken shoots, mushroom, and a variety of vegetables cooked in a hot broth will leave you wondering if you could live a life without eating meat ever again. Stick around for dessert and dive into their Blueberry Coconut Cake or Soy Cheese Cake with a scoop of soy vanilla almond ice cream. Those who are gluten-free will be happy to know that they have an entire dessert menu filled with goodies like Black Forest Cake and Tofu Chocolate Pudding. And make sure to try their range of Nongju cocktails – a milky sweet rice wine that is native to Korea.
Not only is miss KOREA BBQ open 24 hours but it’s serious about marinating their meat. Their signature Clay Pot Galbi is short rib that has been marinated in the restaurant’s original sauce then placed in a special clay pot for 48 hours in order to bring out the best texture and flavor of Galbi. Now that’s dedication! Their late night menu also caters to the adventurous eater. You can try everything from Gopchang Bokkeum (beef intestines) to Jjukkumi Samgyeopsal Cheolpan (webfoot octopus and pork belly). Customers can even grab a late night membership card that’s valid from 10:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. and includes a free soju, beer, jjigae, or tang on your sixth visit and a free grilled menu item on your 11th visit. Yep, you can stay all night long and stick around for their morning specials, which include Kongnamul Gukbap (boiled rice in bean sprout soup), Altang (codfish caviar with assorted vegetables in spicy broth), and Haemul (knife-cut noodles in seafood broth). That’ll sure wake you up in the morning!
Kimchi lovers should make their way to Muk Eun Ji Restaurant. They have an entire menu dedicated to this pickled dish that has been imported from Jinan Maisan in South Korea. Beginners can start with Muk Eun Ji (aged kimchi) while those looking for more of a main dish can choose from a variety of different combinations. The Kimchi Jeon (kimchi pancake) is a nice base while the Kimchi Sugseong Samgyupsal (pork belly marinated in kimchi) is a terrific meaty option. There’s also three kimchi-based stews to choose from – spicy pork, spicy saury, or ramyun with span, pork, and sausage. They also have a chef’s special called Bossam, which is steamed pork, raw oyster, and spicy special kimchi. Pair your pickled meal with some Korean sake, soju, or Sapporo and you’ll taste buds will be running on overload.