Korean food has been trending in NYC for quite a while, but which restaurants are the best? With so many choices, where do you start? I have asked my friend April to share her favorite Korean restaurants in the city:
Rib No. 7
Rib No. 7 is a new Korean BBQ restaurant known for excellent marinated beef. I usually prefer un-marinated meat for bbq, but the Dressed up Oodae Galbi (marinated prime aged rib) at Rib No. 7 is delicious. In Korea, we have fried rice after the barbecue, and at Rib. No. 7 you can order fried rice prepared at your table with the grease from the barbecue, so remember to save some appetite for that.
The original branch is located in Busan in Korea, and it is highly popular and known throughout the country. My dad used to work in Busan, so I have been with him to Yoon on several occasions. I was therefore delighted to find out that the youngest of the 3 sons of the founder had decided to open a Yoon branch in New York City.
The signature dish at Yoon is the non-marinated galbi, which is divine. Another dish that I often order, and that you don’t find at many other Korean restaurants is the Octopus over rice, which is also very good.
Samwon Garden Korean BBQ
Koreatown is smack in the middle of Manhattan, so the area is easily accessible and very popular among tourists. Though the food in Koreatown is often westernized and not very authentic, but there are some exceptions. One of them is Samwon Garden Korean BBQ, which is a Korean restaurant from Seoul. It recently opened in NYC, and it is very popular among Koreans. In spite of the name, Samwon Garden Korean BBQ also serves regular Korean food, not just barbecue, and their lunch specials are very good too.
Her name is Han
The food at Her Name Is Han is very authentic Korean but the ambience is really cool and stylish, more like a typical NYC restaurant, and the food is really good.
Take 31 is a Korean-style izakaya located right next to Her Name Is Han, and and the two spots have the same owner. Koreans like to eat something when they are drinking and Take 31 serves the kind of food you would want along with your beer/soju/makgeolli. And talking about makgeolli, Take 31is known for their fruit-flavored version of this traditional Korean rice wine.
This is Korean fusion food when it is best. Maybe it is just me, but I think they are just getting better and better over time? The prix fixe menu consists of 5 dishes for 75USD (July 2021) and includes gratuity. Atoboy also has a 2 Michelin star (2021) sister restaurant, Atomix. I haven’t been there yet, as it is impossible to get a table, but I’ve heard it is supposed to be very good.
Oiji is a modern Korean restaurant in East Village. It is extremely popular right now, so no matter when you go, it always seems to be jam-packed. Try their honey butter chips, this is the dessert everybody is talking about:)
This Korean fine dining restaurant opened during the pandemic, and it is such a nice place. The food is very different from the spiciness and heavy marinades that people usually associate with Korean food. The flavors are natural and somewhat light and subtle, with some fusion elements mixed into the modern Korean dishes.
The tasting menu consists of 7 courses and costs 130USD (March 2022).
So I know this was supposed to be about Korean food in Manhattan, but I just want you to know that you find the most authentic Korean food out in Murray Hill in Flushing. It is difficult to visit the restaurants out there if you do not speak Korean, as most menus are Korean only and the staff only speaks very little English, but the food is very good and much cheaper than in Manhattan.
My friend April in New York City
April is originally from Seoul in Korea, but she has been living in New York City for 19 years, so she is a real New Yorker now. Though she has not forgotten her love for Korean food, and if there is anyone who knows the Korean restaurant scene in NYC, it is April.