For quite a while, Korean food has been all the rage in New York City, and new Korean restaurants are popping up all the time, but which ones are the best? I have asked my friend April, who is originally from Seoul, to tell me about her favorite Korean restaurants in Manhattan right now:
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.
On is the place I go to for Korean hotpot, and in case you wonder, Korean hotpot is very similar to Japanese sukiyaki. All the raw ingredients are placed in the big pot first before broth is added and everything is cooked together at the tabletop cooker. On has the same owner as Take 31 and Her Name Is Han.
Hanjan is my favorite Korean restaurant in New York City. The food is traditional Korean and very authentic, and the restaurant is so nice. Hanjan is more expensive than the other restaurants that I have mentioned, but the food is consistently good and I just love that place.
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? They have a fixed-priced dinner menu and you get 3 courses for only $46.
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:)
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.
What’s on my to-do list?
I really want to try David Chang’s new restaurant Kāwi. David Chang has Korean roots, but this is his first real Korean restaurant. I have heard it is supposed to be really good, so Kāwi is on top of my list.
My friend April in NYC
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. We have been friends since 2017 and together, we have eaten our way through most of New York City. After dinner we often end up going out for drinks, and we both have a soft spot for whisky and bourbon (an old favorite is Carnegie Club).