January 11, 2012 § 1 Comment
One of the many television shows I’ve been watching over winter break is Kimchi Chronicles, a PBS documentary slash travel show about the food and culture of Korea. Of course, it was only natural that afterwards, I had a fierce craving for Korean barbecue and kimchi. When it came to deciding where to meet some Georgetown friends in New York City, Kunjip in midtown came to mind.
The restaurant was just starting its dinner rush when we arrived, but within half an hour, there were lines out the door, which we took as a good sign for the food. Overall, service was efficient and almost a bit too hurried, but you could tell that the manager and staff had done this many times before and had developed a system to make sure tables were being filled as quickly as possible.
We began with panchan – small side dishes to accompany the meal – which included various kinds of kimchi, mung bean sprouts, steamed eggs, and fish cakes with vegetables.
We ordered haemool jun gol, a spicy seafood soup with a whole octopus, clams, shrimp, crabs, tofu and rice cakes. Although the flavors were good and I loved that our server cut up larger pieces of seafood with scissors, the octopus became quite tough and overcooked, pretty much inedible since it was so chewy.
We couldn’t have a Korean dinner with barbecue, so we ordered kalbi, which was served ssam style with fermented bean paste, rice, scallion salad, and garlic wrapped in lettuce. The meat was very tender and juicy, but the portion was a bit underwhelming considering the price tag.
Our final dish was ddukboki, starchy cylindrical rice cakes reminiscent of gnocchi in a spicy, sweet stew with onions and carrots. So comforting, my favorite dish of the evening for its simplicity.
Afterwards, we stopped at nearby Koryodong for bubble tea and dessert. The pastries and assorted breads were standard Korean desserts and not particularly jaw-dropping, but the space was the perfect place for all the catching up we had to do.
In the past, I’ve kind of forgotten about Koreatown since it’s so close to Penn Station, but after visiting these two places, I’m looking forward to exploring its restaurants and cafes a little more in the future.
9 W. 32nd Street
New York, NY 10001
31 West 32nd Street
New York, NY 10001