Month: January, 2008

Madangsui BBQ

Friday, January 25th, 2008 | All Things, Eats, Friends

SC, CS and I met in Koreatown ostensibly to celebrate a belated birthday and recent professional successes, but as often happens when the girls and I get together, the evening’s conversation quickly turned to our personal lives. (Hey, men do it too… don’t they?)

We were on West 35th Street to check out the new(ish) Manhattan outpost of Madangsui — a popular Fort Lee, New Jersey Korean barbecue restaurant. At just before 8 on a Friday night, the entrance was packed with mostly Korean diners; we ended up waiting about half an hour to be seated, during which our appetites were whetted by the tantalizingly smoky scent of barbecuing meats — a scent which I carried in my hair and clothes for hours afterwards.

Madangsui

When at last the hostess called our names, springing us from waiting list purgatory, we were led to a table with a sunken grill. We placed our order promptly, kicking off a parade of panchan, the quantity and variety of which I’ve never quite experienced before. In addition to the usual kimchi variations, there was a potato salad (someday I’ll find out how this anachronistic item came to become a standard offering in Korean restaurants), mini pa jun, and a small plate of blue crab, which was served raw, like a ceviche, bathed in gochujang (spicy, fermented pepper paste). By the time our jap chae and raw meats arrived with their accompanying lettuce leaves, every available inch of table top was filled.

Crab panchan

The Saeng Galbi (“fresh butterflied all natural short rib”) – pictured below – was tender and delicious. Likewise the Sam Gyup Sal (sliced fresh pork belly strips) – ¼ inch thick slabs of meat that had the appearance of bacon.

Kalbi BBQ

Through it all, our servers were attentive, manning the grill and bringing us yet more panchan as space allowed, including bowls of chigae (bean paste casserole) and gyeran jjim (the steamed egg dish I tasted for the first time at Kunjip).

It was all more than the three of us could finish. We left the restaurant laden with ample leftovers and new missions.

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A very good place to start

Thursday, January 24th, 2008 | All Things, Eats

After that first visit to Amazing 66 on Mott, I could hardly wait a week before coming back to sample more of their $4.95 lunch menu.

But where to begin? With item #1: Pork Chop with Chili & Spiced Salt.

Salt and pepper pork

The dish was expertly prepared: half a dozen lightly battered pieces of pork on the bone, topped with crunchy fried bits of minced garlic, and slices of scallions and jalapeños. I ended up finishing only about half of this platter. As I was pondering whether to have the leftovers wrapped, the harried waiter swiftly spirited our plates away, rendering my decision moot. No matter, these fried dishes tend not to hold up so well over time anyway.

And, because my friend had a craving: a plate of fried dumplings. I didn’t even see these on the menu, but ask, and ye shall receive.

Fried dumplings

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Go ahead… Jump

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 | All Things, Arts

Jump was created by Korea’s Yegam Theatre Company, and spent several years in development before it premiered at the Woolim Cheongdam Theater of Seoul in 2003. Since then, the show has had successful engagements throughout Asia and Europe, earning a Comedy Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2006. The 90-minute spectacle began an open-ended run at the Union Square Theater on September 25, opening officially on October 7 before a packed house that included the Jolie-Pitt crew.

Jump

Another entry on the long off-Broadway list of “barely verbal foreign imports” (see: Stomp, Blue Man Group, Fuerzabruta), the show is part slapstick comedy, part martial arts demonstration, and part gymnastics display, with shades of The Matrix thrown in.

The men and women of the cast rotate their roles regularly, and were culled from experts in kickboxing, gymnastics, modern dance, and theater. The story, such as it is, revolves around a family of five martial arts specialists (grandfather, father, mother, drunken uncle, daughter) and their skirmishes. During the first act, an unassuming, nerdy young man visits the household and promptly falls in love with the daughter. (We later discover that he is transformed into a wildly gyrating, mesh-shirted Lothario once his coke-bottle glasses are removed.) With seeming randomness, a series of segments are strung together in which the various cast members challenge each other to impressively athletic martial arts and acrobatic displays, under the supervision of the imperious grandfather. All these well-honed skills are put to good use when a pair of hapless burglars break into the family home in the second act.

They fight, they woo, and occasionally members of the audience are brought up on stage to participate in the shenanigans… It makes no sense, really — “more a stage version of Kung Fu Hustle than actual theater” — but it was far more fun than I expected going in.

Jump vendor

Tonight’s burglars — Yun-Gab Hong and Seung-Youl Lee — at the post-show meet and greet. Love the ‘fro!

Jump cast

Afterwards, we ended up at nearby Republic for what may have been the fastest dinner on record. Barely were the orders out of our mouths when the food hit the table, in seeming defiance of all physical law.

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