Tag: barbecue

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.


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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Where there’s smoke…

Sunday, October 28th, 2007 | All Things, Friends

On the way out to Sunnyside Gardens this evening, I noticed these new LED displays on the 7 train. The purple circle and diamond symbols were never very effective in distinguishing between train routes; certainly these new signs are a vast (and long overdue) improvement over the old system of popping your head into a subway car ­– careful to avoid the guillotine action of the closing doors — and yelling “Express or Local?” only to be met with stony stares or indecipherable grumbles. “Lxprzl”?

7 signage

Out on RM’s patio, SYB and I were tasked with starting a fire for the barbecue. Even armed with a box full of matches, the autumn winds posed quite a challenge. It’s situations like these when I think that Girl Scouts training would have been far more useful than piano and violin lessons. We finally managed to get things going after several false starts; the orange flames (and copious wine) provided wonderful warmth against the chilly falling darkness.

Our gracious host brought out a tray of chicken burgers from The Butcher Block, a popular local Irish delicatessen which in 2004 reopened in a new location after its original long-held spot across the street was virtually destroyed the year before in a major fire along Queens Boulevard. I’ll admit that I’m generally not a huge fan of chicken burgers — beef being my usual patty preference — but these were quite good: more like chicken sausage patties. We rounded out the eats with grilled steak and (not grilled) couscous, and over our new friend TD‘s Astoria cherry pie, the talk turned to matters like the rivalries among NYC specialized high schools. Riveting for the non-NYC natives, I’m sure, but when it came out that there were two Science alums in the house, what could we do? As we watched the Sunnyside kindling-fed fires slowly die down to embers in the cold moonlight, I wished I had thought to bring supplies for s’mores — pretty much the only situation in which I prefer Hershey’s milk chocolate bars. Next time.

I had no idea how insidiously the soot had permeated my pores and clothing until on the way home when I was caught in one of those dreaded “sick passenger” delays at Times Square. As more commuters piled into the already crowded subway car, the woman behind me, whose nose was probably no more than three inches from my hair, asked her friend in an alarmed tone, “Do you smell smoke?” I cringed inwardly as I heard the two of them sniffing the air behind my head frantically for the next few seconds, until one muttered a revelatory “Oh.” I sensed, rather than saw, her gesture toward smokey me in disgust.

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