Tag: Koreatown

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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BonChon birthday

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007 | All Things, Drinks, Eats, Friends

In honor of HYB’s birthday (week), we ended up at BonChon Chicken in K-town tonight. The boys’ last run for newly trendy Korean fried chicken on the day before Thanksgiving didn’t work out when they arrived at 314 Fifth Avenue to find the place unexpectedly shuttered. Random closings occur not all that infrequently, apparently; Yelpers recommend that you call ahead for hours, despite what BonChon’s printed materials list as their hours of operation.

Bon Chon chopsticks

At 8pm this Wednesday, though, the bar restaurant was hopping. Although we were well prepared for a wait, the delay ended being rather longer than we expected, in part due to the infuriating flakiness of the hostess, who slipped in one newly arrived group ahead of ours. To be clear, I am aware of the practical necessity of seating by party size, and this was definitely just a case of poor management. We narrowly avoided a scene — those B brothers are feisty! — which got the evening off to a rocky start, but things could only improve from there.

I do like this chicken, but is it worth the hour’s wait for a midweek table? And the $40 cost for large (16-piece?) platters each of both “hot spicy” and “soy garlic” flavors?

Bon Chon chicken

The birthday boy thought not, but judging from the crowds that pack this place most nights, BonChon has no shortage of devotees. And wow, the “hot spicy” sauce is just that, in a way that sneaks up on you after just a couple of flats/drumettes/drumsticks. Alternating in pieces of the non-spicy soy garlic variety helps some to quench the fire, as do the accompanying cubes of sweet pickled daikon radish. (I’m not as much a fan of the Thousand Island dressed shredded cabbage.) Beer, too — in our case, a $25(!) pitcher of Killian’s Irish Red.

On the BonChon website, the chicken is promoted as food for “health conscious consumers“: “tasteful & nutritiously enriched” with “collagen ingredients promoting healthy and delicious texture and taste.” Seems I’ve heard this one before, and much as I’d like to believe it, I’m not entirely convinced.

Dubious health claims aside, I’m still looking to expand my K(orean)FC horizons. In July, The Voice‘s Robert Sietsema took a look at four Flushing franchises along the strip of Northern Boulevard between 150th and 160th Streets: Kyedong (150-54 Northern Blvd.), KyoChon (156-50 Northern Blvd.), BonChon (157-18 Northern Blvd.), and Cheogajip (160-24A Northern Blvd.). He rated BonChon a solid “B” — better than Cheogajip, but not as good as either KyoChon or Kyedong Chicken.

Hmm… Korean Fried Chicken Crawl 2008?

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