Friday, July 1, 2011

Korea Town, NYC

Being a Hapa, TLOML responds strongly to good Korean food. Or maybe that has nothing to do with his Korean heritage, and is just because he's a pretty strong eater all around. Anyway, whatever the motivation, finding a good Korean BBQ in New York was high on our priority list.

Korean barbecue, for the uninitiated, involves cooking lovely tender, fatty beef on a charcoal grill at your table. As the food is being provided by Koreans, they also wheel out an enormous boatload of side dishes so no-one goes hungry. The sides always include potato salad (which strikes me as more Sussex than Seoul). Also the essential, stinky pickled vegetables called kimchi, which all Koreans without exception claim have lifesaving properties. And lots of other little salads, pickled vegetables, and fishcakes.

We also like to order bibimpap, mainly because the name is cute. Apparently it means 'mix', which makes sense since it's a bowl of rice and veg which get, well, mixed. Also chapchae, the cellophane noodle salad.

As an aside, TLOML tells me off when I say 'chop chop' to hurry him up. Apparently it is racially insensitive. So I enjoy having licence to say chop in an Asian environment. It's also damn good: hard not to like a salad that involves beef.

K-town in New York is rather smaller than the one in LA. There it sprawls across half of Downtown and Hollywood. Here it takes up four short blocks, around the Empire State building, which is a part of town we usually avoid like the plague. Still, size isn't everything and we were keen to explore.
Fortunately we have two fabulous friends who have just moved here, and are up for culinary adventures too. So we hit Korea Town last night with the New New Yorkers. We went to Don's Bogam, which is all swishy and modern. They have vents above the grill so you don't leave the table smelling of barbecued meat: some would consider this a bonus, others a loss.

We had mandu (delicious steamed parcels of pork), chap chae, bibimpap and three types of beef. That's what happens when TLOML is given free rein with the meat ordering.

And TLOML also told his story which I consider an essential part of any K-town experience: it's about the time his poor Korean language skills resulted in him saying 'I'm so sorry, have mercy on my humble soul' instead of 'goodbye', when leaving a Korean restaurant. Always worth re-telling that one I think.

Whilst we were in the area we bought some proper Korean kimchi and some cheap souvenir t-shirts. Yes, we pretty much got what we expected from night in K-town.

In summary, K-town NY: tiny, but mighty.

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