Discovering Korea in New York City

New York City at night (from the Rockefeller Center)

Two weeks ago – wow, it’s been almost two weeks since I saw Big Bang – on Thursday after work, a group of friends and I took off for New York City for the weekend. Okay, technically we were staying in Newark, New Jersey as that’s where the Big Bang concert was (our initial reason for the trip) but we visited NYC too and that’s what this post is about. Well, it’s more about the food we ate in NYC. You see, I can’t escape Korean culture (not that I want to) as it’s now so seeped into my life that I’m almost becoming Korean by association. I know you think I’m joking – and I mostly am – but I do spend a lot of time eating Korean, writing about Korean stuff, attending Korean events, listening to K-pop, watching K-dramas & films, and spending time with my Korean friends… it’s almost like I never left Korea… I love it! ^^ So it made sense that while I was exploring NYC, I would find Korea there too.

You knew I’d find Koreatown ^^

Toronto has a lot of Korean people (and therefore a lot of Korean restaurants) but since NYC has even more, we wanted to eat at a Korean restaurant there and compare (plus our group consisted of three Korean food/culture loving Canadians and three Koreans). So we made plans to check out a Korean BBQ place that was recommended to us by one of my friends. Unfortunately, we didn’t end up eating there as we decided to stay in Manhattan to save time. But we found another place that was also recommended online (the same article that also recommended the restaurant my friend Chris did). We really only had a day to explore NYC – definitely not enough time – and most of what we wanted to see was close to Manhattan’s Koreatown so… that’s where we ended up.

Our first batch of meat is starting to cook ^^

Wow! We all absolutely loved the Korean BBQ restaurant we ended up at – quick & friendly service and delicious food, just what you want in a restaurant. Remember I said our group was made up of three Canadians who love Korean food/K-pop (and in my case, all things Korean) and three Koreans so we were making an informed opinion on the food. It was a great restaurant with authentic flavours & vibe. If you’re in NYC, especially if you are near Manhattan’s Koreatown, visit Kang Suh for yummy galbi. Not only was the food delicious and the portion sizes perfect, but our waiter was super friendly and helpful. When Becky asked if she could have the Big Bang poster they had in their entrance way (this was on Saturday, the concerts were over) he went and asked and she now has a concert poster hanging up in her room. And yes, a tiny part of me is jealous even though I don’t hang posters anymore.

What did we eat – umm… meat. I totally forgot to take a picture of the menu so I can’t tell you exactly but we ordered one of their combo’s – which had three different kinds/cuts of beef – as well as a doenjang jiggae (된장 찌개, spicy soybean paste stew) and a soondubu jiggae (순두부찌게, spicy soft tofu stew). Of course, it was all accompanied by rice (밥) and banchan (반찬, Korean side dishes). We even got gyeranjjim (계란찜, steamed egg) as service (a Konglish word that means something for free – not how the waiter treated us), which rocked as it’s one of my favourite banchan. Man, I love Korean restaurants – not simply because the food is often delicious but also for the “service” (as much as I hate using Konglish). So much yummy food but it was time to finish lunch and start exploring NYC!

We were excited to see this restaurant ^^

While we were walking to MoMA (Museum of Modern Art, our next stop of the day) we saw many fabulous things on the 32nd Street between Broadway and 5th Avenue (which is a short block, but packed with lots of fab stuff). What? The Face Shop, where I was surprised to find the prices the same as online in Toronto, I always think shopping in the US is cheaper but not always. Paris Baguette, my favourite Korean bakery. I used to stop by my local one in Bangi-dong (in Seoul) all the time and was super happy to see they had the cream puffs I love, as well as all the other yummy goodies. And the boys were super excited to see the KyoChon Chicken restaurant so we ended up coming back after our sightseeing (keep reading for more on it) to have dinner there. Yep, it was an all-Korean food day!

We even saw a random parade

Okay, so not everything we did was Korean themed. We did some sightseeing too. We had a lovely walk up 5th Avenue to soak in the NYC vibe and then spent a couple of hours exploring MoMA before heading to the Rockefeller Center for the Top of the Rock attraction. Great views, and by the time we were there, it was night. NYC is beautiful at night. And the Top of the Rock app is great so you know what you’re looking at (free for iPhone or Android). Time Square was our next stop and I have to say, walking around NYC is the closest I’ve come to the number of people in Seoul. I love Toronto but we just don’t have the population to get that same vibe. Time Square is so lit up you almost couldn’t tell it was night. No flash needed. ^^ The Empire State Building was our final stop of the day/night and it was fun listening to the audio tour. No app needed here was the audio tour explained about what we were looking at.

I love Monet ^^ at MoMA

By now it was after 8:00pm and even though we had a late lunch, we were all starved so we headed back to the KyoChon Chicken restaurant (which for those who don’t know is a Korean fried chicken chain – and my personal favourite of the different chicken chains). Our initial plan was to get some chicken as takeout, buy some beer at a convenience store and head back to our hotel for an early night of chicken & beer and conversation. Unfortunately, their takeout menu and their dine-in menu were different and we wanted the chicken on their dine-in menu. So we adjusted our plans and were quickly shown to a table. We ordered two types of chicken – KyoChon’s signature soy garlic and their hot & sweet sauce. Most of the group preferred the soy garlic but I loved the hot & sweet – but man, was it hot. And for me to say that, trust me… it was spicy. The guys also agreed it was hotter but also a little different flavour than the hot & sweet sauce from Korea. Delicious nonetheless! And two whole chickens (cut into pieces of course) was the perfect amount for us. The only odd thing was the pickled radish (치킨 무) that’s always served with fried chicken in Korea – a cubed & slightly sweet/tangy white pickled radish – came thinly sliced instead of cubed, the flavour was the same though. 

Yay! Korean fried spicy chicken!

And that ended my day in New York City – or rather my day discovering Korea in NYC! Have you been to NYC? Did you visit Koreatown there? Any Korean restaurant recommendations?

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

6 thoughts on “Discovering Korea in New York City

  • November 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Sounds like such a good time! I actually went to Mom’s Chicken at Galleria supermarket in North York yesterday for the first time to try their fried chicken and was wondering why the pickled radish came with it as well. A nice yummy surprise all the same 🙂

    • November 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      It was fun but so short! I’m used to the pickled radish – love it and it’s perfect with spicy chicken – but it was in a different form than I was used to. I’ll have to visit Mom’s Chicken now!

  • November 23, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Haha, once Korea enchants you, you can’t escape its grip no matter where you go 😉 When Kimchi Man and I went traveling in Europe, we also ended up chasing down Korean restaurants instead of trying local food. Never regretted it, though. 🙂

  • November 23, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    New York looked fun! And when you’re back in Toronto, The Face Shop has an actual store in Pacific Mall at Kennedy and Steeles (in Markham/Scarborough), which helps with the shipping fees 🙂

    • November 24, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      It was fun! Yeah, I know about The Face Shop at Pacific Mall – it’s just so difficult to get to without a car (I live downtown). So I use Momomango – they have most of the great Korean brands – and wait until I have a big order so shipping charges are waved. 🙂

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: