New York City’s Koreatown, in and around 32nd Street, has long been lined with incredible Korean BBQ spots. Now, the delicious grilled meats and stone bowls have spread out around the city, from Manhattan to Brooklyn, in spots that range from casual to Michelin-starred. Here are Caviar’s most popular places to get your kalbi fix.
It’s no wonder that the Michelin-starred Cote tops this list. This Flatiron restaurant combines an upscale American steakhouse with classic K-town BBQ bacchanal. The beef, of course, is only the finest meat, both Wagyu and USDA Prime; the best way to enjoy it is the Ultimate Steak Feast at Home for Two, which comes with four grilled premium cuts like dry-aged ribeye and galbi, two favorite stews (one savory, one spicy), scallion salad, tart and spicy pickles, kimchi and a ssam kit to assemble your own wraps. If you’re not looking to go all out, the USDA Prime Galbi Bowl, with rice and those homemade pickles, is another way to sample their Korean BBQ. Like any great American steakhouse, there’s a wedge salad; unlike most steakhouses, this one’s covered in sesame dressing and crispy shallots. They kept with tradition, though, and included a generous sprinkling of bacon bits.
2. MS. OHHO
For more than a decade, OHHO has been about authentic, unpretentious Korean cuisine that emphasizes quality ingredients and recipes that have been passed down through generations. They are intentionally not trying to reinvent the wheel with familiar dishes, like their bulgogi — thinly sliced tender rib eye and mushroom marinated in spicy house OHHO sauce — or the sweet potato noodle stir fry, jabchae. Order either and you’ll see that these are classics for good reason.
3. Slow Loris
Slow Loris goes beyond traditional Korean BBQ to include a selection of Japanese favorites. On the Korean side of the menu, we love their grilled beef galbi with kimchi and rice and their Korean fried chicken wings. The Japanese section includes a luscious chirashi bowl and a list of creative rolls (the Hawaiian combines spicy tuna with crab meat, avocado, and shrimp tempura). The indecisive can opt for the Slow Loris Combo: bibimbap and sushi.
4. Little Dokebi
With most of their meat and produce coming from the nearby Hudson Valley, quality is a priority for this Korean cafe in Greenpoint. Their barbecue offerings run deep: ribeye, pork belly, jumbo tiger shrimp. Their kalbi (short rib) is tops — and you can get it by itself or in a burrito or taco. We’d also recommend a hearty kimchi chigae stew to go with it. If all of this wasn’t tempting enough, there’s also a whole menu of Korean fried chicken wings (one has a side of blue cheese dressing and carrots that are organic and locally grown).
5. Ssam Korean Bistro
Ssam Korean Bistro caters to everyone’s BBQ preferences, something you’ll notice as you scan the lengthy list of grilled options. In addition to the usual bulgogi and kalbi, they are serving unique options like the spicy squid that comes wok fried with rice and banchan. Vegetarians will not feel left out: The hot stone bibimbap menu includes the kale & tofu dolsot, a rice bowl topped with sautéed vegetables, kimchi, and daikon.
6. Gentle Perch
Gentle Perch has the flavors of Seoul but the chilled out vibes of Austin. Not to say the Michelin Bib Gourmand winner takes a laissez faire approach to food. The menu is brief but appealing: K-BBQ spare ribs, two bowls (the japchae is vegan), two sandwiches (fried chicken, galbi), and a handful of apps (homemade pork-shrimp dumplings!). The longest section of the menu just might be the drinks: four beers, including a Korean rice brew, and five types of infused soju, i.e., they take their beverages (nearly) as seriously as their food.
7. Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong
Winning accolades across the board (The Food Network, Grubstreet), this Koreatown spot places even more importance on meat quality than the average Korean barbecue spot. Baekjeong translates to “butcher,” and that section of the menu is where you can choose from a selection of raw meat to prepare at home. The traditional approach is best sampled by ordering Dinner for TWO or FOUR. Each comes with beef or pork belly and all the fixings: a stew such as kimchi jigae; the distinctly Korean-American corn cheese; assorted banchan, perhaps marinated bean sprouts and cucumbers; rice; and lettuce wraps. Recreating the classic Korean BBQ experience in your jammies is something truly worth trying.
Mokbar prides itself on using seasonal ingredients, which happens to be one of the hallmarks of traditional Korean cooking. The menu is constantly changing to incorporate exciting greenmarket or Flushing Korean grocery finds, and most items come with one of their homemade kimchi. Taste their approach with veggie-laden bibimbap with pickled daikon, kimchi, shiitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, spinach, and an optional fried egg. Those veggie additions can be added to the bulgogi ribeye as well for a fresher take on the Korean BBQ classic. The banchan are varied — garlic broccoli with tofu, spiced honey butter sweet potatoes, seaweed cucumber salad. There’s an option to turn five banchan into a hearty, healthful meal.
9. Barn Joo
At this Korean-inspired gastropub, there’s a revolving menu of farm-to-table comfort foods with a long menu of what they call tapas. Most popular are their organic fried chicken wings, which come in three styles: hot and spicy, soy garlic, and citrus salt and pepper. Their signature salad is robust, with quinoa, almonds, an egg, and seasonal fruits and vegetables; non-vegetarians should add galbi, spicy pork, or bulgogi. That bulgogi can also be found atop spicy rice cakes, or you could add it to tacos or (at lunchtime) a seaweed-wrapped burrito.
Insa is a party destination, known for its karaoke rooms and raucous group dinners, so you might not think of them as an obvious delivery choice. But you’d be wrong, because the food is just as strong as the vibe. The most popular dishes are the bibimbap and their signature Insa fried chicken, whole or half, double-fried and tossed in a spicy sweet sauce, with or without pickles. Pro tip: Add an order of kimchi-and-honey-coated fried mushrooms. No matter what your order, you can specify your allergies and food preferences, which they will accommodate.
11. Hanbat Korean Restaurant
This 24-hour spot has been a K-town staple for years, known for its unpretentious take on traditional home cooking and large portions. Stews are the thing here: gam ja tang has an addictively a spicy broth with potato, pork, and greens, while the spicy soon doo boo chi gae, with soft bean curd, vegetables, and an egg, is a backbone of Korean cuisine. Hot stone bowls and bibimbap are also solid choices. Kalbi can take a night off.
Gunbae brings K-Town vibes to Tribeca. Too bad you can't have their karaoke machines delivered.They have delicious versions of the classics: bulgogi bibimbap, pork-kimchi or seafood-tofu jigae, and seafood or kimchi pancakes. Try a variety in one of their three sampler plates.
13. New Wonjo
The quality of the meat at New Wonjo can’t be overstated. With over a dozen to choose from — including sliced ox tongue and five different takes on short ribs — and the option of having them come fully cooked or ready to cook, you’ll be able to create your own lavish Korean barbecue at home. There are also plenty of more affordable options, including eight types of bibimbop and four kinds of jigae.
Another Michelin Bib Gourmand winner, Antoya, formerly known as Samwon Garden, makes a point of going the extra mile. They make their own kimchi — eight different kinds, all available to order by the jar. Not content with the usual Korean pancakes? Theirs are made with mung beans and bacon or seafood. There’s a whole menu of DIY Korean BBQ (prime cuts of meat, sliced and ready to heat); the Antoya Meat Package is the one to splurge on, with short ribs and pork belly, kimchi jigae, rotating vegetable side dishes, Korean sauces, and rice.
15. Dons Bogam Original
Smack in the middle of 32nd Street lies Dons Bogam Original, looking similar to every other Korean BBQ in K-Town. This one earned a Michelin star thanks to its perfect execution of classics like bulgogi, bibimbap, and galbi — the most popular order. We love how generous they are with veggies (mushrooms, greens, carrots) atop the galbi’s tender braised short ribs and rice; we order that spicy and start with seafood pancakes and steamed pork dumplings. Those wanting to avoid meat can try the tofu & mushroom dolsot, a hearty bibimbap with sauteed tofu, mushrooms, and vegetables.