Overlooking Koreatown and Herald Square, this 39th floor restaurant has great views and a definite sense of occasion. Sleek, spacious and atmospheric, our only qualm here was with portion size and prices: we spent $60 each excluding drinks/desserts and left with partially-full stomachs. Service was excellent, and the Haemul Pajun (tiny scallion & seafood pancake, $15) Bossam (pork belly, octopus & oyster kimchi, $18) and Octopus Bokkeum ($22) were tasty appetizers. The Black Cod Gui ($42) is like a Vietnamese claypot fish, caramelized and soft, and the high-quality Bulgogi ($32) was cooked at the table unobtrusively. Drinks selection was great, with wine, cocktails and even some craft beers; we just wish there had been double the amount of food.
Subway: 34th St/Herald Square
This mid/upscale Korean restaurant is basically a boutique ramen joint that NYC is so fond of these days – just don’t say ramen, as ramyun is distinct from its Japanese cousin. Kimchi flavors abound, and because Douglas Kim, the Michelin-starred chef from Per Se is at the helm, the finest meats and broths are used. The Toro Ssam Bap (fatty tuna, scrambled egg, Tobiko rice) is served in a small bowl with nori to wrap/fold it in; at $23 it’s a little pricey for a mushy mix that feels masticated before it even enters your mouth. The chicken wings were plain and uneventful, but the real stars were the ramyuns: the Gochu was spicy and punchy, while the Jeju was rich and creamy, with the veal broth and brisket meat well paired. Some hits and misses then, but worth a look if you’re walking around the Village in need of a hearty bowl.
Subway: W4 St/Washington Sq
One of the best-known food trucks in NYC opens a Noho/East Village restaurant and Delusionaryculinary makes it there in the first month – what a coup!
Regulars of the mobile version say that this is just as good, if not better: with a choice of tofu, beef or chicken in rice or salad bowls or in burritos, and an array of different pickled veg, kimchis, sauces and seasonings, you can really customize your dish. They could offer more than cans of soft drinks in their beverage choices, but these are early days and things will no doubt change on that front. However, nothing costs more than $9, and service is warm and welcoming, with energy and action thrown in with the music and mayhem.
Subway: Astor Place
In the small arcade of shops between the Oxford St/Tottenham Court Rd junction and the start of Shaftesbury Avenue is the start of a mini Koreatown: a half dozen restaurants that offer a range of traditional barbecue, bibimbap and bulgogi as well as soups and snacks, all at low prices. My first foray involved a spicy beef soup (£5) at Seoul Bakery, a lively little greasy spoon with very friendly service. Water is immediately put on tables, and food served very hot indeed.
Tube: Tottenham Court Rd