We have all kinds of Asian food here in NYC, especially in Queens and Manhattan. Of course there is Chinatown, ever famous, and we have K-town, which is essentially Korea-town. But we are not limited to certain neighborhoods, good food is everywhere. I researched the hell out of our Korean restaurants to find three of the best, and then I was on my way. Here’s what I found:
You could almost miss Atoboy on 28th Street (I almost did), the entrance is non-descript, the sign small and plain. This restaurant has been described as minimalist, and I can only agree. However, don’t get it confused, it is beautiful in its own right. Even though it has a recommendation by the sought after Michelin Guide, don’t break out your Sunday best, this place is casual in an upscale kind of way.
There is no actual menu to choose from, it consists of a choice of items from a 5-course menu. Which I happen to love. My choices were absolutely delicious, and the presentations was outstanding. Everything was dainty, artistic and just beautiful. I started out with a Smoked Dubu Waffle Cone with Fuji Apple and Jochung. It was literally gone in two heavenly bites. Next was a King Crab Salad (which looked nothing like I expected) with Burrata, Bloomsdale Spinach and Pine Nut Milk. Amazing. The third course was Scallop & Dubu, which was also unexpected in the way it was served, It was combined with Shrimp, Bracken Fern in an Ox Bone Sauce. My favorite course was the next one, Porkbelly served with smoked Soy, Kale and Spring Onion. It was absolutely divine. The dessert was called Sujeonggwa Granita, and it was yet another optical illusion. It looked like rice! However it consisted of lychee yogurt, burrata and walnuts, it had an amazing taste of cinnamon, ever so slightly. I can’t even tell you how much I loved this dinner.
This Korean-American restaurant is located on 6th Street between Avenues A and B, it’s totally hip, the music is Hip Hop, there is graffiti and other paintings on the wall, it’s Very Lower Eastside, and I just adore it. The food at Nowon is Korean, but it has some very distinct American influences, it’s a great new (or maybe not that new) trend that I’m whole heartedly supporting! I was so happy I tried their food, because, honestly, nothing there was anything I ever tried before. You know I was a happy camper.
I dined with my trusted sidekick, my daughter Sasha, and let’s just say: we went to town. We started with Guacamole and Chips, which were made of avocado, pickled onion, sunflower seeds, cilantro, Nowon’s roasted chili oil, served with sesame rice crackers. This was so different, and my daughter said that it was the best guacamole she ever had, I’m inclined to agree. Next we shared Chopped Cheese Rice Cakes with spiced beef soy pickled jalapeño, parm, breadcrumbs, lettuce and tomato. This was a most unexpected dish, and we totally inhaled it, so dang good. As the the main dishes we chose the Legendary Burger with two patties, American cheese, kimchi mayo and Bread & Butter pickles. I can confidently say that this is one of the best burgers in NYC. Sasha chose the Skillet Pork Belly with shishito, onion, bean spout and a horseradish mustard sauce, accompanied by an order of Crispy Tater Tots spiced with curry. I swear on everything I own, it was one of the best meals I ever had.
Barn Joo has two locations in NYC, one on 35th Street and one in Union Square. To be honest, I decided to dine here with my girlfriends to have some Korean BBQ, I heard that they were pretty good. However, it was during Covid times, and I didn’t realize that we weren’t permitted to be seated inside, where all the BBQ action was usually happening. The menu was limited due to the times. Of course that didn’t scare me away, there was plenty of good stuff on that menu!
We had a table full of food, and I quickly forgot about my BBQ craving, it was an excellent meal. Our starters were Big Rock Oysters from Massachusetts and Calamari with Peanuts and paprika, served with a tartar sauce. Righteous appetizers. Our main dishes were a Stone Bowl Bimibap with Bulgogi over Five Grain Purple Rice, Braised Short Ribs with pine nuts, chestnuts, mushrooms and peppers, and a Spicy Rice Cake Bulgogi with gochujang, kabocha squash, onions and bell peppers. These were very traditional dishes, packed with Korean flavors and spices, we all went home happy.