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Pete Wells Awards Two Stars to Korean BBQ Insa in Gowanus

He also sings Dolly Parton at karaoke and never makes it out of the jungle room

Nick Solares

Pete Wells was incredibly pleased with his experience at Insa, the Korean barbecue restaurant just off the Gowanus Canal. He was particularly happy to see that they have "soondae" on the menu. Here's the Times critic on the blood sausage dish:

I dragged one dark, purplish slice across a line of salt laced with ground chile and perilla seeds. The seared skin crackled between my teeth: the sign of an animal-gut casing. Blood sausage can sometimes be dry, but Insa’s soondae spilled with tender crumbs that were almost juicy, moistened with braised pigs’ snouts and ground belly meat. The noodles gave it a little bounce but didn’t get in the way of the deep, galvanic taste of iron. It was wonderfully well made, and not quite like any soondae I’d tasted on 32nd Street or on the kimchi belt along Northern Boulevard in Queens.

And while it may not be as fun as Señor Frogs, Wells enjoys himself inside Insa's Jungle Room, one of the options for karaoke at the restaurant:

I was in the jungle room, clutching a microphone for dear life as if that would be enough to give me the extra octaves I needed for "Blue Bayou." I hadn’t meant to sing. But one of the servers had opened the door on a room swaddled in orchids and tropical leaves and artificial turf. Then somebody keyed a Dolly Parton number into the karaoke machine.

The bibimbap fails to impress, and the barbecue wasn't his favorite, but the servers are wonderful at guiding guests through the menu. He gives Insa two stars.


328 Douglass Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217 (718) 855-2620 Visit Website