In addition, Korean-Americans have begun opening restaurants in other boroughs, introducing harder to find dishes from Korea, experimenting with styles beyond barbecue, and drawing in a new generation of fans. NYC's Korean restaurant scene has never been better. Here are some of the best places to get Korean barbecue in the New York area with notes on what to order.
Jongro BBQ — Though it's tucked away on the second floor of an otherwise unremarkable office building in Koreatown, Jongro BBQ is where diners in the know go when they want to avoid the lines outside Baekjeong. This place has one of the best lunch deals in Midtown: $9.99 includes an option among several grilled meats or fish, and comes with banchan (the sides that come with every Korean meal) and a stew. You'll have to splurge a little more for the kalbi — marinated short rib, a Korean barbecue classic — and the cold noodles lunch combo, which comes in at $12.99. It's not quite as good as when the meat is grilled in front of you, but you have the benefit of not smelling like smoke when you get back to work. They also recently introduced new group menus, and have private rooms for 20 to 30 people. 22 W 32nd St, Fl. 2, New York; (212) 473-2233.
Her Name is Han — Her Name is Han is putting out some of the best Korean comfort food in NYC. The place has all of the Korean barbecue staples on offer, as well as fire-grilled bulgogi prepared similarly to basak (crunchy) bulgogi, sans perilla leaf. There is, however a perilla leaf wrap with bulgogi, called sambap on the menu. The sauteed rice cakes with shishito peppers and kabocha are a riff on the old-fashioned girim tteokboki. 17 E 31st St, New York; (212) 779-9990; http://www.hernameishan.com.
Keum Sung Chik Naengmyun — Take the Long Island Railroad from Penn Station to the Murray Hill stop. It features a heavy-hitting lineup of some of the best KBBQ you can find anywhere, with Mapo, Ham Ji Bach, Han Joo, and outposts of Baekjeong and Jongro within walking distance. Don't sleep on Keum Sung Chik Naengmyun, either. Naengmyun — cold noodles in a chilled beef broth — is an ideal summer dish. It's also a great way to cool down after ordering the haraboji bulgogi, a variation of yook soo bulgogi — popularized by Baek Jeong Won, one of Korea's most famous and prolific restaurateurs — where the bulgogi is cooked in beef broth (yook soo), with scallions, mushrooms, and aged kimchi for a little bit of spicy and sweet. 40-07 149th Place, Queens; (718) 539-4596.
Majang Dong — Half a mile from the Murray Hill LIRR is Majang Dong, which is inspired by pojangmacha, tents set up on the streets in Seoul where people go to eat and drink late into the night. It has the requisite nondescript storefront. Ignore the fried chicken under a heat lamp and empty tables, and head into the backyard, to the tent blasting 90's K-pop. Sit on one of the tiny pink chairs around the charcoal grill, order some soju, kalbi (marinated right before it's thrown onto the grill), and intestines or eel. In colder months, order janchi guksu, an anchovy or beef broth soup with wheat noodles. 41-71 Bowne Street, Flushing; (718) 460-2629.
Brasserie Seoul — Brasserie Seoul is a follow-up to Kristalbelli (best known for its gimmicky crystal grills and owned by Korean music mogul JYP), an attempt to mimic modern Korean restaurants with French sensibilities like Oiji, Danji, and Goggan. However, something doesn't quite fit: It's appropriately awkward for a restaurant that juts out of a Holiday Inn in the middle Downtown Brooklyn. Menu options include a banana split, chicken noodle soup, a burger with guacamole, and a surprisingly traditional marinated short rib (kalbi) presented on a sizzling stone plate and served with a side of roasted shishito peppers for $33. You could also get the $35 surf and turf that includes spicy king crab and kimchi salad, available for lunch and dinner. 300 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn; (917) 909-0970.
Insa — In Gowanus and far away from K-Town, Insa offers the complete K-Town experience. The barbecue is a little on the pricy side but solid, and the other dishes like homemade soondae (blood sausage) and the yuk hwe really shine. The place even takes reservations, and Threes Brewing is across the street if you're in need of some liquid courage before karaoke in one of the restaurant's back rooms. 328 Douglass St, Brooklyn; (718) 855-2620; insabrooklyn.com.