The first American location of South Korea’s oldest KBBQ restaurant is coming to New York City’s Koreatown. Sam Won Garden Artisanal Korean Barbecue has signed a lease for a three-level, 10,000-square-foot space at 37 West 32nd St., between Fifth and Sixth avenues, the Post reports.
The tabletop Korean barbecue restaurant was founded in 1976 in Seoul as Korea’s first luxury, large restaurant, known for its nature-focused decoration, featuring a waterwheel, pond, swing, and waterfall. The original location seats 1,200, while the NYC location will seat a mere 175 in comparison. According to Sam Won’s New York operations director Simon Lee, the new restaurant is costing about $5.5 million to open.
Though there are restaurants by the name Sam Won Garden in the South, Sam Won’s New York operations director Simon Lee told the Post that existing places in the South using the moniker — which means cleanliness, kindness, and taste in Korean — are doing so “illegally.” This includes a restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida. The only other legitimate locations of Sam Won are two in Korea and one in Indonesia.
Sam Won’s Koreatown expansion comes as the block is becoming increasingly more luxe. The office tower at the southwest corner of 32nd Street added top-floor, high-end Korean restaurant Gaonnuri in 2012 and the tower’s new owner Global Holdings is reportedly spending $80 million on major capital improvements.
Sam Won will start out by being open until 2 a.m. and will eventually transition into being a 24-hour operation like many of the other Korean restaurants in the neighborhood.