A Korean barbecue restaurant with a storied history has opened on the fringe of Koreatown, bringing family recipes from its Busan, South Korea restaurant to midtown Manhattan. Yoon Haeundae Galbi at 8 West 36th St., near Fifth Avenue, is owned by Bobby Yoon, who grew up in his grandfather’s Busan restaurant Haeundae Sommunan Amso Galbijip, which has been open in Korea since 1964. He’s using his grandfather’s recipes, along with those of chef Anna So, to bring a very traditional take on Korean food to New York City.
“Korean food is missing a part because a lot of famous chefs right now in Korea think that to make Korean food more international, they need to do fusion French style into Korean food,” Yoon says. “But for me, the best Korean food is being 100 percent Korean food.”
Thus, the menu takes his grandfather’s recipes for Korean barbecue and sticks strictly to them for the short rib and bulgogi offerings. A signature of theirs is to put potato starch noodles in the well surrounding the grill to soak up and cook in the sauce, something that isn’t commonly seen in KBBQ spots in NYC.
For the rest of the dishes, So — who has worked at Danji and O Ya and comes from a Korean family that used to cook for royalty — put her own spin on classics, like a shrimp and bulgogi pancake that’s popular in Busan. Here, she incorporates chile that turns the pancake red. There are also dishes such as a mushroom bibimbap and mussel soup, as well as a full bar with a focus on rice-distilled soju.
The space, where Kristalbelli used to be, has 136 seats with a smaller, 5-seat bar downstairs and a larger, 15-seat one upstairs. Yoon went for a design similar to his family restaurant, with iron and wood, and brought in ceramics from Korea.
Yoon is now open Monday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., with the bar area staying open until 12 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.