I don't really know why I don't go to Koreatown more often, other than the fact that many of the restaurants there can get pretty pricey. But for months I had been craving bibimbap, which has been an obsession since my trip to Korea two years ago. I especially love the crackling sound of the rice when the bowl arrives at your table and you quickly mix the raw egg on top with all the meat and vegetables in the burning hot stone bowl. And the six or eight side dishes that come with every entree.
Last week I met up with Kian from Red Cook at Kunjip on 32nd St. I'm not sure if it has the best bibimbap in Ktown, but certainly one of the most affordable. We spent under $30 including tip for lunch for two people, for a smorgasbord of food. Other than the above bibimbap with ground beef and vegetables, here are a few more reasons to go.
The spicy tofu and vegetable soup. Unlike with most bright red Korean foods, this isn't going to burn your throat. It comes with the bibimbap and a few other lunch specials.
Like with any Korean meal, you get a bunch of little banchan (small dishes), including two types of cabbage kimchi, dried squid, fermented soy beans, spicy tofu, and jicama.
Imagine the taste of bulgogi, thin strips of sweet marinated beef. Now imagine a generous portion of bulgogi in a soup with thin glass noodles and sliced rice cake. Finally, imagine a broth so savory-sweet you want to lick the bowl. It's listed on the menu as "dook bae ki bulgoki", or L17 on the lunch menu. Order it and thank me later.
The trick is to get to Kunjip early, around 11:30, to beat the lunch crowds. By the time we were leaving, the front waiting area was already full, and there were groups milling around the back near the bathrooms, reciting their orders to the waitresses ahead of time.
9 West 32nd St. (btwn 5th and 6th)
New York, NY
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