Category Archives: Korean

Barn Joo

I recently had a meal here when celebrating a friends birthday party. Here’s a quick rundown of everything I tried:

This chicken with peanuts dish was really tasty. Nicely fried morsels of dark meat.

These fried beef dumplings were better still. I could have eaten a dozen.

While I’m not a huge tofu guy, these fried cubes were pretty tasty. I’d eat them again, but definitely not over the other two apps above.

Next up, beef noodles. These were ultimately pretty middle-of-the-road. Nothing stand-out about them.

The star of the show, however, was this pork belly dish. So much nice quality belly, with some chiccharones and a great spicy bean curd dip to boot. Awesome.

The octopus was perfectly cooked and had a great crunchy texture on the outside, but there was just something about it that bugged me. It had a flavor that reminded me of the smell of dried fish food. Perhaps it was something added on top for seasoning.

Lastly, their pickles and kimchi items are superb here. Some of the best I’ve had.

I would definitely go back here again.

BARN JOO
35 Union Square W
New York, NY 10003

Brasserie Seoul

Brasserie Seoul is a Brooklyn French restaurant where Chef Park is using Korean ingredients to execute his dishes.

I hesitate to call this ppace fusion, since the menu is decidedly French. However I suppose the heavy use of Korean ingredients takes it comfortably into that category.

I came in with two other Instagrammers to shoot some photos of their popular dishes. Here’s what we had:

FIRST ROUND

Foie Gras Amuse: cherry puree and grilled grapes on brioche.

Oysters with Pork Belly: five spice pork belly and chopped kimchi dressing both east and west coast varietals.

Wagyu Beef Tartare: wasabi oil and Korean pear with pinenuts and quail egg.

That was really good. Probably my favorite dish of the night.

SECOND ROUND

Seafood Pancake: bay scallops, shrimp, squid and scallions with a ginger soy aioli.

Truffle Tteok & Cheese: rice cakes with three-cheese bechemel, white truffle oil, panko and gochugaru (a red pepper flake blend).

THIRD ROUND

Cod: jajang puree (black beans), gochugaru carrot reduction, wilted baby kale, and roasted sunchoke.

Kimchi Bouillabaisse: mussels, pollack, shrimp, baby octopus, fried tofu, rice cakes and cabbage kimchi.

FOURTH ROUND

Duck Trio: fried duck confit, breast, crispy skin and foie. More like duck four ways I guess. Blood orange gastrique with cherry puree and candied ginger.

Wagyu NY Strip Steak: black garlic, Korean sea salt, green chili puree and citrus cho ganjang (vinegar soy sauce). 7/10. This was a bit leaner than I expected from wagyu. The flavor was nice, but I’ve had much better prime strips at half the price (this will run you $80).

This steak came with roasted fingerling potatoes:

This place is pretty good. I’m not sure I’d hoof it all the way out to Brooklyn for a second visit, but the tartare, seafood pancake, tteok & cheese and duck dishes were all fantastic.

BRASSERIE SEOUL
300 Schermerhorn St
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Osamil

Osamil serves up a really great brunch on weekends. They open nice and early too, at 10:30, so if you’re like me and think that brunch is really just a big breakfast with booze, then 10:30 is right on the money. We went at 12:30 with another food couple that we’re friends with though, so this became our main meal of the day.

The cocktail menu is really fun here. This pink one had watermelon foam and mescal. Very nice.

I also tried a michelada (beer and bloody mix), which was nice.

And we shared this giant punch bowl.

As for the food, we started with some kimchi deviled eggs, which had a nice spice level to them.

Next up was cold uni bibimbap. Essentially this is rice, kimchi, egg, quinoa, onion, nori, mixed greens and other tasty things, mixed up with some uni (wish there was more).

This asian pear salad with candied walnuts was really nice and refreshing too.

The broth for these mussels is incredibly slurpable. I was eating it by the spoonful throughout the meal. And yes there is bacon in there.

And those fries you see there are some of the best in the city. Might be my new favorite, as a matter of fact. They’re dusted with pimento and finished with truffle oil.

Okay so let’s get to the meat. First, spam. I know, I know… but it really is good.

Next, pork belly, lettuce and tomato sandwich. So good!

But here’s the show stopper: grilled prime hanger steak served atop bacon and kimchi fried rice, with a sunny-side up egg. Amazing.

THAT’s what breakfast should be… Not only is it gorgeous but it tasted great too. The steak could have used a bit more salt and pepper, but that’s only if you were eating it by itself. When combined with the rice, you got all the savory elements from the bacon and kimchi working together with the steak, so it’s all good. 9/10.

OSAMIL
5 W 31st St
New York, NY 10001

Ms. Yoo

I was invited into Ms. Yoo to try their burger and help promote it on Instagram. I brought a couple of food photo people with me as well, so we were able to order a bunch of other stuff in addition to the burger.

Ms Yoo is essentially an American joint, but it incorporates lots of Korean flavors and ingredients into each dish that you really walk away thinking you ate a 100% Korean meal. I guess one could call it “fusion,” but it’s not pretentious and douchey like other “fusion” places can  be.

First up was this bowl of nori popcorn to get things started.

The salted seaweed adds a nice natural savory element to the snack.

Next up was the beef carpaccio. This baby was gorgeous, topped with watercress, edible flowers and a cured egg yolk.

Then we tried some mac and cheese made from rice cakes (tteok).

The rice cakes are the perfect texture and vehicle to drive a great, cheesy comfort food like mac abad cheese. This one was made with gruyere and cheddar, and had a panko crust.

This was absolutely delicious, especially since it had copious amounts of bacon in it. That dipping sauce you see there is made with tomatoes and kimchi.

There are two varieties of chicken wing: spicy gochujang and honey soy sesame. The breading was perfectly crisp. While I typically like spicy wings best, the honey soy sesame was my favorite between the two.

We also had some bone marrow, which came with a bacon kimchi onion jam. Yeah – wild!

There’s also a really unique and flavorful hot dog on the menu here, topped with a dynamite grilled jalapeño pepper.

And that’s homemade Korean pork sausage on a pretzel roll with some Yoo sauce to boot (a spicy mayo, I think). Easily one of my favorite dishes of the night.

Oh yeah and the burger! This beauty is 10oz of beefy goodness topped with American cheese, Yoo sauce, and a kimchi bacon onion jam that will make you mouth water for days after tasting it.

I’m really looking forward to going back and eating that burger again, actually. And part of the reason why is because I want this as an encore for dessert:

These are honey-butter chips, and they’re the closest thing that Ms Yoo has on the menu to a dessert at the moment (there will be a dedicated dessert menu in time). These are just fried root veggie chips, like taro, potato and sweet potato, but they’re dressed in a sweet, yet savory and spicy, honey-butter glaze that’ll blow you away. Absolute must try.

UPDATE 6/16/18

Had the delicious pork belly bossam. This is mandatory.

Also tried the flank steak. 7/10 – just needed more seasoning.

MS YOO
163 Allen St
New York, NY 10002

Bo Ssam Feast

I recently teamed up with @LetsDutch to organize a large format meal and promote the awesome service that they provide for their users. In case you missed it last time, I’ll explain a little bit about what Let’s Dutch is again.

Have you ever wanted to partake in a group experience but had trouble rallying your friends to join? Well, now you don’t have to miss out on that event. Let’s Dutch allows you to host or join in group events, curate a guest list and securely pay for things ahead of time. It can be used on anything from super luxurious vacations to simple discounted group rate experiences around town.

You’re essentially crowdfunding your fun, sharing the experience and splitting the cost.

The cool part is that you get to know people with similar interests. For example, in the two large format dinners I’ve done through Let’s Dutch, I’ve cultivated at least a half a dozen friendships.

So for this “meating” of the Carcass Club, we had a beast feast with some pork shoulder at Momofuku Ssam Bar. This is known as their large format Bo Ssam feast, which feeds 6-10 people. Let’s Dutch President Vincent Paradiso and I stacked the seats with four or five Instagram influencers, and then held a sweepstakes giveaway for the remaining seats.

Here’s how the meal went down.

We started with the famous pork belly buns. These were fantastic. Super tender, highly flavorful.

Then the Bo Ssam items started coming out. First the lettuce wraps and Korean sauces.

Then the oysters, which are meant to be placed into the lettuce wraps along with the pork and sauces.

And finally, the massive hunk of pork shoulder.

Pictures don’t really do this thing justice. To get the scale of it, you should really see it as it is being pulled apart with tongs.

The meat was tender and delicious, especially the fattier parts that held in a lot of juiciness.

We also had some nice mushroom soup with lotus root. This was absolutely delicious, and might have actually been my favorite part of the meal.

And then some dessert: green tea creme brulee with miso and blueberry crust.

And toffee cake with brown sugar ice cream.

The toffee cake was the big winner as far as desserts go. Great meal, great people, great service. I highly recommend both the large format feasts at Momofuku AND the Let’s Dutch service.

MOMOFUKU SSAM BAR
207 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

Miss Korea

My wife scored a crazy flash deal for KBBQ here at Miss Korea. The regular price was $95 but with additional coupon codes, she paid something like $70 for this BBQ barrage. We went above and beyond, though, when we started with this bowl of makgeolli (slightly bubbly, unfiltered rice wine at about 6% alcohol that drinks as easily as soda). I love this stuff.

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First was a simple salad to get the juices flowing.

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Then a bowl of rice porridge with dried fruits and nuts. This was refreshing and light.

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Next up was a trio of Modeum Jeon pancakes: corn, kimchi, spinach.

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These were amazing. Usually they’re thin, greasy and too crowded with scallions. Not the case here. These were thick and light.

Holy shit this thing came out next… Tuna tartare. But look at how vibrant the color is on this!

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It had a perfect sear on the outside, nice and peppery. I could eat this all day long.

Next up was this spicy Sinseollo hot pot that had chestnuts, soy beans, veggies, beef and fish mixed in.

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Very soul-warming, satisfying, and totally unique.

Then came the onslaught of banchan: small dishes and bowls of pickled items (kimchi) and veggies.

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These are used to dress up your lettuce wraps, in which you place the finished BBQ meat after its all grilled up nicely.

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Then you wrap it up and eat it.

But wait.. I skipped the best part. The MEAT! Our meal came with a plate of four meats: thick cut pork belly, spicy pork bulgogi, boneless beef rib and beef short ribs. Look at this fucking short rib…

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That marbling… Holy shit! I was so captivated that I didn’t bother shooting the other meats. Just perfect. My order of preference: short rib, belly, bulgogi, boneless rib.

We also had a braised salmon dish. This was a bit dry and overcooked for my liking. In fact we threw the salmon meat into the hot soup dish for the next course, but I really enjoyed the sauce and radish that came with it. It was topped with a slice of lotus root too.

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Next course: noodles. I couldn’t believe we were each getting a bowl here. We picked Haemul Kalguksu: spicy seafood noodles (hot); and Mul Naengmyeon: green buckwheat noodles (cold). Both were tasty but we seriously had no more room left in our stomachs! We brought these home, but not before my wife lifted the noodles for an Instagram pic.

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That cold soup (green noodles) had some sweetness to it from the shaved winter melon within.

And then there was dessert. Little puffy, sweet and soft logs of fried dough with a cup of cold and sweet rice juice.

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Between tax, tip and drinks I dropped another $50 on this meal, but for an all-in grand total of $120 (including the $70 we paid for the flash deal), this was a steal. I highly recommend this joint.

MISS KOREA
10 W 32nd St
New York, NY 10001

Bann

I picked up a Groupon deal for about $12 that gave me $40 to spend here at Bann. Pretty solid bargain. My wife and I started with a pair of apps; steamed buns and wings.

The buns contained marinated thinly sliced beef rib eye and spicy daikon. There were pretty good, and I liked the sauce, which was based on spicy bean paste, only a little thinner.

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I liked the wings a lot, though I wish the honey chili glaze made them a little spicier. In any case they were hot, crispy, tender and tasty. And that’s ultimately all that fucking matters.

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For our entrees we went with a noodle dish and a rice dish. First, the rice dish: steak tartare bibimbap with a raw egg yolk.

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This was pretty great, served cold, of course, with a side of spicy bean paste. The greens there are spinach, and there are some other shredded veggies and mushrooms in the bowl as well.

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Our noodle dish was very similar to a pork belly lo mein.

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It was pretty good, but had I known it would be similar to Chinese food, we probably would have selected something else.

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LIFT!

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BANN
350 W 50th St
New York, NY 10019

Atoboy

Atoboy is a new Korean fine dining joint with a new concept; you choose three dishes for a $36 tasting with a bowl of rice. The menu is set out in three sections, which are somewhat similar to an app, salad and entree breakdown. You choose one of each, but can add additional items from each section at an upcharge of $9, $12 or $15, depending on which section you’re choosing from. White rice and some kimchi (both cabbage and tomatillo varieties) comes with your meal, but they also offer a seasonal rice for $2 extra. Currently, the seasonal rice is a white rice that’s been mixed with powderized nori.

The portions are a little small, but they’re all really well executed and delicious. Since I came here with Jay from The Dishelin Guide, we sampled an extra entree item as well as a dessert in addition to our three courses each. Here’s what we had:

Eggplant with snow crab and tomato jelly. While this doesn’t look pretty or even sound particularly appetizing, it was actually pretty tasty. I’m generally not a big fan of eggplant to begin with, but I was pleasantly surprised.

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Littleneck clams with avocado cream, rice crackers and gochugaru (red chili flakes). This was pretty good. I’ve never had clams with avocado before. It was pretty interesting. The rice crackers gave the dish a nice dynamic texture.

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Next was grilled avocado with horseradish, cotija (hard cow’s milk cheese) and trout roe. I’ve never had grilled avocado before. I just assumed doing anything to a ripe avocado would result in guacamole due to the softness. Perhaps these are grilled while they’re still a little bit hard to avoid structural breakdown? In any case, this was a tasty and healthy dish.

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This next dish is highly recommended, and was one of my favorites of the night. Squid rings, stuffed with pork and shrimp, then topped with salsa verde. The squid was perfectly cooked and tender, and the stuffing gave a nice salty and fatty flavor. Plus, it was really pretty.

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Now we move on to the big winners from this dining experience; the entree selections. We started with crispy pork jowl on a bed of barley, ssamjang (spicy and sweet sauce/paste) and romaine.

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The crispy skin and under-layer of fat were delicious, and as I bit down into the meat beneath, my mouth came alive with salivation. Great dish!

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Next up was the brisket with melted foie gras, garlic and ginger. This was really hearty and delicious. The beef was super tender and can rival any top notch BBQ brisket you might find out there at a pit smoker competition (though this one was admittedly not prepared the same way with a smoker – it’s just the same cut of beef).

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Our last entree item was the strip steak. This came with a tofu skin and celery salad, and everything was lightly dressed with sesame oil.

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The steak was super tender and flavorful. They marinade the steak with kiwi to allow the enzymes to slowly tenderize the meat before it is cooked. That may be the reason why there was a healthy amount of grey banding around the edges of the meat.

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The outside could use a slightly better crust, but I imagine they need to be careful not to overcook the steak, as it isn’t very thick. This was a big success though, overall, and it tasted like wagyu. 9/10.

For dessert we tried this black raspberry cake with hazelnut and pistachio, which was garnished with fresh blueberries. This is the only dessert that’s made off-site by another pastry person. The texture was almost like mousse, and the look reminded me of Italian tri-color cookies. Very nice.

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Although expensive at $80 each after tax and tip, this was a satisfying, unique and delicious Korean fine dining experience.

ATOBOY
43 E 28th St
New York, NY 10016

Muk Eun Ji

Matt BruckSeolbin Park and the folks at SB Groupe and EatersDrinkers invited me to a pretty cool aged kimchi tasting at Muk Eun Ji recently.

I actually DO have to write this next bit, because there were a few people at the event who had never eaten kimchi before. For various reasons I will not disclose, this was completely understandable and should not be mocked or taken as a point of negativity.

So here it is: Kimchi is Korean for “pickled” and/or “fermented” veggies. In its most typical form, kimchi consists of cabbage with various spices and herbs. Cucumbers are also common.

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Muk Eun Ji is known for its 1+ year aged kimchi. This tasting event featured their aged kimchi in every dish in various ways. Here is a shot of owners Cathy and Yongsung Kim, who were very gracious and kind, and who explained everything to us as we ate.

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Dish 1: Crunch Muk Eun Ji – washed aged kimchi seasoned with sesame oil. This was mild and really tasty.

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Dish 2: Yuk Hwe – Korean beef tartare. Okay, while this ONE DISH didn’t actually have any kimchi in it, the flavors were present, perhaps in the sauce. This was skirt steak. Super tender and incredibly delicious.

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Dish 3: Kimchi Jeon – Korean pancake with aged kimchi. This had a nice crunch on the outside with a great spicy kick from the kimchi and scallions inside. As you can see from the pics below, this joint has a fun conveyor belt in one dining room, where  you can pluck the little dishes right off and start digging in.

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Dish 4: Mandu – steamed homemade Korean dumplings with aged kimchi. These were expertly created and cooked. I loved the dipping sauce on the side actually. Wanted to drink it.

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Dish 5: Janchi Guksu – cold thin noodle with aged kimchi in spicy anchovy broth. This was one of my favorite bites of the night. It wasn’t too spicy, and the cold noodle was great for the summer.

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Dish 6: Kimchi Bokkeumbap – stir-fried rice with chopped aged kimchi and pork. Also a favorite, this rice dish packed a lot of flavor and meatiness. I could easily eat a massive bowl of this.

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Dish 7: Samhap – boiled pork belly, fermented skate fish and aged kimchi. This is an acquired taste. The fermented skate has a distinct ammonia-like quality to it that is common with fermented fish products, whether from regions like Scandinavia or Iceland, as well as parts of Asia. One thing that I didn’t expect was that the skate would have some bone connected to the meat. I popped all of it into my mouth at once and then had to work around the bones. It was a difficult eat for me.

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Dish 8: Galbi Jjim – braised beef short rib stew with aged kimchi and vegetables. This was incredible. The small bowl tasting size didn’t do the dish justice.

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I actually didn’t get to taste it on first pass, so I and a few other guys who missed out asked for some more later on. They brought out a full entree size.

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This is a $20 item. There is so much fork-tender beef that falls off the bone in that bowl, so it is an amazing deal at that price point. As you can see from the pic above, there’s tons of kimchi too. This will feed two or three people easily. The sauce is amazing. A deep, robust flavor lurks in there, so soak it up with some rice after you get tired of spooning it directly into your mouth.

Dish 9: Deungppyo Jjim – braised pork backbone with aged kimchi. Same deal as above, but with tender-ass pork instead of beef.

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Dish 10: Gyeranmari – Korean style rolled egg omelet with aged kimchi, cheese and sliced pork belly. This is like heaven at breakfast time, I bet. Absolutely delicious, and really beautiful.

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Dish 11: KBBQ – premium thick cut pork belly, thin sliced marinated beef short rib and aged kimchi on the grill. No Korean meal is complete without gorging on some delicious grilled meats.

I mean, this is what I’m all about, is it not?

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So the idea is to take the meat and add some of the nice toppings from the small plates, and then wrap it up in some lettuce. Then eat.

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Carb-free! Haha. I love this shit. It may be time for a separate page dedicated to KBBQ on this website. I’m considering it. There really is nothing quite like it. So satisfying.

I should also mention that we were washing this delicious shit down with some nice drinks throughout. We tasted an assortment of soju and makgeolli. For the uninitiated, soju is a mild distilled spirit that is similar to a flavored sake.

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Mokgeolli is more like a rice or wheat beer in that it is bubbly and looks unfiltered. It contains less alcohol (not distilled), but it tastes similar to flavored soda.

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MUK EUN JI
34 W 32nd St
New York, NY 10001

Hell’s Chicken

My wife and I were recently invited here for a press meal.

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This place is located just above the new Hudson Yards construction area on the west side. It’s a prime spot for the soon-to-be-bustling area. In any case, Hell’s Chicken serves up some tasty Korean style fried chicken!

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The batter was nice and crispy, and one of the sauces, the soy ginger, was really delicious. Even the drum sticks were adequately battered and sauced, so that the ratio between meat and batter was in the proper proportion.

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We also tried the “spicy hell” sauce, which is tomato based and gluten free. It did not deliver the kind of heat that one might expect from such eloquent naming. I thought I’d be shitting molten lava afterward, but that won’t be the case (thankfully). In any event, don’t be afraid! A good, welcoming heat creeps up a few seconds after your taste buds get to work, and the end result is pretty addictive.

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That’s cashew powder sprinkled on top, by the way: a very interesting touch.

Not only does this place do fried chicken, but they also serve up some traditional Korean dishes as well. We tried three courses. This first bite was a shrimp and veggie roll wrapped in pickled daikon.

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It was nice and refreshing, with a hit of sweet pickled goodness from the daikon.

Then we sank our teeth into this kimchi pancake, made with eggs, flour and pickled cabbage. It was crispy but had a nice dense, substantive texture to it from the kimchi inside. This might have been my favorite dish of the night.

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Next up was this platter of bork belly and lightly dressed greens. The belly was sliced thick and grilled with simple spices and sesame seeds. We dipped the pork in spicy bean paste. Awesome. I could eat this every day.

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This came out with some spicy pickled kimchi items as well. Shishito peppers, bean sprouts and cabbage. All were pickled in-house.

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I should also mention that this joint offers a pretty good happy hour deal from 4pm to 7pm, with $5 beers, wine deals and discounted well drinks.

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But check out this trio sampler of infused soju: yuzu, pomegranate and blueberry. All were on the sweet side, as opposed to dry. The pomegranate was the best, and most naturally pleasant tasting of the three. I like the old style presentation too, with the small jars. This will run you $18, for what is essentially about 12-15oz of soju. I thought that was a good deal.

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To sum up, this is a great place to satisfy for your Korean fried chicken cravings. The traditional dishes are pretty great too. A guy who sat next to us ordered the bibimbap, and I must say it looked, smelled and even SOUNDED delicious when it came out in the hot clay bowl. That’ll be my next meal here.

HELL’S CHICKEN
641 10th Ave.
New York, NY 10036