Another day, another dinner. Tonight I decided to take my first adventure into New York City’s Korean food scene. In case you didn’t know, when I lived in Virginia I lived in the D.C. area’s unofficially official Koreatown. Basically every restaurant in the city was Korean, or at least Korean-owned, save for a very select few establishments. What up, A&J Restaurant? Oh, how I miss you so…
But anyway, I was always spoiled when it came to Korean food. There’s nothing quite like the lingering stench of Korean BBQ on your clothes after an hour sitting in front of the tabletop grill with friends doing soju shots. Those were the days.
So perhaps to channel some DMV memories, or maybe because there’s parking on that block around that time of the evening, I ventured out to Madangsui on the outskirts of NYC’s Koreatown, hoping to find the food I’ve been missing.
Above is something along the lines of what I wanted to order – the picture is of the Dol Sot Bibimbob ($14.99, rice topped with assorted vegetable and ground beef based stone ware pot served sizzling hot…their words, not mine). One of my favorite Koreatown dishes at home was the Sashimi Bibim from Miso off of Little River Tnpk…and this is the same in concept except with ground beef and white rice instead of raw fish and brown rice, how I like it. This is the more classic style, rather than some Japanese-Korean fusion. But, too bad for me, their vegetables are pre-sauteed with sesame seeds, so I had to change my order since I’m allergic. Wack. I ended up with this instead…
…Ddeok Mandoogook ($11.99, sliced rice cake and dumpling soup), which was a decent alternative. Floating in the broth were large dumplings, strips of seaweed, glass noodles, sliced rice cakes (I’m addicted to dduk, rice cakes, on ANYTHING), and random slices of beef that reminded me a lot of the brisket found in pho. It was filling, but I really can’t see myself ever paying twelve bucks for soup again. You know, because I’m a cheap bastard.
Although I didn’t go for the BBQ, I looked around and could tell it wasn’t quite like home. No army of Korean waitresses sprinting through the restaurant with kitchen scissors, snip-snipping away at thinly cut meats and shoveling it all onto patron’s plates with no regard to who ordered what. No K-pop blasting on the speakers (this restaurant seemed to have a thing for Mariah Carey). Just…not quite what I was looking for. But that being said, it’s a nice looking place, extremely clean, and the food was certainly of a high quality. If you got the money to blow twelve bucks on soup or $20+ on BBQ, go for it.
Nice sidenote: the hosts at the door are extremely friendly. The guy saw me standing in the cold doorway waiting for someone, and graciously invited me in to wait. Even though I declined, it was a nice touch. They also have some good pens, of all things, next to the mints at the door. As a writer (and former hostess) and all, that meant a lot. Thanks.
Things I’d go back and try: Hwe Naeng Myun (vermicelli noodles served with raw fish and spicy sauce, $13.99)
Madangsui, 35 W. 35th St., New York City