Saturday evening in Koreatown: so many places to eat and drink! My colleague and I headed over to the bustling block on 32nd Street on a recent Saturday night to find out where revelers were going.
With so many spots so close to each other, each known for its own specialties, it’s easy to hit several spots in the course of one evening.
Tea and Farewells
Who: A group of 4 friends.
Special Occasion: Kim is leaving for Korea; another friend (not pictured) is off to medical school.
1. Early dinner at HanGawi, an upscale vegetarian restaurant where diners take off their shoes and are seated at the restaurant’s low tables. The report back: The crispy mushrooms, stuffed eggplant, and hot pots come highly recommended. (12 E. 32nd. St.)
2. Next is a stopover at French-Asian bakery Tous Les Jours for a sweet icy treat. Their recommendation: green tea shaved ice cream. (31 W. 32nd St.)
3. Parting glass: a calm evening drink at Gong Cha, with flavors such as Earl Grey milk tea. (12 W. 32nd St.)
Barbecue, Drinks, and Karaoke
Who: Miriam Tai and 15 friends.
Special Occasion: Tai’s birthday. Tai, who is from Hong Kong, admits to eating Korean food more often than Chinese.
1. The party starts with drinks at Soju Haus with “baekseju” (a Korean rice wine made with corn, rice, and herbs), Kirin frozen beer, and some Seaweed Rice Balls. (315 Fifth Ave. at 32nd Street.)
2. Barbecue at Jongro BBQ, a popular Korean chain. Seafood pancakes, pork belly, and short ribs get ordered. Tai’s friend, Jean Lee, shows to eat these by making “ssam” (literally, “wrapped”). Pick your meat, wrap in lettuce, and top with kimchi or any of the sauces on hand. (22 W. 32nd St.)
3. What’s K-Town without karaoke? The group heads to nearby Chorus Karaoke, which has private rooms and serves “anju” (small plates) to go with drinks. The group opts for something simple: a fresh and healthy fruit platter cleanses the palate after all the eating. (25. W. 32nd St.)
4. The group heads a few short blocks north for cocktails at Rooftop Refinery, atop the Refinery Hotel. If you’re going to be out on a hot and humid night, you might as well make sure it’s among the cosmopolitan set and with spectacular views of Manhattan. (63 W. 38th St.)
Who: John, family and friends.
Special occasion: The wife’s birthday.
1. OK, so, you don’t have to smell like barbecue after a night out in K-Town. This group favors the precooked barbecue Five Senses for that reason. (9 W. 32nd St.)
2. Karaoke! Time to drop in Maru Karaoke Lounge for a round of drinks and sing your heart out. Like many other K-Town karaoke spots, Maru has private rooms. (11 W. 32nd St.)
3. No need to go very far to cap off the night. Right across from Maru is Cloud Social Rooftop Bar, where the group wraps up the night. (6 W. 32nd St.)
Who: Claudia and friends.
Special Occasion: Just hanging out.
1. The group starts out the evening at Pocha 32 with hot pot and Watermelon Soju. The popular Korean drink, distilled from rice and barley is served in—what else?—a hollowed out, halved watermelon. (15 W. 32nd St. No. 2)
2. Koreatown is full of dessert spots but they hightail it to Bryant Park to satisfy their sweet tooth. Dessert awaits at Lady M Cake Boutique for some delicious crepes. (36 W. 40th St.)