Unlike its Deep South counterpart, the best BBQ at Korean restaurants requires diners to season and cook their own meats before eating. The fun, shareable nature of this tradition—which usually comes with boozy soju (distilled rice liquor)—has made it a popular group dining affair. From a swanky spot on the 39th floor of a Koreatown skyscraper to a 24/7 Flushing, Queens standby, this is the best Korean BBQ NYC has to offer.
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Korean BBQ in NYC
On first glance, the Manhattan outpost of the popular namesake chainlet from larger-than-life Korean personality Kang Ho Dong, professional wrestler turned comedian, looks like utter chaos. Despite the noise and crowd, the cooking speaks of a quiet refinement courtesy of young-gun chef Deuki Hong (Jean Georges, Momofuku) who employs steakhouse-style quality control, wet-aging his Omaha beef for three weeks before servers showcase the carne in escalating degrees of flavor and heft.
This sleek Flatiron District den from Simon Kim of Michelin-starred Piora sits just 10 blocks south of K-Town proper. Billed as a “Korean steakhouse,” Cote is decked out with a marble-topped bar and large horseshoe booths, reminiscent more of all-American meat temples than bulgogi grills, but the kitchen tricks out steakhouse staples like shrimp cocktail with gochujang-spiked tartar sauce and studs the steak tartare with cubes of Asian pear. However, it's the elaborate Butcher’s Feast —a flashy spread of seasonal banchan, two stews (a pleasantly sour kimchi variety and a fermented soy potage bobbing with tofu) and a daily-changing rotation of four steaks fired on gold-rimmed table grills — that really steals the spotlight.
Located on the 39th floor of a Koreatown tower, this sleek eatery offers some amazing sights of a twinkling skyline through its wraparound windows. But the cooking, it turns out, is spectacular, too. The kitchen—run by Tae Goo Kang, a Korean who’s cooked Japanese at Nobu 57 and French at the Modern—highlights grade-A ingredients and upscale presentations. Tabletop barbecue is the focus, with an unusually large roster of proteins including thick duck breast pieces, jumbo white shrimp, tender boneless short ribs (galbi) and pork belly.
Fire up the grill anytime — 24 hours a day, year-round — at this barbecue and wine bar hybrid. Each table is outfitted with barbecue burner, and servers will not only help you navigate the menu but show you how to cook at the table. The signature dish, three-layer pork, is a must-try — the meat has been marinated for 24 hours in wine. But plenty of other Korean chicken, beef and seafood options are available, too, each paired with dipping sauces and side dishes.
In a former warehouse space in industrial Gowanus, Insa offers a modern take on Korean BBQ, as reinterpreted by Seoul-born chef Sohui Kim. Complimentary banchan appetizers (daikon kimchi, steamed egg custard) hit the table first, followed by standout mains like a sweet-and-salty galbijjim stew and marinated yangnyeom galbi (beef short rib), which you should elect to cook yourself. The extensive cocktail menu offers a booze-addled primer into Korean ’cue: Sip the rum-heavy island drinks whispered with Far East flavors, such as the house mai tai spritzed with vanilla-bean–infused mescal, which is also available in a large-format punch bowl to share among friends.
Just three blocks north of Koreatown’s central 32nd Street stretch, this restaurant serves excellent barbecue and other traditional dishes. Servers help set the pace for the meal here by tending to the tabletop grilling for you. The food arrives almost instantly, though — so finish your dumplings and appetizers before asking them to fire up those decadent chunks of rib eye and fatty slices of pork belly.
You'll have to poke around a bit before finding the stairs leading to this second-floor, bamboo-fitted restaurant tucked in an inconspicuous building. The search is well worth it, once you've started ordering the brothy noodles, tableside barbecue and other well-executed Korean touchstones (pancakes, bibimbap rice bowls).
It’s no surprise to find homestyle fare with Pan-Asian flair here — executive chef Myung Ja Kwak opened Dok Suni’s and helped ignite a nouveau-Korean trend. Classic dishes continue to please, whether or not you’ve cooked them yourself (some tables have built-in barbecues). The remainder of the menu —emblazoned with movie posters as a shout-out to co-owner Quentin Tarantino — shines thanks to duk boki, sticky-rice cakes sautéed with vegetables in a red-pepper sauce.
Come to this Koreatown stalwart with a hearty appetite. Complimentary banchan—small plates like steamed eggs and kimchi—hit the table as soon as you're seated and the traditional Korean fare keeps coming: bubbling tofu stew, variations of bibimbap, and plenty of meats for your grill-it-yourself BBQ. Once you've had your fill, a second freebie arrives with the check: a piping-hot cup of cinnamon tea.
This Korean BBQ in K-town comes straight from a long-time Seoul restaurant. The stalwart has been open in Korea since 1976 and uses old-school family recipes.
Venue says Experience one of South Korea's best traditional Korean BBQ's at Samwon Garden BBQ! Reserve now, 212-695-3131!