For the yet-to-be converted, Korean barbecue can seem like utter chaos—a frenzy of pounding K-pop hits and smoke-spewing tableside grills always an inch or two away from firing up a lawsuit.
Upon first glance, the Manhattan outpost of the immensely popular namesake chainlet from larger-than-life Korean personality Kang Ho Dong, a professional wrestler turned comedian and MC, looks like more of the riotous same. As with its Flushing and Los Angeles siblings, crude cartoon portraits of its proprietor color the 150-seat Koreatown space, baseball-capped servers bellow greetings when diners enter, and when there’s a birthday (and there’s always a birthday), the lights suddenly go low and “Gangnam Style” goes loud.
It’s chaotic, sure, but it’s calculated chaos. Before you can even take in the raucous trappings, you’re ushered by headset-sporting hostesses to your table, where your coat’s promptly tucked into a compartment beneath your seat cushion as a mosaic of metal banchan bowls (cloud-soft slabs of tofu in chili-sesame sauce, pickled daikon radish spritzed with yuzu and beet juices) is instantly splayed across the tabletop.
Those freebies are the first clue that this is not your garden-variety KBBQ haunt. Despite the noise and crowd (a one-hour wait is a given, FYI), the cooking speaks of a quiet refinement courtesy of young-gun chef Deuki Hong, who previously put in kitchen time at Jean Georges and Momofuku.
Hong employs steakhouse-style quality control, wet-aging his Omaha beef for three weeks before the well-trained servers showcase the carne in escalating degrees of flavor and heft: Thin ruby-red sheets of brisket ($28), grilled until the edges are caramelized and craggly enough to catch droplets of soy-and-apple-vinegar sauce, are followed by gorgeously tender nubs of short rib ($39), needing only a whisper of sea salt.
Too-fatty pork jowl ($28) is better in theory than reality, but even the act alone of putting pork jowl on a Korean-barbecue menu is enough to make Hong one to watch.
|Venue name:||Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong||Contact:|
1 E 32nd St
|Cross street:||at Fifth Ave|
|Opening hours:||Mon–Thu, Sun 11:30am–2am; Fri, Sat 11:30am–6am|
|Transport:||Subway: 6 to 33rd St (Park Ave South); B, D, F, M, N, Q, R to 34th St–Herald Sq|
|Price:||Average main course: $35. AmEx, MC, V|
|Do you own this business?|
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Average User Rating
4.3 / 5
- 5 star:3
- 4 star:2
- 3 star:1
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:0
I love this place! Hands down one of the best KBBQ experiences I've had. The staff is great and the food is awesome. Definitely get a good healthy portion of food but make sure to come with a group so that you can share and mix up the meats and the options. We got a few combo dishes so got to try a bit of everything. The place was busy but they are experts at guiding you through the experience. The staff was there and really oversaw all the cooking - not much for you to have to pay attention to or do. We were in the midst of great laughter and conversation and the team really took on the initiative and cooked the meat and kept bringing us out more.
What does it take for a KBBQ joint to not get drown amongst the ocean that is NYC?Could it be that a plethora of subjective Asian A-listers that dine at the eatery? Could it be that people come here in droves and are actually willing to wait? (Actually, this is one of the few Korean joints you should wait for.)
You're not going be getting a bargain for meats – price compared to other KBBQ place is the relatively the same ( apologies to the penny pinchers).
What annoys me is that KBBQ places tend to not account for table retail space – when the grill + side dishes take up 99.99% of the table, coercing you to play Tetris with whatever is left.
This place is worth the extra spend because they do it right: quality meats, tasty banchan, and their smokeless barbecue setup really works--you don't smell like a campfire when you leave!