Friday, January 25, 2008

Ask A Korean! News: Korea in New York

New York Times has an article on how to enjoy Korean food and culture in New York. It's by and large helpful if you know nothing about Korean things in New York.

The Korean's own opinion is that no Korean food is worth eating in Manhattan. Generally, only young Koreans, either students or recent graduates, live on Manhattan. Therefore, the Korean food on Manhattan caters to that group. There is no Korean food that takes effort to make - only barbecues, hot soups, snacks, and things you eat while you drink alcohol. Most of them are laced with MSG because again, young people don't know enough to make out the difference.

Worse, some Korean restaurant take the guise of some chic fusion restaurant that lures dumb white people into paying $60 for a meal that should not cost more than $10. The Korean cannot possibly despise those restaurants (and their patrons) more. On the other hand, Flushing, N.Y. and Palisades Park, N.J. are more amenable to those who want to get something more authentic.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. Agree with your post, disagree with "young people don't know enough to make out the difference." I still fit in your rubric of "recent graduates" and even when I was still a student, I "knew enough to make out the difference" between food that was properly prepared from scratch and food that was slapped together with frozen ingredients and chemical seasonings, Korean or otherwise. Most of my friends do, too, and have since they were younger. Please avoid the condescending generalizations.

    Couldn't agree with you more on "Asian fusion"--those words are generally a red flag, as is the ever popular "Pan-Asian cuisine: We serve Thai, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese!" on restaurant awnings.

  2. Harsh! Sure, most of the Korean food in Manhattan pales in comparison to that found in Flushing but there are a couple gems, most notably Gammiok for their sullungtang. And you're right about the overpriced chic Korean places that serve awful food but on the other hand there are places like David Chang's Momofuku Ssam bar which serve reasonably priced and absolutely delicious food with a Korean flair.

  3. Cat,

    without condescending generalizations, how will the Korean show that he is superior to everyone? But your point is dead-on for "Pan-Asian cuisine". What kind of person would ever step into a restaurant that says "We serve French, Italian, British, and Hungarian food!"


    You just proved the Korean's point about people not knowing what is what. True sullungtang requires boiling cow's leg for more than 8 hours in order to get the white broth out. This is not commercially profitable, because it takes too long and there are only four cow's leg per cattle.

    So Gammiok uses the same trick that cheap sullungtang places use in Korea. They use a regular beef broth and add a secret ingredient to mimic the whiteness/creaminess of the broth. Guess what the secret ingredient is?

    Answer: Coffee creamer. Disgusting, right? Next time you eat there, try and detect it. It's unmistakable. It's a fake milk taste, slightly sweet. The creaminess does not blend in with the broth, but has a feeling of floating on its own. But the restaurant is always crowded with people. On top of that, Gammiok's kimchi is so sweet the Korean doesn't even touch it.

    And don't even get the Korean started on David Chang. He is the king of duping dumb white people to pay $30 for the food that should not cost more than $10.

  4. LOL, well I know that my parents eat at Gammiok multiple times whenever they come to visit and I know many other Koreans who enjoy it as well. All of whom are not young Korean students from Manhattan. Nevertheless, we're all entitled to our own opinions but I think your irrational demands that everything be completely "authentic" are misguided. However, I must admit, if they really do use coffee creamer, that is pretty gross.

  5. Come back to So Cal! The Korean food is so much better here, as I'm sure you already know. My parents live in Palisades Park and even though I appreciate the choices all contained neatly on Broad, it still doesn't compare to good ol' Koreatown (or even Gardena for that matter). :D


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