There are a number of options for enjoying delicious Korean food in New York City. Whether you're looking for barbecue or bibimbap, here are the best restaurants in Manhattan serving the cuisine.
What It Is: A NoMad hotspot by husband-and-wife team Junghyun and Ellia Park with an emphasis on family-style dishes.
What Our Inspectors Say: "Here you may find braised eggplant with snow crab and tomato; or fried chicken brined in pineapple juice, coated in tempura batter and served with a ginger-peanut butter sauce. Close out with a refreshing sujeonggwa granité mingling yogurt, sour cream, honey and walnut slivers."
What It Is: "For a change of pace in bustling Koreatown, Cho Dang Gol offers the barbecue-weary an opportunity to explore some of this nation's more rustic cooking."
What Our Inspectors Say: "The menu also offers favorites like flaky pajeon, satisfying bibimbap and marinated meats. A sautéed tofu trio with pork belly is stir-fried with glassy sweet potato noodles and kimchi, in an excellent sweet and spicy red pepper sauce."
What It Is: Per inspectors, "This Korean steakhouse is a high-minded tribute to owner Simon Kim’s home country, and its renowned love for great beef."
What Our Inspectors Say: "A pedestrian-sounding kimchi stew is elevated with sophisticated anchovy consommé, potatoes and zucchini; and the marbling on their aged ribeye, cut into cubes for tabletop searing, looks like something Michelangelo may have sculpted. Match this with grilled mushrooms and galbi for a true feast."
What It Is: Chef Hooni Kim's festive and bustling hot spot in Hell's Kitchen.
What Our Inspectors Say: "Blocks of soft tofu are quickly deep-fried and boldly dressed with gochujang and a ginger-scallion vinaigrette. Poached daikon rings accompanied by bok choy are glazed with a dark and spicy sauce and stacked high for dramatic presentation. Vegetarian highlights include spicy, crispy dumplings filled with tofu, vegetables and cellophane noodles."
What It Is: A Korean barbecue spot in K-town for exceptional grilled meats.
What Our Inspectors Say: "For the ultimate payoff, opt for the memorable beef platter. It features thinly-sliced macun and yangnyeom galbi set beside king trumpet mushrooms that are meaty and mouthwatering in their own right."
What It Is: "A vegetarian shrine in another space and time," per the restaurant's website.
What Our Inspectors Say: "The ssam bap offers a fun DIY experience with a long platter of fillings. Dark leafy lettuce and thin, herbaceous sesame leaves are topped with creamy slices of avocado, crunchy bean sprouts, pickled daikon, carrot, cucumber, radish and three rice options—white, brown and a nutty, purple-tinged multigrain. Topped with miso ssam sauce, each bite is a fresh burst of uplifting textures."
What It Is: A contemporary take on Korean cuisine that is open for both lunch and dinner.
What Our Inspectors Say: "The signature house-made tofu is unmissable: these chilled scoops of soybean curd are a toasty shade of brown, sprinkled with slivered green onion, sesame seeds, and accompanied by soy sauce and perilla vinaigrette."
What It Is: "Cool, chic, and completely urbane, Jungsik is the epitome of contemporary elegance," state inspectors.
What Our Inspectors Say: "The modern cuisine is confident, complex and happens to be leaning much more toward Europe than Korea of late. No matter—the cooking remains profoundly enjoyable. At the same time, the most inspired dishes are the ones that retain their heritage. Prime examples include the delicate mandoo filled with foie gras, draped in Wagyu beef, and set in a soulful Wagyu broth. Tuna kimbap may look like a cigar, but it is a crispy treat filled with black truffle rice, tuna and Korean mustard. Oh, and the octopus braised in dashi could very well be the best you've ever had."
What It Is: A 24-hour hotspot located in the heart of K-Town.
What Our Inspectors Say: "The first floor offers the most robust menu; the second floor is more intimate, with zen-like private dining rooms and a set menu featuring Imperial cuisine. Each floor is packed with blonde wooden tables fixed with grills. However, make sure to go for the outstanding clay pot galbi highlighting tender USDA Prime beef short ribs marinated on the bone for 24 hours, then cut tableside and grilled to heavenly perfection on the spot."
What It Is: "The modest space is spread over two floors and is mighty popular for barbecue-seeking groups."
What Our Inspectors Say: "These grills still use charcoal only, adding to the overall lure, though it's hands-on only during dinner. No matter the time, one can expect to find hordes of diners huddling around platters of marinated beef short ribs (kalbi) or thinly sliced pork belly (samgyupsal)."
What It Is: "Oiji's modern take on Korean dining is a reminder that this food is so much more than barbecue."
What Our Inspectors Say: "Devoid of smoky tabletops, the dining room is small and attractive, with an open kitchen to sneak peeks at the very talented chefs as they prepare a cuisine rooted in culinary tradition, but with creative and refined touches."
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What It Is: Junghyun and Ellia Park's older, sophisticated sibling to their darling Atoboy.
What Our Inspectors Say: "Everything manages to be high-end but also cool and youthful. The night's meal is communicated to the diner via custom-designed cards that explain each course and underline key ingredients and techniques. Look out for their house-pressed oils, Korean soy sauce and rice polished in-house."
What It Is: Douglas Kim's ramyum bar named after the South Korean island that's renowned for its high quality pork.
What Our Inspectors Say: "Pick your perch at one of the generously spaced tables, or (preferably) at the engaging counter where you can watch each dish come together. If that doesn't have your taste buds tingling, the kitchen's concise number of unique items at a steal of a price will hit the spot."
What It Is: Opened in Seoul in 1976, this is the first outpost in the United States.
What Our Inspectors Say: "As expected, it’s known for its barbecue (that signature galbi, with its tenderness and perfect blend of salt and sweet, is a can’t-miss). However, appetizers here are also a hit. Try the fried skate wings in a homemade Buffalo sauce with a distinct kick, or tuck in to the fluffy goodness of an egg and mushroom soufflé, rising up on a black cauldron."
What It Is: Daniel and Hanjan alum Soogil Lim's eponymous eatery in the East Village.
What Our Inspectors Say: "Sharing is the way to go here, where the menu is categorized by Garden, Sea and Land with a handful of options in each. Hungry diners could easily order the entire menu especially if accompanied by friends, but make sure to hone in on such delights as the crispy sweet potato beignets, crisped pork belly and the perfectly seasoned Spanish mackerel-all of which show off creativity, skill and ingredient quality."
Hero image courtesy of Diane Kang/Atoboy.