This past Monday my mother and I ventured out of the comfortable confines of Chinese food for something vastly different: Korean cuisine. For those of you who think I am just being my typical sacrcastic self, I'm not. Korean food is to Chinese food what non-Jewish whites are to the Ashkenazi Jews (KF:CF = NJW :AJ) - sure, we all look alike, but what we eat is like night and day. That's why Hans Tang was so concerned, and kept asking Elaine "Do you know what to order???" to which she would reply, annoyed, "Don't worry! I know how to order! Do I have to tell you that story about how all my friends make me order again?" That shut him up (see photo below).
Our restaurant consultant suggested we go to Don's Bogam, on 32nd between 5th and Madison.
I was impressed by the exterior view, especially since it showcased an unabashedly fabulous pink Christmas tree. I wasn't ready for the holidays - until I saw this pink tree!
Look at this shiny smoke-sucking machine for the bbq! FABULOUS! And the wine bottles all lined up in a row. Double FABULOUS!
This is when Hans Tang was vexed because we weren't Korean. But do you see how studious Elaine is being? She even put on her reading glasses, determined to make the right selections.
A sea of appetizers
I think the best thing about K-food is the overflowing abundance of little appetizers they shower upon you right when you sit down. These are fish cakes, and in the background is dried baby shrimps. Other highlights were the egg custard, the kimchi (of course), the bean sprouts, and the pickled turnips.
One of my favorite Korean appetizers (that you have to order). Though they put some kind of vegetable or seasoning in these that added a flavor I did not like, I still enjoyed the pancakes.
This dish was perfect. Plenty of meat on the crabs, fried to perfection, and sauteed in a gooey, savory sauce that actually made the softshelled crabs MOIST! Aye Carumba!
Softshell crab in the center, kimchi and seafood pankcake in the background. This is what Art is to me.
And also this - there's nothing quite like raw beef all lined up on the K-barbie. They're so freaking cute, all raw and pink and sizzling. Ss Sss Ssassy!!
Out waiter masterfully tended to the beef.
When I lived in Argentina I used to tell the waiters to cook my steak casi crudoso, and not to bother bringing it out unless I could still see the sangre. I didn't have to tell this K-dude that - he could probably see it in my eyes. We had four or five different kinds of beef, and each one was juicier and more tender than the one before. I could barely believe our good fortune.
A bouquet of yummy.
You take the beef, you dress it with sauce, scallions and rice, and then you wrap it in lettuce. And if you are Raymond Park, you stuff something three times this size in your mouth all at once because "that's how it's supposed to be done!" He's Korean, so I believe him.
I'm not sure I've ever seen this much wine in an Asian restaurant.
So the whole experience, from the decor to the food to the service, was really excellent. A+! All together the bill came to only $75 (for four). Plus we had enough leftovers for both Hans Tang and me to have lunch the next day.
After dinner (my second one of the night), I made everyone go to PINKBERRY (on 32nd between 5th and 6th) for dessert. Ray had brought me here back in October, and I've been dying to come back since. It's very big in L.A., but this is the only one in New York.
Pinkberry is frozen yogurt that actually tastes like yogurt that has been frozen. It comes in original and green tea, and for toppings you can choose between different fresh fruits (not swimming in disgusting sugar water, mind you), cereals (fruitie pebbles and cocoa crisps, for example), and other more traditional options. A small is $2.95, and each topping is $.95.
An Asian Mecca - look at all those cute Korean girls in their black coats.
My order - Pomeberry.
I have to brag for a second about my choice of topping here. The tart and crunchy pomegranates complemented the smooth, slightly sweet yogurt delightfully. Plus it was absolutely gorgeous.
This is the kind of weird decorative stuff that was just hanging out on the shelves. So freaking Asian.
The funny thing is that after I was done taking a bazillion photos inside the store, my mom brought to my attention the sign that had a big camera inside a circle with a slash through it. I thought of taking a picture of it, but I didn't want to be offensive.
So I have got to say that K-town has really gotten it's shit together. It's undeniably hip and delicious these days, and the overall quality of things is higher than average. For covering only a few measly blocks in the armpit of the city, it sure is worth visiting.