But that’s where the excitement ends, I’m afraid, because the fired chicken sammy that everyone raves about is not all that, nor is it a bucket of chicken, because it’s SO thin you can almost floss with it! Not an exaggeration, sadly. To quote one reviewer on Yelp, “they must use very skinny chickens.” Truer words were never spoken. Fortunately the flavor and heat are good, but let’s face it, you’re basically eating a breading sandwich.
25 W 32nd St. New York, NY 10001 • (212) 967-8093 • bbqktownnyc.com
Welcome to the Korean Pret of fried chicken. A confusing, and yet surprisingly accurate description made only more confusing by the name, because there’s very little barbecue to speak of. That said, there is chicken in virtually every imaginable sauce you could want, fried, jerk, barbecue (naturally), grilled, thai, coconut, general tso, sesame, honey, spicy. It’s like Forrest Gump talking about shrimp. All pre-made for a quick grab-n-go mission (hence my Pret comparison) or there is a pretty extensive amount of seating if you want to sit and take in the rather nonexistent decor. It’s also very reasonably priced by Manhattan standards, making it one of the only options for lunch in the area under $20.
But here’s the thing, the bowls are all pretty damn yummy. Some served up with rice and potatoes. Others with rice and veggies like their bibimbap. And some are just piled high with poultry. But all of them are surprisingly good. They have other things as well, but chicken is clearly their bailiwick. Oh, and best of all, they have beer! Take that Pret!
34 E 32nd St. New York, NY 10016 • (212) 448-1302 • rosehillrestaurant.com
I know this place is still green, so I will try to muster up a modicum of understanding while they get their footing. And boy do they need it. Starting with the layout of the dining room, which is a bit odd to say the least, situated to the side of a hotel lobby through a current. The room itself is long and narrow and I can only assume it was the coat check or storage once upon a time. Making matters worse, the tables are so tightly squeezed together along a booth that runs the entire length of the subway car dining room (pictured), that if you were sitting to the inside, you simply can not get out without displacing every table within a twenty foot radius, so be sure to empty the bladder before getting locked in. Fortunately for us no one was sitting next to us, but if the place had been packed, you’d probably have to go under the table, suffer the sneers of those around you or become very intimate with your new friends at your neighboring table as your genitals rake across the port side of their mesa.
The thing you will be sure to notice is that the staff comes off like a family of beaten children. All of them are so incredibly timid that the plates are shaking in their hands as they walk one overly cautious step at a time to and from your table. In fact, they were shaking so much one of our servers accidentally got some wine in my friend’s water glass while trying to pour in the wine glass! Fortunately she apologized and replaced it immediately, and truth be told I honestly felt worse for her than us because I can assume this only meant more beatings.
The wine itself though, was excellent. The 2015 Hosmer Dry Reisling from the Finger Lakes. Highly recommend.
But back to the beaten staff. Did I mention that even their voices are a bit shaky and they talk so softly you might think you were in a library?
So now the question becomes, is it worth it? Beyond the comedic novelty (and rarity) of seeing servers in New York act like this, as opposed to self-important, rude assholes. Well, it kinda is. I mean both starters were truly incredible. The first being the wonderful seared foie gras with cherry mostrada and black pepper. Simple and flawless. And second, the octopus was almost every bit as good, jazzed up with merguez, fingerling potatoes and smoked tomato. Again, nothing too crazy, yet crazy good.
Which only made the next course that much more disappointing, because the fall was from such a high. But both the lamb sandwich and the chickpea burger were as timid on the tongue as the servers were with everything else. No goat cheese or fire-roasted red pepper and rosemary aioli could save the lamb, tasting more like goat cheese on bread with some indiscernible meat. And the veggie burger was even blander still, the tzatziki and cucumber fading into the white noise of whole wheat and bland bean.
And so now I was really torn. The starters were a five. The entrees were a two. And the service and décor are teetering between a one and a two. Thus, dessert had to be the tie-breaker!
Well, it broke. The chef’s restraint on the appetizers fully escaped him on the deconstructed Key lime pie. It was so tricked-out that it tasted more like an experiment than it did Key lime. Rendering the final blow to Rose Hill and landing it a mere two knives. That said, I am feeling a rare streak of compassion for some reason. Maybe it’s the poor, beaten souls I feel sorry for. Or that the starters were just that damn good. Nonetheless, give them a chance. I think they will get there.
5W 32nd St. New York, NY 10001 • (212) 967-1900 • bcdtofu.com
I have no idea what the BCD stands for, maybe it’s Bargain Cuisine Delectables? Probably not, but whatever it is, ya still gotta love Koreatown for its bountiful spreads of food at a fraction of the price you’d pay anywhere else in Manhattan. It’s almost as if they don’t realize that there are sandwich shops all around them that are charging more for a tuna on rye- no chips, no drink- than the three course bento-paloozas the Koreans are doling out. So shhhh! Let’s keep it that way.
But cheap is only one reason to love the Tofu House. Good is the other. Especially in the winter with a bevy of fiery soups that manage to stay hot longer than Madonna. Offered in a range of spiciness from mild to medium to hot and finally very hot. I went with just “hot” and I found it to be perfect. Plenty of kick, but just up to that threshold where flavor ends and pain begins, without crossing it. Very hot would’ve probably rendered all of the goodies in the soup imperceptible to taste.
As for the goodies of which I speak, I opted for the dumpling soup, which as one might guess is loaded with dumplings. But also bulgogi, veggies, tofu (after all, the place is called Tofu House), and if you so desire, a raw egg, rice, peppers and kimchi. Plus a fried smelt on the side.
And speaking of dumplings, another worthy get as an appetizer are the fried veggie pot stickers.
Service is very friendly and attentive and the décor is rather basic. Not the point of this place though really. The soup here is the focus. So if you’re cold and looking for a bowl to warm you up, this should do the trick, even if you’re a White Walker.
17 E 31st St. New York, NY 10016 • (212) 779-9990 • hernameishan.com
Even though his name is Ferocious, I was pretty much set on at least three knives before I even had my first bite. Starting with the name alone, it’s just friggin’ cool and somehow already tells you that you’re not in for you’re typical Korean culinary experience. Then, once you enter, the setting manages to keep carrying that baton, done in a rustic-chic that sort of bridges the gap between a Le Pain Quotidien and ABC Kitchen. And as I write that I’m realizing that’s quite the chasm, but go and you’ll understand.
Also, once you get a looksy at the menu, I think you’ll come to the same conclusion as I did, you just instantly have to like the place. I mean everything looks good, so I threw a dart and partook in the spicy raw tuna bowl, which is essentially a nice twist on a bi bim bap, made with sashimi grade tuna, brown rice, poached egg, avocado, carrots, peppers, green onions and spicy sauce. Not only is it good. It’s good for you. And it’s good for your wallet, being that’ll probably set you back less than a sandwich and drink at Pret!
Looking forward to going back soon. But on the earlier side, because they don’t take reservations and they do make you wait.
10 W 32nd St. (3rd Fl) New York, NY 10001 • (212) 594-4963 • misskoreabbq.com
This was my second foray into the culinary world that is Korean BBQ. The first being more than 7 years ago, which would imply that I didn’t like it, but that’s actually not the case at all. I enjoyed it a great deal. Both times. Just not SO incredible that I had to rush back, apparently. That said, I would definitely go back to Miss Korea, hopefully sooner than another 7 years.
The decor is clean and contemporary, right down to the sleek metal chopsticks, which are cool, but a bitch to use, and I’m pretty good with chopsticks. There is one oddity however, in the form of a flat screen smack dab in the middle of the dining room, playing Korean TV. Which started off distracting, but ended up mesmerizing.
Service was friendly and attentive, but perhaps that’s because we were with someone who spoke fluent Korean. Prices are very reasonable, or at least for lunch they are.
As for the food, the star of the meal for me, by far, was the squid with noodles. If I was rating that dish alone, I’d probably go 4 knives. The BBQ was good too, but there were a few too many missed notes- for example, multiple bones in my pork belly and I also wished the kimchi had more kick in its chi.
And last but not least, one other little plus- they are right next to Paris Baguette, a French/Korea bakery that is AWESOME for dessert.
11 West 31 St. New York, NY 10001http://www.ayzanyc.com•
This place actually IS something to sneeze at. And what’s so shocking to me is that it was actually doing quite a bit of business. Now I can only assume that most of it was spill over from the adjacent hotel and thus filled with tourists who don’t know any better, or at least thinking that makes me feel better, because if this is actually being kept open by the business of my fellow New Yorkers, I find that a bit depressing.
First of all, the décor is nothing special and pretty much what you’d expect from a hotel wine bar, granted being able to sit outside after the winter we just had shouldn’t be taken for granted I suppose.
As for service, it was fine, but the food was afflicted with a horrible case of mediocrity. The angry chicken lollipops, for example, were far from angry. In fact, the only thing angry about them was me for ordering them. We’re talking zero spice. False advertising alert!
The other big miss was the truffle pizza that tasted like the frozen soggy crap you’d buy out of a vending machine at a bus station in the middle of the night while traveling cross-county through South Dakota.
There was one dish that managed to rise above, however. It was the prosciutto, manchego and fig tartine. Now, I’m not entirely certain that it was actually good or if it just stood out amidst the comparative losers, but either way, suffice it to say that this is not the place you want at that top of your wishlist.