Gaonurri

1250 Broadway – 39th Fl. New York, NY 10001 • (212) 971-9045gaonnurinyc.com

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As they say in Korea, “holy fucking shit is this place good.” Okay, so it’s a very loose translation, but the meaning is still the same. From setting to service to sumptuous this place is firing on all cylinders. And not only is it physically head and shoulders above the rest of Koreatown, it’s figuratively superior as well.

Oddly located atop an office building in Herald Square, you have to enter through the lobby and take the elevator to the 39th floor. And it is there that you will find yourself surrounded by stunning views of Manhattan and a décor that lives up to the view.

The food also lives up to the hype starting with the spicy fried calamari salad tossed in a honey gochujang sauce and served over mixed greens with a light pear dressing. It’s fantastic, but even better is the Japchae with mushrooms. It’s made with stir fried glass noodles and mushrooms, of course. But these aren’t your garden variety shrooms. Well, technically I guess they are, but there is something about the sauce they’re cooked in that makes them taste almost like velvety, silky, beefy medallions. Best thing of the night and the most enjoyment you can get from mushrooms without them being of the psychedelic variety. An Ultimate fo sho!

Both the braised black cod and the braised short rib are also wicked good, served with a bowl of rice along with an assortment of kimchi and things.

And finally, for dessert, we split the deconstructed Snickers bar because we weren’t going anywhere for a while- get it? It’s advertising humor. Okay, never mind. Jokes aside it was very inventive, airy and fun to eat, because depending on how you reconstructed it you could make it taste like seven different candy bars. But with just the right ratios of each, bingo! Snickers baby!

Mad props to Gaonurri for living up to the hype and exceeding it with the best Korean food I’ve ever had by far.

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Dundu

http://www.dundukitchen.com • 914-930-7470

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African cuisine is pretty thin on my blog, but to be fair, it’s kinda thin in the United States in general. In fact, even in a city as culturally diverse as New York, there’s no Little Africa like there is a Little Italy, Chinatown, Little India and Koreatown. But the thing is, African cuisine can be so many things sort of like “American.” For example, food in Morocco or Egypt might be considered more Middle Eastern, where as Ethiopian is almost a thing unto itself. And then there’s the contemporary cuisine of a country like South Africa and the exotic game of places everywhere in between. And finally there’s the almost Jamaican-like fare of West Africa, which is where Dundu comes in.

The dish I went with was the pepper chicken with rice and plantains, served with a cornmeal cake and coleslaw. Now, with the exception of the coleslaw, if I had said this place was in Montego Bay you probably wouldn’t even question it, which poses a very interesting question, why do Jamaica and West Africa have such similar cuisines? Well, you can thank England, because back in the mid-1600’s the British took Jamaica from the Spaniards turning the island into sugar plantations, which were run on slave labor sourced from, you guessed it, Western Africa.

But enough with the history lesson, albeit the most interesting part of this review, and let’s get to the food. The chicken is dry and not all that “peppery.” The rice is dry as well and the plantains aren’t very sweet. Even the cornmeal cake was dry. In fact, the only thing that wasn’t dry was the coleslaw. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, however, I only ate from their stand in Herald Square. Not giving them the benefit of the doubt, there is no restaurant. So it’s either a stand or catering, which means my sampling was at least 50% accurate and enough to know not to use them for catering should I ever decide to go back and get a Bar Mitzvah.

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