11 Great Korean Restaurants In NYC
photo credit: Kate Previte
New York City has many fantastic Korean restaurants, and it seems like a new one opens every day (usually from Hand Hospitality). There are, of course, a lot of solid options in Koreatown, and you’ll also find a near infinite number of worthwhile Korean spots in Murray Hill, Queens. You probably don’t have time to read a list the length of Moby-Dick, so here’s a roundup with a few of our favorites. Some of these spots serve homestyle food, others do prix fixes, and a couple of them are grocery stores that are perfect for when you need to fill your pockets with banchan.
Atoboy is fine dining for people who don’t like fine dining. This Flatiron spot serves a four-course $75 prix fixe in a casual space with scuffed concrete floors, and their food is just as impressive as anything you’ll find at a spot with an overbearing maître d’. The menu changes frequently, but the Korean-inspired dishes are always one of a kind. You might eat some octopus served over a warm sweet potato puree, or you might have snap peas with kimchi and foie gras. Whatever you get, be sure to add on the optional fried chicken course. For an even more deluxe experience, try the $375 tasting menu at sister restaurant Atomix.
If you hadn’t noticed by now, the team behind Atoboy cranks out new Korean restaurants like Disney pumps out Marvel flicks. Unlike Quantumania though, Ariari is totally worth your time. The food at this ‘70s basement-looking spot in the East Village is inspired by Busan (a South Korean port city), so prioritize things from the sea like the DIY scallops handrolls and poached octopus with white kimchi. But you really can’t go wrong. A meal here is like that one birthday when you got every present you wanted. Just when you think the next dish can't get any better than the last, you’re proven wrong.
Nowadays, there are a lot of places (like Atoboy and Ariari) doing innovative things with Korean food. Cho Dang Gol is not one of them. This is a homestyle spot in Koreatown, and it’s where you should go when you need an excellent, unpretentious meal. The sweet, heavily marinated bulgogi is always a good option, but this restaurant makes its own tofu, so that’s where you should start. Their soondubu jjigae isn’t just one of the best versions in NYC—it’s one of the city’s best dishes, period. Scalding hot with a spicy, ultra-concentrated broth, it’s a mandatory order. Despite the fact that the space offers very little in terms of ambience—aside from a few tchotchkes and string lights—there’s usually a wait. Take that as a good sign.
There are roughly two million places in K-Town where you can get yourself some galbi, and Gopchang Story is technically one of them. But you don’t come here for short ribs. You come to eat little tubes of grilled intestine lined with fat that melts in your mouth. A combo platter at this KBBQ spot, which specializes in the intestinal cuts known as gopchang, is one of the most satisfying meals in town, and it’s also the perfect drinking food. Bring a few friends, order some soju, then order some more. The dining room is up a flight of stairs on 5th Avenue, and it’s about as casual as your typical gastropub. There will probably be a short line to get in, but it’s worth it.
This small, cafeteria-like Korean restaurant in Murray Hill, Queens only serves one thing: beef bone soup (spicy or non-spicy) with cellophane noodles and a few accompanying banchan. According to the signage, the soup is simmered for four hours, but it tastes like it’s been cooking all day. Your steaming hot bowl of noodles and broth will arrive around 30 seconds after you place your order, and in the center, you'll find an enormous beef bone lined with meat that falls off as soon as you touch it. The meal also includes rice and sheets of gim. All of this will cost you roughly $17.
Located in Murray Hill, Queens, Hahm Ji Bach has been serving some of the best KBBQ in NYC for over 20 years, although nowadays they have some help from a robot who brings banchan to your table. The diverse (and bottomless) assortment of banchan is one of the main reasons to come here, but you’ll need some barbecue to accompany it. Try the beef sampler, which comes with thick, luxurious galbi in addition to a few leaner cuts. It costs about $100, and it’s big enough to split between three people. Hahm Ji Bach is open 24 hours, so bring a few friends the next time you get hungry at 3am.
Your immediate reaction to the line at this spot on 32nd Street will probably be: “Let’s go somewhere else.” That’s fair—there are tons of great KBBQ options in the area. Since when did you become a person who settles though? Kang Ho, a mini-chain which started in California in 2012, is the best K-Town spot for tabletop grilled meats, so get here early and have somewhere in mind to hang while you wait for a table. Expect loud music, a mostly-drunk crowd, and fantastic charred beef and pork alongside refillable egg custard and cheesy corn cooked in moats around your grill.
Her Name is Han serves the type of Korean comfort food that you want to eat in your needs-to-be-laundered loungewear while a bomb cyclone is happening outside. We like that the rice cakes aren’t drowning in sauce, and the shrimp pancake is uniformly crisp, but the dish that’ll really raise your body temperature a few degrees is the fire engine-red seafood stew with plump pork dumplings. This restaurant is ideal for drinking a lot, and ordering as you go in the space that looks part-tavern (wood beams, deer antlers), and part-movie set (huge spotlights).
Similar to Cho Dang Gol, K’ook isn’t attempting anything fancy. The little East Village space has a homey feel, and if you stop by for a solo meal in your sweats, no one will look at you with disdain. The menu consists of some very decent versions of classics like gimbap, bibimbap, and LA galbi, and you can easily eat here without spending more than $30. Try the crispy fried chicken, and get a side of kimchi to take home. The soondubu jjigae is also fantastic in a comforting sort of way that’ll remind you of when people used to pick you up from soccer practice and make dinner for you.
Little Banchan Shop is to banchan lovers what Graceland is to Elvis fans. It’s a magical place in Long Island City, lined with fridges stocked with pouches of various Korean sides. From dried squid and baby anchovies to spicy fish cakes and world-class potato salad, the selection is overwhelming. Grab a few items, then come back a week later and grab a few more. In addition to banchan, this place sells prepared meals and Korean pantry items, and they also serve a few made-to-order items like bulgogi and fried chicken. If you want to sit down and eat, grab a seat at the tiny counter by the entrance.
Another banchan specialist, Kimchi Kooks is a family-run store in Bay Ridge where you'll find some potted plants, an antique television, and several fridges stuffed with a variety of Korean snacks and side dishes. Swing by to pick up some lotus root jorim, marinated eggs, or fish cakes. There is, of course, kimchi available in several varieties like classic cabbage and tangy kale. We’re partial to the white kimchi, which is light, crisp, and juicy, with just a hint of anchovy. This place also serves a few takeout dishes, prepared in the DIY-looking kitchen right behind the counter. Stop by on the weekend for specials like bibimbap and soondubu jjigae.