Essential restaurants: Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, Muk Eun Ji, Shilla, Her Name Is Han
Korean food, particularly KBBQ, has never been more popular in New York. Flushing is home to some of the very best (are you sensing a trend here?), but Manhattan’s Koreatown is still its own distinct (however small) dining destination. The heart of the area is the very tiny strip of W 32nd between Broadway and 5th Ave, where you’ll find places like Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, the exceedingly popular South Korean mini-chain that started in Flushing and has another location in LA (and was, until recently, helmed by Momofuku vet chef Deuki Hong). The rest of the strip is mostly made up of no-frills 24-hour spots, like Muk Eun Ji, which is known for its kimchee, and Shilla, which touts some of the best pork belly in the city. For more modern Korean fare, there’s Her Name Is Han, just around the corner. Of course, the very best time to eat in the neighborhood is post-karaoke, preferably around 2 or 3am. (Late-night spot Pocha 32 is great for this.) Though dense with dining places, Koreatown loses points for being so small, and for lacking the swath of excellent Korean supermarkets and (like Manhattan’s Chinatown) the greater diversity that Flushing offers.