Korean BBQ is an experience like none other -- scorching hot grill built into your table, pounds of raw meat cooked right in front of you, a sea of banchan (small plates) of pickled vegetables, kimchi, large leafs of lettuce to wrap it all up with your hands; spicy fermented bean paste that might smell a little funny but taste delicious in your BBQ wrap, and if you're in the mood, the korean firewater: soju.
We’ve searched high and low for the best. So roll up those sleeves, put on some clothes you don't mind getting a delicious smoky musk into and check out these KimchiTiger approved joints.
Miss Korea BBQ
This 3-story K-town staple is our default destination for solid, convenient Q (in fact its the only place in Manhattan we go to get our fix). From bibimbap to bulgogi and everything in between, this place will not disappoint (like many of its K-town counterparts). A true Korean will tell you the best litmus test for a restaurant is to sample the banchan (small plates) -- and this place passes with flying colors. When it comes time to order meat, you can’t go wrong with galbi (beef) or samgyupsal (pork belly) -- which is cooked by an ahjumma (Korean auntie) right in front of you. If you’re feeling adventurous, ante up with an order of the succulent and chewy duck -- which you won’t find at any other KBBQ joint. Wash it all down with a bottle of the green stuff (soju) or makgeoli served in ceramic pots. If you’ve never been, this is THE place to get your feet wet.
Koreatown, Manhattan. 10 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001. (212) 594-4963 • misskorea.com • Yelp • Foursquare
Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong
Located a hop, skip and a jump away in Flushing, Queens, Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong serves up some of the city's finest KBBQ. The Kang Ho Dong franchise, started in Korea by a former wrestler turned comedian (who was infamous for tax evasion), has locations in the motherland, LA, Hawaii, Queens and soon a spot on 32nd St in Manhattan (link). The focus here is not on traditional entrees, but on the meat -- fresh & high quality galbi, pork belly, pork cheek, brisket & Kobe -- cooked up over a gas flame right in front of you. Each diner gets their own soy sauce & wasabi dipping sauce, along with shared fixin's off the grill and limited banchan. After your meat course, order up the doosirak (Korean lunch box), a hibachi style fried rice made with the pan drippings served up in an old war-time tin box. Excellent eats combined with a hip, trendy atmosphere make this joint a fan favorite, and worth the schlep on the 7 train.
Hahm Ji Bach
One of THE best all-around Korean restaurants in the city, this Flushing staple is a favorite of Anthony Bourdain and the Michelin guide. Hahm Ji Bach is serves up some of the most authentic and high quality KBBQ, as well as traditional dishes. Pretty much everything here, along with the gracious banchan spread will appease audiences young and old. Our favorites on the grill are the samgyupsal (pork belly) and bulgogi (marinated rib eye). The rich, pungent and super savory muk eun ji kimchi stews (kimchi aged and fermented for at least one year) are some of the best in the city.
Tong Sam Gyup Goo Ee
Just like everyone else, Koreans LOVE bacon. We have our own twist on it: samgyupsahl which is thick cut pork belly that is not smoked or cured. Tong has samgyupsahl in its name so they mean business as you can see from their storefront.
Tong cooks their pork belly treats uniquely on clay domes at your table that are also covered with kimchi, bean sprouts, and other banchan that impart their respective flavors to the pork belly. Top off your meal with fried rice made on your table taking advantage of all the grease that has been aggregating on the dome. Tong is also known for their nangmyeuns (cold arrowroot noodles in a rich meaty broth), particularly their kimchi nangmyeun that really helps you beat the heat as it’s served in a bowl made of ice!
Auburndale, Flushing. 162-23 Depot Rd, New York, NY 11358. (718) 359-4583 • Yelp • Foursquare
Gaonnuri has to be included on any list because of one distinction: they claim to be the tallest korean restaurant in the world. Towering over Manhattan's K-town on the 35th floor of the Woori Bank building, Gaonnuri offers not only the best panoramic views of NYC of any korean restaurant, but maybe any restaurant period. One of the newest members of the list, they are part of a new wave of korean restaurants that are trying to cater to a new upscale crowd by eliminating the smokey smell that settles into clothing by putting vacuums in their gas grille. Gaonnuri is a great choice for a fancy night out with a view (bring the wallet!).
So Moon Nan Jip
We’d be remiss at KT to not mention the other K-Town, in the Korean hotbed of Bergen Country, NJ. So Mon Nap Jip is one of the best in the North Jersey game in Palisades Park. Always packed (clearly for a reason), So Mon Nap Jip uses charcoal to fire up their signature kalbi giving the smokiness that we all love. Their assortment of banchon is NYC worthy as is their gomtang and yukgaejang. You don’t have to cross the Hudson into NYC to get your KimchiTiger fix!
Dong Bang Grill
Another proud fist bumping addition to our list, Dong Ban Grille in the Korean hotbed, Fort Lee, NJ, has kept authentic Korean seeking locals happy to avoid the hustle and bustle of NYC. Over gas grilles, their kalbi and sirloin (which is often forgotten amongst K-BBQ afficianados), stand out alongside their japchae and dolsot bibimbap. You won’t leave Dong Ban unhappy or hungry if the locals are to be trusted!
Mapo Korean BBQ
Another stalwart of Flushing, specifically in the Murray Hill (no not where your Frat and Sorority friends end every disappointing weekend) section of Flushing affectionately nicknamed 'Eaters Alley', Mapo is holding onto a dying NYC Korean BBQ tradition (especially now that NY KomTang and BBQ House has made way for the KunJip expansion): BBQ over charcoal. Korean BBQ is not exempt from the great American backyard debate of gas vs. briquette. If you like smokey flavor, Mapo IS the place for you. Try the samgyapsahl and kalbi that is accentuated by the smokey grille and cooked in long slabs and cut by your server. Every order of BBQ is accompanied by roasted creamed corn and a steamed egg soufle that is not found at most Korean BBQ spots making the meal even heartier.
Han Joo Chik Naeng Myun & BBQ
Like their next door neighbor Mapo (I swear that this isn't just about Queens, but they don't call it Eaters Alley for nothing!!!), HanJoo stands out for the unique way they cook up their meat: over a crystal pan! HanJoo claims that the crystal pan more evenly distributes the heat from their gas grilles. Their BBQ rivals the quality of their next door neighbors, but the crystal pan that is slanted down allows the wait staff to do something that Mapo can't: make fried rice with all the drippings. Their non BBQ Korean dishes are quite exceptional as well, especially their nangmyeun (there’s a reason that it’s part of their name) and kimchi mandu, which provides a cooling balances to the sizzling BBQ.
An institution on Northern Blvd in the other NYC k-town, Flushing, no other BBQ spot on the list offers more polarizing opinions, but it is an institution nonetheless for 1 reason: all you can eat korean BBQ. All this comes for the price of a standard order of kalbi at any other spot on our list. While not the highest quality, the sheer quantity of meats and banchans is impressive allowing you to formulate your own delicious meal.