When you think about Korean food in New York, you immediately think about Korea town and its BBQ joints! But, there is a great place Midtown that serves some mouth watering Korean food that can satisfy the meat eaters as well as the vegetarians. This place is called Korea Palace.
Here is my history with Korean food: I went to Seoul more than 10 years ago, on a Business trip. I stayed few weeks and tried many of their specialties, some that I would probably not even mention on this blog! Of course, the most popular is the Korean BBQ (Bulgogi) where you will cook some marinated meat and eat it in a piece of salad with some red sauce on it. A variation of that dish is made with eel that is very good, but I remember that they were serving it not with lettuce, but with a leaf that had a thicker texture and a more pronounced taste.
I also remember eating a chicken ginger soup that Korea Palace has on its menu. It was a very hot day and we ended up in a restaurant where, after removing our shoes, we sat on the floor. There was no A/C and it was already uncomfortable. They brought this extremely hot soup that we ate and we were sweating like crazy because of the soup. Our Korean host told us that it was normal and very good for health as it allows the body to get accustomed to the heat. Well, it did not work for me...But the soup was delicious!
So, back to Korea Palace. I went to this restaurant in 2010, when my boss retired and although I liked the food, I never came back. This time I came with a bunch of co-workers for a nice celebration. Of course, when you enter into the restaurant, you cannot miss the golden crown that is displayed. It is a Chonma-Chong Gold Crown dated 5th to 6th Century A.D.
Then, the restaurant has plenty of rooms and what I appreciate is the fact that they have separate private rooms, some for up to 8 people and some bigger, like the one where we were.
In term of food, we decided to order some appetizers to share. Of course, like most Korean restaurants, there were already some side dishes (banchan) that had various veggies such as potatoes or pea pods.
My all time favorite and present most of the time is Kimchi, a fermented dish made of vegetables, the most popular being cabbag,e and some seasoning that can make it spicy.
This kimchi was perfect, spicy but not too much. By the way, you can find kimchi is grocery stores like Whole Foods in case you want to try!
The soup was very good with some tofu on the bottom.
Then, we got the scallion pancakes (Pa Jun).
That was interesting because I always associated scallion pancakes to Chinese food! At Korea Palace, you can have them with either seafood or kimchi. We picked seafood. This was very good, although a bit greasy. The crust was crunchy and the seafood was a nice surprise inside the pancake.
The second appetizer was the vegetable dumplings (Man Doo).
These were fried. I loved it! The thin shell was deliciously crispy and the filling packed with flavor. This was perfect with some soy sauce as well as chili sauce.
The third appetizer was glass noodles (Jab Chae).
Glass noodles are fantastic. They are typically made with starch from mung bean, yam, potato or cassava.
Then, came the entree: I picked the bibimbop with chicken (you can choose tofu or beef also).
Bibimbop is a rice bowl served with vegetables and a raw egg. The egg will not be raw for long as the bowl is extremely hot and the food continues to cook in it (you can hear it sizzle). It is so hot that it creates a crust with the rice that is fantastic!
Having this crust was great because it added some crispiness and taste to the dish. Anyway, to enhance further the taste, I also added some soy sauce and chili sauce. This rice bowl was really good and I really liked the different texture had between the burnt rice and the veggies that were crunchy.
After all that delicious food, we skipped dessert! But definitely, Korea Palace is a great place outside Korea Town for some amazing Korean food.
Enjoy (I sure did)!
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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!