Is there anything better than eating grilled meat with unlimited banchan side dishes and delicious broths? That’s why we love a good Korean restaurant, and luckily there are plenty across the city. Of all the fantastic Korean restaurants around New York, the ones that specialize in Korean BBQ are probably the most fun. Korean BBQ is an interactive, do-it-yourself experience that is perfect in a group setting. The restaurants doing the best Korean BBQ in NYC serve up fresh, delicate meats with invigorating seasonings and sauces that you can cook exactly to your liking.  Whether you’re looking for a swanky experience or a low-key hole-in-the-wall, these top-notch spots come through with all the quality meats, hot pots, and family-style dishes that Korean BBQ is known for.

Let’s Meat

307 5th Ave., Koreatown

(212) 889-0089

Photo by Let’s Meat

Let’s Meat is the first all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ in Manhattan—a concept that has proven popular in places like Los Angeles and Korea over the years. There are two all-you-can-eat (AYCE) dinner options to choose from, a signature and a classic. The classic is slightly cheaper (at $39.99) and includes 14 proteins, five side dishes, and four vegetables. The signature choice (at $45.99) features everything from the classic menu, plus an additional three side dishes and six proteins, including seafood.  Looking to save a little money?  Try their lunch menu for $26.99, Monday-Friday and $29.99, Saturday, Sunday, and holidays.

Hot tips: 

  • Make a reservation to guarantee a seat!
  • The thin-sliced brisket is a must.  

Jongro BBQ

22 W 32nd St., Koreatown

(212) 473-2233

Photo Courtesy of Jongro BBQ

This popular and always mobbed BBQ joint, hidden on the second floor of a K-Town office building, elicits old-school Seoul with vintage signs and movie posters, but the real star here is the meat.  Jongro specializes in a wide variety of beef and pork cuts, produced with only natural feeds, not found in normal Korean restaurants.  Experts swear by the beef platter, a selection of marinated cuts of ribeye, skirt steak, short rib, and chuck cooked tabletop and served with classic banchan sides.  Fresh meat delivered daily and cut to order at the in-house butchery, plus an atmosphere that’s an homage to Korea in the ’80s, all add up to attracting homesick Koreans. Expect at least an hour wait at prime dinner times.  Jongro currently accepts reservations Sundays to Thursdays for parties of six or more.  

Hot tips: 

  • Order Naengmyun and pair it with the BBQ. 
  • If you want to kill time while waiting, head up to the 7th floor where they serve soju and you can sing your heart out at karaoke. 
  • Portions are huge! 

Yoon Haeundae Galbi

8 W 36th St., Midtown West

(212) 691-8078

Photo by Yoon Haeundae Galbi

As the name suggests, Yoon Haeundae Galbi is an upscale Korean BBQ restaurant known for galbi (grilled ribs.) The owner, Bobby Yoon, opened the restaurant to carry on his grandfather’s legacy and bring authentic Korean food from Haeundae, Busan, South Korea to New York City.  Their short ribs are prepared through the Haeundae Cut, a special technique that was invented by Bobby’s grandfather to tenderize even the toughest of meats. This method, developed by the original location in Busan, South Korea, that opened in 1964, is unique to their restaurant, and the core of what makes their meat different from other establishments. 

Hot tips:

  • Try the seafood pancake with whole scallions on top, and yook-kal, a spicy beef noodle soup.
  • The potato noodles, cooked with the marinade from the meat on the tabletop grill, are a must.

Don’s Bogam BBQ & Wine Bar

17 E 32nd St., Midtown East

(212) 683-2200

Photo by Dons Bogam BBQ & Wine Bar

Fire up the grill at this Korean BBQ joint and wine bar hybrid. Once you walk past the sleek lounge, you’ll find the dining room of tables equipped with barbecue burners. Servers will help you navigate the menu and show you how to cook at the table. Be sure to order the restaurant’s signature dish, a cabernet three-layer pork that’s been marinated for 24 hours in red wine. Don’s also offers a substantial wine list, in addition to sake, and an open kitchen where you can watch Masterchef Woo Kim in action.  

Hot tips:

  • Try the Galbi (marinated short ribs), Bulgogi (thinly-sliced beef with glass noodles and vegetables) and Bibimbap (steamed rice topped with a variety of seasoned vegetables and served with Korean chili paste.) 
  • They offer awesome lunch specials.

Cho Dang Gol 

55 W 35th St., Midtown West

(212) 695-8222

Photo by Cho Dang Gol NYC

Known as the “Tofu House”, Cho Dang Gol offers homemade tofu dishes aplenty.  The tofu comes boiled, cubed, spiced, ground and in tiny, buttery bits called dregs. All meals begin with a complimentary tofu starter.  Jung suk, the signature tofu casserole, has cubes of delicate white bean curd as well as dregs. Stews mix squares of tofu with seafood, like baby octopus or squid. In non-tofu territory, the pajun combination appetizer includes four pancakes, from mild, crispy leek to zesty kimchi. Sizzling kalbi are served on a cast-iron griddle with lettuce leaves for wrapping.  You really can’t go wrong at this casual, cozy, unassuming spot.

Hot tips:

  • A must-get, if available, and especially if you’re vegetarian: Perilla Seed Tofu Stew, white stew with homemade soft silky tofu and perilla (sesame plant) powder.
  •  Make a reservation! The wait is long.

HONORABLE MENTION:

Mapo BBQ

14924 41st Ave., Flushing

(718) 886-8292

Mapo is a local favorite in Queens and my source tells me the “insider move” is the spicy ribs.  A must-try! 


 

Whether you are already living in New York or looking to visit, Korean BBQ is worth a try! There are many other Korean restaurants such as ones that specialize in stews, fried chicken, etc. Stay tuned for our recommendations!

Robin Shack is a freelance writer and editor. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Amazon.com, Lagunasalt.com and sainteden.com