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Piping hot and brought to the table bubbling, the squid and crab soup is a formidable lunchtime feed.
Korean restaurants can be rather expensive, and a dinner at one of 32nd Street’s barbecues will run as high as $50 or more per person if you really want to satisfy yourself. But nearly all the bigger-ticket places in Koreatown offer amazing lunchtime specials, whereby a full meal of rice, miso soup, salad, pickles, main course plus — the best part of the meal — the pan chan, can cost less than $10. Now a similar spot has moved onto St. Marks, offering similar lunchtime specials.
The collection of pan chan provided for a pair of lunchtime diners is unstinting.
Hanjoo is a branch of a Flushing Korean restaurant that has recently set down in the East Village right on the first block of St. Marks amid the colored wigs, bars, punk-clothing boutiques, and Japanese restaurants. The nighttime prices are on par with most Korean restaurants in town, but the lunchtime special is a paragon of relatively inexpensive eats.
It starts out with a full pan chan presentation — kimchee and other small dishes that serve as appetizer, side dish, and garnish. Eat them before your main course and then continue eating them during your main course. One wonderful thing about pan chan is their renewability: When you run out of one you particularly like, ask for more.
The lunch special runs from around $7 to $10, and includes miso soup, rice, and a bubbling pot of something (generally a fiery tofu, seafood, or pork stew served in a crock), serving of barbecued meat like bulgogi, or bibimbap, the latter an over-rice over-organized farrago of vegetables, omelet strips, and meat arranged across the top of the rice bowl. Mix it vigorously before eating and pour on the red, ketchup-like sauce.
The other dish a friend and I tried was a kimchee stew ($7.95) with pork and plenty of soft tofu. We tried both stews, and their accoutrements made for perfect autumn eating. The place is way spacious, too, with several successive chambers. You’re sure to find a comfy spot and leave with stomach bulging.
The fortifying kimchee stew — dump the white rice in the stew as you eat it.
A couple of several seating areas at Hanjoo
12 St. Marks Place