At North End Grill (104 North End Avenue, 646-747-1600), chef Eric Korsh serves up incredibly fresh fish and a French-inspired menu in one of the most welcoming dining rooms in Battery Park City. But when he was recently caught in a rainstorm with his daughters during dinnertime, he turned to Korean barbecue, and found the warm vibe they all needed at the Manhattan location of Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong (1 East 32nd Street, 212-966-9839).
“I was in the city for a doctor’s appointment for my younger daughter, Mia,” he says. “It ran late and was pouring rain out, so we ended up going to this Korean barbecue place, Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong. It was around 7 p.m., and there was already a great vibe, with tons of people and energy. Luckily we got there at the perfect time, because right after we sat down there were, like, 30 people waiting for tables.
“Each table seated four people, and had a gas burner and an extendable hood coming down from the ceiling to get the smoke. They essentially have four or five different ‘packages’ of beef or pork, or you can order individual dishes of short rib and rib eye. We got a small beef package, which comes with kimchi and dipping sauces, and this shredded vegetable thing that you mix to order.
“All in all, it was delicious. If I were to be critical I’d say the grill isn’t as hot as places who bring out grills already burning with charcoal, but it was delicious. There are these two troughs off to the side of the barbecue itself: They put eggs in one and corn with cheese in the other. I’d never seen the corn with cheese before, so that was interesting, and the eggs scramble as the barbecue heats up and becomes another condiment you get to eat with it, which was really cool. We also got a seafood pancake, which was really delicious, too. It’s worth going back to get all on its own, it’s that good. It wasn’t greasy, the inside was soft, and the seafood was cooked perfectly. I was thrilled. And the service was great: The server cooks your meat for you and lets you know when it’s time to eat.
“My girls had a good time. They think that ‘Asian food’ is one thing, from one giant country with no differentiation at all, so they’ll sit down and ask for miso soup and beef chow fun, and I’m like, ‘No guys, this is Korean food…’ It’s really funny.”
Where do chefs go to eat on their nights off? We’re asking them — and they’re divulging the best things they’ve eaten in the last month in this weekly column.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 16, 2015