Tuesday, July 13, 2010
American Summer Vacation Series 2010: Koreatown, NYC
Since our foray into Asian cuisine went over so well with the kiddies in Chinatown, I decided to fill my purse with bagels and cream cheese and pass them to the kids under the table while Leslie, Richard and I filled up on hearty Korean fare at Wonjo in Koreatown. K-town in Manhattan is more or less 31st - 36th streets bordered by 5th and 6th avenues with the main thoroughfare being 32nd Street between 5th and Broadway, known as Korea Way. When I was a grad student in New York, I interned at Human Rights Watch, whose offices are located in the Empire State Building about two blocks up from Koreatown. My friend Clare was working at an organization a few blocks in the opposite direction and every week we would meet in the middle at Wonjo.
This stretch of 32nd is packed with Korean restaurants and the only one I have patronized is Wonjo. It was Clare's pick and as a Korean-American with a palate far more nuanced in fermented cabbage than I, her recommendation was enough for me. We rarely strayed from our usual order: the bimbop. A delicious hot stone bowl filled with rice, vegetables, meat and topped with a fried egg. Again, not the kind of thing you would usually order on a 95 degree day but nostalgia for our old lunch meetings and lack of access to good Korean food at home made me do it.
The kids picked over the little plates that preceded the pots - kim chi, spicy root-like vegetables, sesame seaweed, minced tofu. But again, there were no big winners. The glass noodles that I ordered for them did not pass for "pasta" - a typical staple in their diets - the way I hoped it would. Ah, well, more for us.