>> Tong Sam Gyup Goo Yi | Eat the World NYC

31 October 2011

Tong Sam Gyup Goo Yi


There are opportunities for adventure in life that are sometimes too tantalizing to pass up. A feast of pork belly grilled directly in front of you on top of a circular metal griddle, two LIRR stations past the last 7 train stop is one of these things.

Tong Sam Gyup Goo Yi is an easy place for people that have trouble making decisions. You really go for two things, the samgyupsal ($23.99/per portion), thinly sliced strips of pork belly that include all the fix-ins you will see on the table below, and then a post-meal portion of fried rice for another $3.99, which is cooked in all the remains.

Below is a progression of how the meal goes down, with descriptions and more at the end.

Once you have a firm number of people, the staff takes over, covering the inverted pan with strips of pork, kimchi, bean sprouts, and garlic. The fatty strips starts sizzling and dripping immediately, with the rest of the vegetables there to pick up this delicious run-off. Each person has a small tray in front of them with some sauces and an insignificant seeming number of peppercorns. Place only one of these in each lettuce leaf wrap you make, and the significance literally bursts through.

As everything cooks in front of you and hunger rises to critical mass, it is the beginning of true love with this gem of a restaurant. All the other tables are filled with Koreans enjoying what in their home country is a much more typical occurrence, many of which are open all night to cater to the drinking crowds. Speaking of which, it was overheard "This dish without soju is like steak without wine."

Making your own creations provides for a lot of room to improvise, using different sauces, the kimchi, and other items available. Each one can be different if you like, and by the end of the meal you can perfect that last wrap. And about that kimchi... you know it is good, but imagine kimchi that has been sitting and simmering in pork fat. Out of this world.

After all of this has been cleared (read: eaten) from the fryers, the servers return with a giant bowl of marinated rice to put on, eventually covered with seaweed. As the second course is eyed, you will keep getting a firm "Not yet!" so as not to jump the gun. The perfect crisp formed on the underside of that rice is very important. Believe it or not, this is almost just as good as the first course, if that is possible.

All in all, the place is an experience that should not be missed. Just don't bring your Sunday best.

162-23 Depot Road

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