There are opportunities for adventure in life that are sometimes too tantalizing to pass up. A one-of-a-kind (at least for New York City) Korean pork belly feast two LIRR stops past the last stop on the subway is just this for the adventurous traveler/eater dwelling in New York.
This restaurant is an easy place for people that have trouble making decisions. You really go for two things, the samgyupsal ($19.99/person), thinly sliced strips of pork belly that include all the fix-ins you see on the table, and then a post-meal portion of bibimbap ($1.99/person).
I want to show you the photos of how the meal goes down before I talk any further. Here is the timeline:
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 your 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, I overheard "This dish without soju is like steak without wine." Because of the number in our party, the proprietor was nice enough to comp our bottle.
Making your own creations provides for a lot of room for improvisation, 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 perfect 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 we all eyed the second course, the proprietor kept saying "Not yet!" so that we would not jump the gun before the perfect crisp formed on the underside. 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, Queens NY