Exploring in Koreatown


By Dane Feldman
Photo by Dane Feldman.

I think it’s probably safe to say that most New Yorkers would admit to not having been to at least one major NYC landmark. I’ve never been inside the Empire State Building or up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty. Before Thursday, my mother and I had never been to the food court in Koreatown. This seems oddly specific, but it’s especially weird when considering the fact that she’s worked right near Koreatown since the ’70s.

So, on Thursday my mom and I ventured into the food court on 32nd Street between Broadway and 5th Avenue to do some exploring. We stopped at Bunn, a Korean bun station, and tried the classic pork bun. It was doughy, flavorful, spicy, and big enough to share at $2.50 per bun. I plan to return at some point to try the kimchi and the chicken curry buns.

After visiting Bunn, we ventured to Bon Chon’s West 38th Street location for Korean chicken. I’d been to the Bon Chon on 5th Avenue as well as the one on John Street, but I hadn’t tried this location yet. So far, I’ve found all of the locations to be a bit different with slightly altered menus, but still I have not been disappointed.

I ordered the lunch special of eight chicken strips, half soy garlic and half hot, with a side of kimchi coleslaw. The soy garlic is extremely flavorful, but not overpowering, while the hot chicken is almost too hot for me (which I see as a plus because I enjoy spicy food). Getting half and half was a great idea because I needed the soy garlic to help cut the heat from the hot chicken. The kimchi coleslaw was also quite flavorful, not overpowering, and not too creamy like some coleslaws can be.

My mom had half-and-half of the same flavors, but she had chicken wings instead of strips. She also enjoyed her meal, but noted that my hot chicken was spicier than hers. As a warning to those of you who can take some heat (but not too much) I’d suggest going for the wings instead of the strips. Both of our combos were $8.95 and even though kimchi coleslaw isn’t part of the combo side dish list, we weren’t charged extra for it.

I also ordered a bourbon and soda which was only $5 as part of their happy hour special, which runs most of the day. All well drinks are $5 and come in a fairly sizable glass. I obviously can’t complain on that front either.

All in all, the Bon Chon on John Street is my favorite because they serve Korean chicken tacos (hot crispy chicken made the same way as my lunch on 38th with kimchi coleslaw and spicy mayo in a fluffy tortilla). Bon Chon on 38th was still a great experience, though. The service was pleasant, informative, and quick making it a great place for lunch.

I had a great time exploring Koreatown and I certainly plan to return. There’s an abundance of places to check out, so I’ll have to exercise some willpower in not always going to Bon Chon or Bunn.