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Is Korean the next food frontier?

Grill your own meats at Takashi.

Grill your own meats at Takashi. Credit: Grill your own meats at Takashi.

Korean Food has long had a place in the New York dining scene. With Koreatown neighborhoods in both Manhattan and Queens, the cuisine has hardly been overlooked. Lately, though, it seems the New York culinary mavens have been giving the heritage-steeped fare a second look - traditional and contemporary restaurants alike.

Some basics from the region's culinary identity can be found in both renditions. Noodles and rice play a large role in traditional dishes, as does the classic Korean dish kimchee, made of fermented cabbage and other vegetables. Beef, the most commonly used meat in Korean cooking, is frequently found prepared with the flavors of deonjang (soy bean paste), sesame or soy and ginger.

Many eateries in the boroughs, including Kang Suh, Cho Dang Gol and Dok Suni's use a straightforward approach to honor these flavors; however, with Korean cooking gaining momentum in the mainstream dining scene, chefs like Hooni Kim of Danji and the recently opened Hanjan, showcase menu items with an updated twist.

Perhaps the most common is Korean barbecue, a traditional cooking technique that allows diners to have a hand in their meal, encouraging guests to sear and cook marinated meats and vegetables at their tables; and just as with other forms of this wide-ranging cuisine, New York City restaurants offer this style of eating in both conventional and updated forms.

So what's the best way to get your Korean food fix? Whichever way you're craving it, we've gathered a list of our top spots that you're sure to love.

Traditional (Plates)

Dok Suni's, 119 First Ave., 212-477-9506
Known primarily for its authentic offerings and tasty pork ribs, this is an approachable eatery and a great venue through which to dip your toe into the Korean dining scene. Price range: $$

Kang Suh, 1250 Broadway, 212-564-6845
Kang Suh has something for everyone - with a focus on authenticity. Kang Suh's soups and plates highlight those beloved Korean flavors in a clean and festive atmosphere. Vegetable and beef dishes stand out, and the staff is knowledgeable and ready to answer any menu questions. Price range: $$

San Soo Kap San, 38-12 Union St., Flushing, 718-445-1165
A Flushing, Queens, favorite, San Soo Kap San is raved about for its noodles and the kitchen's heavy hand with spice. Price range: $$

Barbecue

Takashi, 456 Hudson St., 212-414-2929
Newly opened and sleek, Takashi brings an updated twist to traditional Korean barbecue, showcasing that authenticity need not be redundant. Price range: $$-$$$

Harm Ji Bach, 41-08 149 Pl., Flushing, 718-460-9289
Harm Ji Bach stands out for the quality of its ingredients. Its fresh vegetables and meats make this something different from your standard K-Town eatery. Price range: $$

Do Hwa, 55 Carmine St., 212-414-1224
Do Hwa, the successor to traditional Dok Suni's, combines a West Village feel with the traditional Korean barbecue ingredients, honoring Korean traditions in a restaurant featuring clean, chic decor. Price range: $$

Modern

Danji, 346 W. 52nd St., 212-586-2880
Danji's "Korean tapas"-style menu features unique plates such as "K-Town nachos" topped with kimchee and pork that have earned Chef Hooni Kim culinary acclaim. Price range: $$-$$$

Hanjan, 36 W 26th St., 212-206-7226
Hanjan is Chef Hooni Kim's effort to follow Danji, and it succeeds in its mission. Bringing Danji's innovative and creative small plates to the Flatiron district, Hanjan's menu focuses on utilizing Korean ingredients with modern techniques. Price range: $$-$$$

Gaonurri, 1250 Broadway, 212-971-9045
Gaonurri is known for transporting its diners to a modern restaurant in Korea itself. Its modern vibe does not take away from the delicious bites, each highlighting the chef's Korean heritage and culinary savvy. Price range: $$$

Kori, 253 Church St., 212-334-0908
Bringing a taste of Korea down to TriBeCa, Kori combines the trendiness of its neighborhood with palatable Korean tastes, making for a modernized - and shiny - spot. Price range: $$-$$$

Price Range Key
$ = under $10
$$ = under $25
$$$ = over $26

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