New York Eats: Kunjip Korean Restaurant @ Korea Town

For dinner on the Saturday of Dumbses reunion, we all went to Kunjip Korean Restaurant, a Korean BBQ (and non-BBQ) restaurant in the heart of Korea Town in NYC. With a group of 11, we waited a long time, although we were assured by the hostess that there would be zero wait once we placed our orders outside. I don’t know if it’s a normal thing here at Kunjip, but you have to place your orders when you’re waiting outside before they seat you in the restaurant. The hostess also couldn’t really speak English and explained things to us mostly in Mandarin – thank goodness we had a couple of Mandarin speakers in the group!

After waiting for what seemed to be a long while, we were seated. A group of 11 was squished into what normally seated 8. It was a tight squeeze, and most of the time, we had food stacked on top of another bowl with food inside, or something to the effect. I wish they had given us at least a 10-sized table so that our rice bowls weren’t half on the table and half off.

While the food at Kunjip is good, it definitely wasn’t great and there were some hits and misses among the many plates we ordered. The pricing was a tad steep, so I don’t think I’ll be running back here for Korean BBQ anytime soon.

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Kunjip is on a busy street in Korea Town. There are many passersbys, and they make you wait outside till you decided on your order, so it does look like there is a long line of people outside.

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Banchan (Korean side dishes that come with any Korean meal): The banchan we had that day were various varieties of kimchi, some fish cake, and a delicious steamed egg dish (not pictured.) My favorite was the steamed egg! The kimchis were alright – definitely not the best kimchi I’ve had in my life. Some were a tad too sweet, other were a tad too sour, with the emphasis on the word too. Not banchan that is worth killing for, but it’s passable.

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Haemul Pajeon (Seafood Pancake) – $16.95: The haemul pajeon was very good. The outsides were crisp, and insides tender and seasoned just right. There were bits of octopus, squid, small shrimp pieces and green onions. It was very good, but the price was a tad steep for what it was. The pajeon was cut into ten pieces and what you see were two pieces out of the ten – so it’s really a big pancake either.

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Gobdol Bibimbab (Rice in Heated Stone Pot with Kimchi, Vegetables, Ground Pork and Egg) – $13.95: This bibimbab was okay. It came in a piping hot stone pot, and the mushrooms were nicely marinated. The pork on the other hand could use some seasoning. It was a lot better with the bibimbab sauce, but I feel that the pork bits really needed some spices to get rid of the porky smell.

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Spicy Pork Gobdol Bibimbab (Rice in Heated Stone Pot with Kimchi, Vegetables, Spicy Pork and Egg) – $18.95 (with doen jang chiggae): This bibimbab was way better than the other one. The pork was already marinated in a spicy sauce similar to the bibimbab sauce that they gave. Thumbs up!

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Doen Jang Chiggae (Bean Paste Stew) – This doen jang chiggage came as part of a combo with the spicy pork bibimbap. There was plenty of tofu in this stew and some green onions, but nothing quite more than that. The soup was salty, but had no richness in it. It’s slightly better when you pair it with the bibimbap, but there’s a lack of a bean-y aroma that you associate with doen jang chiggae.

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Mae Woon Ddukboki (Panfried Korean Rice Cakes in Spicy Sauce) – $10.95: This dukboki is pretty good! The sauce is spicy and well seasoned! I loved the sauce! I wish the rice cakes were cooked a tad more because they were harder than some others that I’ve tried, but overall, it’s a good dish. Yum!

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Bulgogi (Beef marinated in soy sauce)  – $22.95: The glass noodles that came with the bulgogi was great, but the beef was not good. Instead of nice thin slices, the slices have been broken down little pieces, perhaps from frying them too much. There was not much beef and a lot of onions. I was expecting a lot more from my $22.95. Will not get this next time.

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Spicy Pork BBQ – $22.95: Absolutely delicious! I especially liked the pieces with a little bit of charred corners. So yummy when wrapped with a lettuce leaf. I will totally get this in future!

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Chicken BBQ – $22.95: Pieces of breast that have been  marinated in soy sauce and then fried on the grill. This was pretty good. The chicken pieces were tender, and it came with some squash slices and two mushrooms. I wish the grill was hotter because the chicken was mostly steaming in it’s own juices instead of getting a nice sear. Still, pretty good.

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Pork Belly BBQ – $22.95: As a huge fan of pork belly, this was a huge disappointment. The pork belly was not marinated at all, and was very tough to eat. It was not flavorful either. I think the portion could be a little bigger too. Two and a half slices of pork belly for almost $23!? That’s crazy!

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Galbi BBQ – $29.95: I saved the best for last. The galbi BBQ is awesome! Its very nicely marinated and flavorful. AND, it was perfectly cooked – a little browned on the outside and pink on the inside. I loved it! If I’m coming back to this restaurant, it will be for galbi!

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Look at that galbi! Delicious!

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Kunjip Restaurant

Address: 9W 32nd Street
New York 10001

Phone: 212-216-9487

Hours: Open 24hrs

Price Range: $$$ ($20 – $30 per person)

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