NYC: Exploring Shilla & Woorijip
One of the things I miss the most about LA when I travel is the wide variety of Asian food. Although I could not say any of the places I went to in New York were better than LA, at least I didn’t feel like immediately downing a bowl of pho when I got home because I did eat plenty of Asian food in New York. One night, I checked out Shilla. We walked around Korea Way — NYC’s Koreatown is really just one street; 32nd between 5th and Broadway. The few blocks in the evening were swarming with people and at almost every door were young Korean lads in black suits. Do they have booking in this Ktown? Most likely.
But we were not seeking the companionship of giggling girls and over priced fruit platters. I was determined to find a good spot. I passed a few possibilities and ended up at Shilla because friends were tired and this large restaurant (it has 3 floors!) could seat us immediately. The banchan arrived. I noticed the Korean-speaking tables got extra fish. I would be mad at Shilla but maybe they’ve encountered to many non-Koreans who won’t eat the whole-fried fish. On the other hand, they did ignore me when I asked for more kimchi. And the time we waited to order and to get the check could be construed as bad service. I just chalk it up to typical Asian joint lassitude.
I ordered pork mandoo (dumplings) to start. These were a winner! The meat and wrappers were both tender. I could have ate the whole plate by myself. But I had to share.
One of my favorite Korean dishes is japchae. These were on the oilier side.
We shared the fermented bean paste soup with seafood. I probably should have tried to show the seafood which consisted of a lone shrimp and a clam or two. It was mostly tofu. It went well with plain white rice. It’s a thinner soup so good thing I was getting full from the dumplings and noodles.
Our friend asked for a recommendation and our server recommended the spicy beef noodles. The noodles looked like packaged ramen. He liked it though.
I met a friend who just moved to NY two months ago for lunch. He has been having a fine time exploring the city. We decided to do lunch at Woorijip. Originally we were going to try to do a mini-crawl but as I put everything on my plate from the Woorijip’s buffet, that didn’t happen. I just couldn’t believe there was so much to try. It’s the sort of place that had a buffet, a window that sold noodles, packaged food and if you did go buffet style, you paid by the pound. To give you reference, I paid $20 and change for my plate and a drink. My friend paid $10. Yes, too much food and I could not finish it all. My favorites that day were the chicken wings, Korean greens and what I call Korean Jello (mung bean jelly).
Woorijip12 W 32nd St., New York, NY 10001 — (212) 244-1115
He said people in NYC shopped completely differently than the people in LA. In NYC, you may not have the room and so he bought fruit on the street or stocked up for only a day or two. This is similar to what I saw in London. In LA, generally people had bigger refrigerators so there was a tendency to buy a week’s worth of groceries– that is if you did any home cooking. We explored the Korea Way further by looking through the (tiny to me) grocery store, Han Ah Reum or better known as Hmart. There did not seem like any semblance of order but I wished I could have bought all the interesting things I saw including frozen dumplings, seaweed and enough spice and pastes to make Korean food at home.
We also wandered into a food court, Food Gallery 32. This is where I really regretted not being able to hop from stall to stall. I loved that each stall had electronic signs. Everything was so clean. Although it was three stories, only the lower level had operating food stands. I caught this guy coming up the stairs with his noodles.