New York City is so diverse with so many different ethnic neighborhoods and one of my favorites is Koreatown, or K town as some people call it.  Many people just pass through K town because it is so centrally located (mostly 32nd St. between 5th and 6th avenues), but I do think you should consider it a destination on its own. There is plenty to do and many places stay open very late.  At times, it may feel like you have been transported to Asia. So here are some of my recommendations for your visit to Koreatown:

Korean Food

There are so many different types of Korean food that I think everyone can find something they like.  Korean BBQ is really fun with a group. I like the places where you get to cook the meat yourself right on your table, but many places will cook it for you. The one thing that you have to take into consideration if you cook yourself is that you may leave smelling like meat, but I think it is worth it! My favorite place to have Korean BBQ is Gaonnuri.  It is more upscale than most other Korean BBQ restaurants. It is located on the 39th floor and the views are spectacular.  Out of town visitors will be impressed. I would recommend making a reservation.

View from Gaonnuri, sorry about the reflections! - "Koreatown: A Little Seoul in NYC" - Two Traveling Texans
View from Gaonnuri, sorry about the reflections!

A more casual option is Mandoo Bar. While they specialize in dumplings (yum!), they also have other Korean noodle dishes and Bibimbop. Bibimbop is a rice dish served in a hot stone bowl with vegetables and meat. The food here is really good and it is very affordable.

The dumpling sampler at Mandoo Bar in K town. - "Koreatown: A Little Seoul in NYC" - Two Traveling Texans
The dumpling sampler at Mandoo Bar.

Another casual place that I really like is Five Senses. They have a wide variety of lots of different Korean dishes from soups to bbq and pretty much everything between.  They also have a special lunch menu during the week. Unfortunately, they don’t take reservations, so you may have to wait for a table.

Our food at Five Senses in Koreatown. Photo credit - Artee Sehgal - "Koreatown: A Little Seoul in NYC" - Two Traveling Texans
Our food at Five Senses. Photo credit – Artee Sehgal

As far as drinks go, you should try soju. Soju is similar to Japanese saki. Many places have flavor infused soju such as apple or watermelon. Since it is a pretty strong alcoholic drink, I definitely prefer the flavored ones.

Dessert In K town

I am normally not a big fan of Asian desserts especially things with red bean paste! But in Koreatown, you should try to save some room for dessert because there are plenty of good options in the neighborhood. While Grace Street is a coffeehouse, they do have a really interesting dessert called Ho-Dduk, which I had not seen anywhere else. It is a warm pita shaped pillow filled with melted brown cinnamon sugar and walnuts. They also have a dessert called shaved snow.

Another one of my favorite dessert places is Spot Dessert Bar. There are two locations in the city, one in the East Village and one in K town. The Koreatown location is a little hidden upstairs in a food court, so the atmosphere is not quite as nice as the East Village location. Still, it is worth the visit, their desserts are very creative and tasty. Plus they have great bubble tea.

The Golden Toast at Spot is one of their signature desserts. So good and perfect for sharing. "Koreatown: A Little Seoul in NYC" - Two Traveling Texans
The Golden Toast at Spot is one of their signature desserts. So good and perfect for sharing.

Karaoke

Even though I can’t sing, karaoke is one of my favorite things, especially in K town.  Many places offer private rooms which are rented by the hour.  I like private room karaoke because you can really let loose! Only your friends can see.  The rooms usually have disco lights, several microphones, and a tambourine.  You will need to make a reservation.

Anisa enjoying a karaoke night with her friends Artee, Santy, and Manica. "Koreatown: A Little Seoul in NYC" - Two Traveling Texans
Anisa enjoying a karaoke night with her friends Artee, Santy, and Manica.

My favorite place to do karaoke is Radio Star because I think they have the best selection of English songs – especially my favorite country ones.  If you are looking to go all out they have an all-you-can-drink option but everyone in the room must opt in.  If you are looking for a more budget-friendly option you can go to Gagopa, which is BYOB (yes you get to bring your own adult beverages!) Karaoke with friends is the perfect way to end a night out in Koreatown.

Have you been to K town? I would love to hear about some of your favorite places.

Anisa

Expert Tips for K town:

  • Korean restaurants have good options for vegetarians.
  • Gaonnuri has great views that visitors will love.
  • Don’t let your singing abilities stop you from trying karaoke, let loose and have fun!
  • Koreatown is also a good area for tourists to stay in Manhattan, it is very centrally located.

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K town: A Little Seoul in NYC
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