went with a group of 7 sat night w/ a resv for 8:30pm. all met upstairs at the bar and knocked down a few beers until the table was ready. promptly at 8:30 we were all seated near the entrance. the restaurant itself is not that big. maybe a capacity of 50 max. the decor is modern and very un-korean. clientele was a mix of young koreans and caucasian nyt review followers. it's not on the main 32st so it lacked the tourist crowd which was a huge plus.
the banchan was very few compared to the 32st norm. maybe 6 different kinds of vegetables. however, each person gets a mixed green salad with a ginger vinegrette dressing which wasn't bad. we ordered sirloin, marinated kalbi, and pork belly. the sirloin was ok. kalbi was very tender as the NYT said but the marinade was very sweet. too sweet for a korean palate. tasted more like the japanese yakiniku bbq where you taste more of the sugar than the garlic. overall not bad but it was far from the traditional garlicky kalbi taste i'm used to in flushing and pal park, nj. also, the woodchips they use to cook the meat on the table started dying down after 15-20 mins. we had to have both of ours replaced because it wasn't hot enough to cook the meat properly. hence it ruined a fraction of our meats due to low fire.
the pork belly was bad. very dry and thin. i still havent found a pork belly place that can compete with kunjip on 32st. we also tried the tuna clay pot(dol-sot) bibimbop. flavorless tuna and a very small clay pot.
overall the restaurant is very different than any of the k-town restaurants in decor and service (which was very friendly, courteous and a huge plus). it tries a little to be like woo-lae-ok in soho without the steep prices. it comes close. like woo-lae-ok, the quality of the beef is a notch above other korean restaurants. however, all of my friends and i thought the flavors lacked korean authenticity in that the spices were toned down to saisfy the non-korean palate. it's a nice looking place with friendly service and the kalbi wasn't bad.... but it wasn't a place i'd go to for real korean cooking...
36 restaurant and bar is on 5 west 36th st. b/w 5th and 6th aves. right across the street from woo-chon.
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