Tonight I ate at a K-town restaurant called Gahm Mi Oak (43 W32nd St). I was excited to be with someone adventurous enough to break free from the prerequisite barbecue/bibimbop options.
Little Flickr set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/micky_is...
There were just two of us so we didn't manage to get through much of the menu, but what we had was very good.
The restaurant has a healthy, vibrant bustle to it and the most wonderful smell when you first walk in. It's basically a long corridor, which means constant, heavy traffic, but then Gahm Mi Oak is not really marketing itself as a date spot.
Before ordering we were given cups of really good roasted rice tea. I imagine that kimchi comes with everything. Within seconds of ordering, a large bowl of kimchi with a pair of scissors sticking out of it was plonked onto our table. A waiter came over and cut it into manageable chunks, and removed the scissors. It was unusually delicious kimchi, with large pieces of daikon in addition to the usual cabbage.
Helpfully, the menu is beautifully illustrated with photos, or I would have had no idea what I was getting myself into. Looking around and seeing who looked happiest with what was also helpful. We settled on a large plate of boiled squid with its various accompaniments (cucumber, carrots, daikon strings & garlic, all of it raw) and a bowl per person of the milky oxbone soup that comes with both rice and noodles soaking in it as well as paper thin slices of boiled beef.
The interesting thing is that everything comes to the table completely unseasoned. The kitchen adds absolutely no salt or pepper to the soup - those condiments are available on the table (with a teaspoon for the salt!), along with a huge bowl of chopped scallions for liberal sprinkling. The squid, too, is totally untouched - you're supposed to dip it in one of two spicy fermented soybean sauces.
The dishes are very big so I would recommend you go in a larger group so that you can try more things. While what we had was very good, we were kind of overwhelmed by the size of the dishes, and our palates were kind of bored by the end.
But everything tasted clean, fresh and honest. I was very happy with my meal and would definitely go back.