The cheery cartoon pig on the sign outside Tong Sam Gyup Gui tells you all you need to know about what’s in store inside. The signature dish at this Korean barbecue specialist in Flushing is sam gyup sal, or “three stripes pork,” after the bands of fat that lace this cut of belly meat. Lau pronounces it awesomely delicious—by far the best version in New York.
The server fires up the dome-shaped grill at your table, then lays out a row of pork slices, flanked by kimchee and bean sprouts. She deftly moves the meat between the hot spot at the grill’s peak and the cooler climes on the slopes. When it’s done, she cuts it up and you take it from there. Season it, if you like, with dwen jang (bean paste) or a tonkatsulike sauce, and wrap it in lettuce leaves with the grilled kimchee and sprouts. There’s a spicy green pepper banchan that chileheads may want to toss into the mix.
If you opt to close your meal with bibim bap, your server will bring out a big bowl of premixed rice, warm it a while on the grill, then fold in any leftover kimchee and sprouts.
Also on the short menu, but only the Korean version, is chueotang, a rich, restorative fish soup that’s relatively rare around New York. It’s made of ground whole loach and it’ll cure what ails you, or so they say. Miss Needle says Tong Sam Gyup Gui’s version is delicious and, if you order it spicy, delivers a robust kick.
Tong Sam Gyup Gui [Flushing]
162-23 Depot Road (between Northern Boulevard and 164th Street), Flushing, Queens