Based off a tip from Miss Needle (thanks!), I decided to try "Tong Sam Gyup Gui" Restaurant (the name is only written in korean) and in english it says "N.Y. D.D.M. Migliore Restaurant" (i have no idea how they got that name).
The address is 162-23 Depot Rd. (Depot Rd. is on the left if you're heading north on Northern), the google map is wrong and it's actually off Northern on Depot Rd. between 162nd and 163rd not 159th. Luckily, it's literally directly next to the Broadway LIRR stop (very easy for Manhattan commuters).
Anyhow, it's a tiny restaurant with maybe 10 tables each of which have a half bubble shaped skillet type grill in the middle of each table. Not much decor wise, but was fine by me b/c i knew right when I walked in that I just found a gem. We walked in and weird as it may seem the waitress was mexican, who spoke korean!?!? Very weird, but i thought it was cool.
They've got a very short menu, which mainly consists of sam gyup sal (pork belly - house specialty), daeji bulgogi (spicy pork) and beef intestines in house special sauce. I think there is another small menu with a few chigaes and naeng myun on it. Any which way there was only one thing I planned on ordering...SAM GYUP SAL!! (I tried to get the beef intestines by my GF and friends vetoed me...aghh next time). I love specialist restaurants and this restaurant reminded me of korea where there are great specialist restaurants all over the place.
So onto the important thing. The food was awesome, here's what we ordered:
- Soup: they start you off with a delicious soup on the house, its slightly spicy, but not tangy like most korean soups and has kong na mul (bean sprouts) and pieces of radish in it. It's not too salty, has great flavor and is very tasty. Great start to the meal.
- Sam gyup sal: first they turn on the heat the grill then the waitress lays down the slices of pork belly vertically in a row on the grill (see the pic). She then puts down kimchi and kong na mul (bean sprouts) on the two sides where the pork isn't layed down. The grill is hottest at top and gets cooler on the sides. She then continues to rotate the pork from hottest to coolest until the pork is all cooked, then she cuts it up. You eat it with with the bean sprouts, kimchi and your choice of two sauces (one is sort of like tonkatsu sauce and the other is tenjang sauce). I put it in the lettuce to makes wraps (sooo good). They also give you a spicy green pepper panchan, which i ended up putting in the wrap as well (very good).
- Bi bim bap: at the end of the meal, they asked us if we wanted the bi bim bap for an add'l ($1.99). She then brings out a big bowl where they have already pre-mixed the bi bim bap, put it on the grill and mix it with the kong na mul (bean sprouts) and kimchi that are left over (make sure to leave some on the grill). This is delicious and tastes similar to dol sot bi bim bap (stone pot bi bim bap). Excellent.
Overall, we all loved it and plan on coming back very soon (very glad its next to the LIRR station). Next time, I plan on pretending to be one of the old korean ageshis (old men) sitting in the restaurant who hang out for a long time, eat delicious food and get drunk. Highly recommend, this is the by far the best sam gyup sal i have had in NY and one of the best korean finds I've been lucky enough to find in NY.
so i posted them on yelp (I'm R.L. on yelp) b/c something is wrong on chowhound (it won't let me post them)...check it out (it'll make you hungry):
Sam gyup sal (raw)
Sam gyup sal (cooked)
Bi Bim Bap: