Woorijip's buffet line-up and roster of hot and cold pre-made items change over time. Here's a report on the highs and lows of a recent Woorijip meal. The conributor who wrote this review is a S. Korea native, so read on to get the inside take on Woorijip's current offerings!
Korean food should never be expensive. Growing up with the street vendors peppering the blocks back in South Korea, I’m used to a single buck’s worth filling me up. But in this costly city, cheap, tasty food is hard to come by.
So imagine my joy when I discovered Woorijip, an à la carte takeout joint in Koreatown with universal appeal. Professionals grab lunch on the go (everything is already pre-packaged for easy opening at your desk later). Old friends catch up over kimbab ($3 to $6), Korean “sushi” rolls. Moms and daughters bond over huge bowls of kimchi stew with pork and spam ($6) from the noodle bar in the back. And when the sun sets, the dinner rush draws young and old alike looking for beers ($2.49 to $4.99) and soju ($8.99), a distilled, vodka-like, rice liquor popular in Korea, to start off the night.
The buffet ($6.99 per pound) offers a dizzying collection of vegetables, noodles, rice and hot entrées from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (lunch) and from 5:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (dinner). My favorites on a recent visit were the simmered mackerel and the chicken stew.
The mackerel melted in my mouth, and its spicy marinade provided a rich foundation for the light notes of pepper flakes. The moist, juicy chicken pieces in the hearty stew were saturated with the bold flavor of red peppers, while tender potatoes and carrots added sweetness. It was an irresistible combination of flavors, and I mixed every remaining drop of the stew with my white rice.
For those who can make up their mind about what to eat, chilled and warm pre-packaged goods are available. I particularly enjoyed the chewy, tangy squid in the squid and rice roll ($5.50), which contrasted nicely with the simple flavors of the rice and the sesame-oiled seaweed.
I also paired the bulgogi over rice combo ($5.50) with the spicy rice cakes with fish cakes ($3). The generous mound of marinated beef lacked moisture and flavor, but the sweet and spicy chewy rice cakes mixed with cabbage and onions kicked in some of both, giving us a wonderfully satisfying dish.
Both the squid roll and the bulgogi came with little bowls of soup—miso or seaweed. This time I opted for the miso, but I almost always reach for Woorijip’s soothing, comforting seaweed soup, which tastes nearly as good as the one my mom makes.
That’s one big reason customers come to Woorijip. Its name means “our house” in Korean, and its dining room is often dotted with intimate groups of people eating, drinking and talking for hours, just like they do in their own homes. It’s no wonder that I find myself coming back every other week—I can’t say no to home.
(Photos available at: http://www.cityspoonful.com/woorijip/)
12 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001