By now, you've probably been offended by Alison Gold's parody-style, teen-boppy song "I Love Chinese Food". A recent lunch hosted by the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs in a ballroom at The Plaza Hotel, left us humming an embarassing tune along the lines of "I love Korean food..."
When many people think Korean food, they think kimchi, a pickled cabbage condiment that can be spicy and acidic. Though the fermented flavor turns some off, there are plenty of other notable dishes in Korean cuisine that can suit any palate. From crispy pajeon vegetable pancakes to galbi jjiim short rips to a bowl of savory rice and vegetable bimbimbap or japchae, the traditional Korean glass noodles with vegetables, each staple of Korean cuisine resembles a dish from other cultures, yet still has its own flavors and textures.
Soju, a Korean alcohol, has become the world's fastest growing alcoholic beverage, and may even replace vodka as America's most popular alcohol. Get ahead of the trend and pick up a bottle of this flavorless, odorless, maleable booze for your next party.
Korean food has recently seen a boom in NYC, not just in Koreatown (36th St at 5th Avenue), but throughout the city, influencing many fusion menus or new eateries.
Kimchi Taco Truck and its new restaurant, Kimchi Grill, serves up traditional Korean dishes with a twist, Korean chicken wings with waffles or Korean gnocchi rice sticks, and of course, Korean tacos and burritos, making the food easily accessible to those who haven't had straight-up Korean cuisine before. Korilla BBQ offers another twist on Korean food, with rice bowls and burritos exploding with kimchi, meat, and cheese. With five location in NYC, Bon Chon Chicken is popularizing Korean chicken wings, an American favorite. Korean fried chicken (the other KFC), is crispy and brushed with spicy or savory sauce, easily addicting. Korean Barbeque is also popular, and Hanjoo is a downtown favorite.
If you're feeling ambitious, you can learn to make Korean food yourself! Shin Kim, who emigrated from Seoul to New York when she was 16, teaches Korean culinary classes around NYC, eager to spread the tastes and joy of this delicious food among home cooks.
Stick your chopsticks in some kimchi, or skip it altogether, but make it a mission to enjoy Korean food soon and often!