There’s a new K-Town in town.
Beyond midtown and Flushing, the Northeast Queens neighborhoods of Bayside and Oakland Gardens are brimming with restaurants specializing in Korean fried chicken, barbecue, kimbab and more.
Along and off the bustling stretches of Northern and Springfield boulevards, you’ll find well-known chains like BCD Tofu House and Bonchon, as well as independent eateries.
The plethora of Korean restaurants in Queens and east of Flushing coincides with a large Korean and Korean-American presence in those neighborhoods. According to the Asian American Federation, the majority of NYC’s Korean residents live in Queens (60 percent), with Bayside among the neighborhoods with the high concentrations of Korean residents.
“Queens is filled with Asian culture,” says Joon Yoon, manager of Korean comfort food eatery Modoo Chicken and Noodle Bar, which opened in Bayside two years ago. “Many Koreans live in Bayside and they like to dine out with their friends, so the businesses have grown.”
The restaurants may not be as conveniently clustered as Manhattan’s West 32nd Street Koreatown or those surrounding the Broadway LIRR station in Flushing, but the quality and variety of offerings are on par. Here are four Bayside and Oakland Gardens restaurants specializing in Korean fare to check out:
There’s only one thing on the menu at YeDon, and that’s donkatsu. This dish, featuring breaded and fried pork cutlet topped with savory gravy, was introduced to Korea from Japan in the 19th century and is now one of the most popular hearty foods in the country. For about $14 total, YeDon guests can load up on a bountiful plate featuring two smothered cutlets, steamed rice and pickled and fresh veggies. 209-11 Northern Blvd., Bayside, 718-224-3080
2. Modoo Chicken and Noodle Bar
This sleek and contemporary restaurant lives up to its name, as the chicken and noodles are the go-to menu items. The Korean-style fried chicken, which has a coating that’s thinner and crisper than typical American-style fried chicken, is made with halal meat and comes with the guest’s choice of one of seven house-made sauces. Choose from more traditional sauces like Modoo’s secret recipe sweet-spicy chili, or opt for new concoctions like buffalo-maple. Ramen, which became popular in Korea in the mid-20th century, is another specialty. Try the spicy beef ramen ($13.99) prepared with oxtail bone marrow broth and topped with beef brisket, scallions, bean sprouts, onions and mushrooms. 216-17 Northern Blvd., Bayside, 347-836-8382, chickenandnoodlebar.com
Korean barbecue — marinated meats grilled tabletop served with lettuce wraps and an array of sides called banchan — is one of the most fun and festive group dining experiences on the planet. Biwon’s charcoal grills fire up an impressive selection of meat, including several different cuts of galbi (short ribs), rib-eye steak, eel, duck and plenty of pork. And don’t pass on the complimentary gyeranjjim, or steamed egg custard. 61-58 Springfield Blvd., Oakland Gardens, 718-224-4585
4. Rolly Kimbab
To the uninitiated, gimbap or kimbab may look like overstuffed Japanese maki rolls, but it’s a unique Korean dish all its own, especially popular for its convenience and portability. Cooked rice and other ingredients are rolled in gim (dried sheets of nori seaweed) and sliced for easy one-to-two-bite eating. Rolly Kimbab offers more than 30 different types, including creations like hot dog, spicy bulgogi, and a ham, egg and cheese. 61-23 Springfield Blvd., Oakland Gardens, 347-408-4172