Eat and Drink Round K Cafe brings a Korean 'Dah-Bahn' to the LES By MELISSA KRAVITZ Updated August 20, 2015 2:56 PM Print Share fbShare Tweet Email Ock Hyeon Byeon wants New Yorkers to know that Korean food isn't just for "special occasions." The South Korea native arrived in NYC in early 2015 with a dream of opening his own Korean cafe, or a "Dah-Bahn." Think your grandmother's living room combined with a trendy neighborhood coffee shop and you have Manhattan's very first Dah-Bahn, Round K Cafe, inspired by South Korea of the '80s. The narrow space is part coffee shop, part restaurant, part coffee/tea roastery, part lounge and part educational space where Ock himself teaches coffee classes as well as Korean culture and language lessons. Excellent cold brew, instant noodles and a cozy atmosphere create NYC's first Dah-Bahn. Step inside! Open from 8 a.m. - 10 p.m. every day, Round K Cafe aims to please. While coffee culture booms in both South Korea and Manhattan, Ock aims to bring something special to his cafe. He's happy to chat with neighbors, customers and even barter drinks for bites from nearby businesses. For an off-the-menu treat, order the "Shakelatto," inspired by the Italian Caffè Shakerato. To make the specialty iced latte, baristas shake the espresso with ice to "allow air into the crema [top] part of the espresso to preserve maximum taste of the espresso," Ock explains. Order it a little sweet for optimum iced espresso indulgence. Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz On a recent visit to Round K Cafe, Ock asked this reporter if she liked instant noodles. She laughed because does anyone not like instant noodles and was this a trick question for someone who spends time in non-instant-noodle-serving establishments? Ock disappeared for a good 10 minutes and reappeared with a tray featuring grilled meats in a special marinade, potato salad and instant Korean noodles enhanced with a poached egg. "I'm a better cook than my mother," Ock says of the person who taught him to cook. This delightfully unexpected plate of food is the key to the Dah-Bahn: you'll be treated like family -- and pay fairly for the experience. Ock serves his food "jooahn-sang" style, which means dishes are selected based on guest's tastes. And is there anything finer in life than sipping a shakerato with spicy instant noodles? A dinner menu inspired by Ock's hometown in Southern South Korea is coming soon, sure to include the homemade kimchi Ock makes at the café. Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz Upon seeing NYC's midtown Koreatown for the first time, Ock knew this was not where he wanted to open his café. He didn't feel the establishments there were authentic, and that Korean BBQ is more of a special-occasion feast rather than an everyday Korean experience. He wanted his establishment to be reminiscent of the Korea he grew up in and had heard about from older generations of his family. Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz Round K Cafe ethically sources coffee beans and teas from around the globe. Beans and tea leaves are roasted in-house. The cafe is not without plenty of fun quirks, including that they specifically serve beans from Guatemala on Fridays, because Friday in Korean is "geum-yoil" and both words start with G! Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz Ock encourages customers to lounge in the space. A few regulars take advantage of the air conditioning and free WiFi, but most opt for grab-and-go coffee during the weekdays. From the pastries to the enthusiastic hospitality, everything inside Round K Cafe is wholeheartedly authentic. By MELISSA KRAVITZ Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Comments We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.