Table of Contents
- 1 Destination: Fort Lee, NJ (Koreatown)
- 1.1 Welcome to Fort Lee, New Jersey!
- 1.2 Korean Restaurant, Fort Lee, NJ
- 1.3 Easy Galbi Recipe
- 1.4 Where to have Korean Barbecue in New York:
- 1.5 Where to have Korean Barbecue in the World:
Destination: Fort Lee, NJ (Koreatown)
Korean Food is having a moment. Its new-found popularity can be accredited to the acclaimed chef, David Chang, headlined by his Momofuku restaurants. Through his eateries, this exquisite cuisine has found itself favored by even the most traditional of Western palates. One can’t help but appreciate the infectious hybrid of unworldly spiciness and sweetness.
New York City has an excellent Koreatown, but if you want to find real “Seoul Food”, cross the Hudson on the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey and go to Fort Lee Korean Restaurants.
Welcome to Fort Lee, New Jersey!
Fort Lee is a true enclave. There is a constant pull from the big city just across the Hudson River, seemingly wanting to annex the town. Fort Lee, however, finds a way to staying true to itself by remaining a fresh aired, small town. Akin to many small towns in America, there is one High School and one Main Street.
America is a melting pot. Fort Lee, like many others, is being built up by a strong immigrant community. As for Fort Lee, the striving population is that of the Koreans; a proud culture that is family-centered and food-driven. With this said, there is no shortage of restaurants that avails authentic Korean food in this town.
Korean Restaurant, Fort Lee, NJ
We’ve had our share of Korean food, usually in one of the many eateries in New York’s Koreatown. A strip of about three streets, a block long, near Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan. The restaurants we tried in New York’s Koreatown have all been good, but honestly, pale in comparison to the ones that exist in Fort Lee.
A Fort Lee Korean Restaurant we make a point to cross the bridge for is, So Kong Dong. A no-frills eatery equipped with tables that can accommodate big parties. This business does not have a liquor license allowing its eaters to BYOB; which furthers that feel of a true family table. People come here for a good time and great food.
BanChan are Korean side dishes
At So Kong Dong, like many Korean home meals, accompanying small starter dishes are brought to the table to get the appetite up. So Kong Dong does this gratuitously. These delectables are called BanChan, which are usually a range of sweet, savory, mild and spicy pickled dishes, such as the ubiquitous kimchee. The best part, you can order as many refills as you’d like.
This restaurant specializes in two things, one of which is soft tofu soup. Here, the soup is offered in many levels of spiciness, not unlike ordering chicken wings. We like our’s spicy. The kind of spiciness that hurts so good, and leaving us wanting more. The soups are presented in stoneware bowls that come out piping hot (temperature). There are many combinations, both for the vegetarian and the carnivore to experience. The word umami comes to mind with every sip.
Of all Korean dishes, Galbi is the star. Galbi is a short-rib barbecue that is at the center of most Korean meals. The butchering is unique in that the cut is against the bone, and sliced very thinly. Generically, the base marinade usually includes the likes of soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, onion, garlic, sesame oil, pepper and a fruit, usually pear.
Galbi is the dish many are willing to travel and pay for. So Kong Dong is an establishment that is known to serve one of the best. Like all barbecue operations, they have a tried and true special recipe that is kept very close to the vest.
Few foods are more satisfying than this harmoniously smoky, salty, sugary beef dish. I put Korean barbecue up against others any day. It’s best paired with a side of rice and continual helpings of the banchan offerings. There is no gentle way of eating this dish. One can’t help but pick it up by hand and gnaw away. It wouldn’t be barbecue otherwise.
Here, when your Galbi order is ready to be brought to the table, the server will start everyone off by doling out white rice from a large clay pot onto smaller individual tin bowls. Barley tea is then poured into the larger vessel from which the rice came, facilitating the scooping of burnt rice that covers the bottom. This portion of rice is considered to be prized.
Galbi, the Korean short rib barbecue beef.
Their Galbi is grilled to perfection and served one temperature, a perfect medium, and then presented in a still-sizzling cast iron plate. You are then given a pair of scissors so as to cut the long and thin short-rib pieces into more manageable segments.
Plates of these come out from the kitchen in a factory-type pace, and the aroma that emanates the room is like no other. Every time I first glance at that sheeny piece of beef, my mouth waters. So Kong Dong uses a superior cut of meat that has the right amount of marbleized fat, which gives it tons of flavor. It’s fall off the bone succulent and hard to stop at just one portion.
It’s no wonder why this place heads the list of Fort Lee Korean Restaurants, and why this specific dish is the perennial favorite. So, if you’re looking for a little Seoul Food, go to that quintessentially American town across New York City named, Fort Lee, N.J., and order some Galbi.Print
Easy Beef Galbi Recipe – This is a Korean Short Rib Barbecue Recipe that is so easy, you can make it for dinner tonight.
- 5 pounds of thinly sliced beef short-rib
- 1 cup of soy sauce
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- 1 cup of lemon soda (7-up preferred)
- 2 tablespoons of white pepper
- 2 tablespoons of white sugar
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 6-10 cloves of crushed garlic
- Ask your butcher to thinly slice beef short-ribs.
- Create a marinade with all the ingredients mentioned and put the beef in the mix. Keep in a sealed container or plastic storage bags for a minimum of 3 hours. Overnight is best. This breaks down the meat and tenderizes.
- A grill is preferable, but a cast iron pan or a good non-stick pan will do.
- Bring the grill or pan to high heat.
- Once hot, introduce marinaded beef. Do not overcrowd. Cook each side for about 3 minutes.
Where to have Korean Barbecue in New York:
Experience Korean Barbecue at New Wonjo in NYC’s Koreatown. There are many cuts of meat from which to choose, not just short-rib. There are other proteins available if you’re not a beef person. Offerings include chicken, pork, seafood, tofu, and vegetables; all brought tableside to be cooked at your personal table grill.
Where to have Korean Barbecue in the World:
As mentioned, in the article, there is So Kong Dong in Fort Lee, New Jersey, USA.
If you have time to take a flight to Seoul, Korea; I’ve been told that the place to have Galbi is Mapo Sutbul Galbi (마포숯불갈비) in Nonhyun-dong (논현동), a 24-hour joint supposedly favored by Korean celebrities. It’s not just a place to be seen, but known to have the best beef.
Pin it to your board!