I felt marooned at Ace Hotel (where hip boys and girls play dress-up and doormen can tell a Raf Simons from a Prada bling) on the cusp of Midtown and Koreatown. In that premise there are a Michelin-starred (where I had an underwhelming breakfast), an oyster bar (I gave it a miss) and a very hot Stumptown Coffee (where you can also buy NYC’s acclaimed Mast Brothers Chocolate). There are also a No.8A (a design-focused shop that sells these amazingly addictive, not-so-easy-to-find-but-dead-cheap Girl Scout Cookies) and an Opening Ceremony boutique (that is remarkable for its mark up when compared to the bigger one on Howard Street). Too cool.
The positive side of being at Ace Hotel, however, is that the hotel is within the walking proximity of many Korean gems.
This is a modern Korean tapas bar and a recent winner of one Michelin star. High wooden tables and bar stools. No pomp. Walking in only. The dinner menu was more extensive than the lunch. I fell in love with the Beef Bulgogi Sliders ($12). The beef stripes were expertly marinated and doused in onion sweetness; the steamed and toasted buns were pillow-y; a touch of butter enhanced the unctuousness of the match; the shredded spring onions and the kimchi-ed cucumber gave it a slap of spicy refreshment. Danji is also known for its KFC. My Korean Fire Chicken Wings ($10) did that fame a justice. They were fried for explosive crispy-ness and glazed in spicy honey dressing, which having been infused with four kinds of chilli, boast a good depth. Sticky, finger-licking good. Spicy Pork Belly Sliders ($12) did not vouch for the same level of deliciousness. The combination of fatty belly and sweet Kochujang chilli paste was domineering and did not leave much room for the crunchy cucumber to counter.
This little dumpling place on West 32bd Street is not life-changing but will do as a quick bite place. The Mandoo (a Korean word for dumplings) were prepared fresh at the restaurant’s window and served either boiled (mulmandoo) or deep fried (gunmandoo). There were three variations for fillings: pork, seafood, and vegetable. I ordered a small nibbling portion of all three ($4 each). The boiled pork dumplings (below) contained pork and chive. The casing had a good dense texture. The seafood ones contained a mixture of prawns and seafood sticks and tasted slightly processed. The fried vegetable ones were pleasant. The filling was made predominantly from bean sprouts, cucumber and pickled turnip. Stringy and crunchy to contrast with crispy elasticity. Decent quality of oil and it didn’t leave much of an oily smell.
Turntable Mad for Chicken
Literally, the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten in my life. Turntable Mad for Chicken was located on the 2rd floor of a nonchalant building (with dodgy, tacky shops on street level). You can’t see the restaurant clearly from the street and have to walk in looking for the sign. The second floor was split into the dining area, the bar and the private booths. At night ‘analog’ music can be expected. There were different portion sizes of dissected chicken to choose from – wings, drumsticks, boneless – and two Korean-inspired styles of glazing – non-spicy soy sauce or hot and spicy glazing. My first encounter (I went twice ’cause it was too dark for photography first time) was a medium platter of wings and drumsticks (lost sense of pricing, sorry!). Steaming hot. The skin was so crispy it shattered as I was biting the wings; the meat was incredibly tender and moist; the glazing was, surprisingly, bold, hot but not sticky. A good dose of heat and vinegar-y acidity and immensely addictive. I went again (failed photography = good excuse to return) for the soy glazed action (first drumpsticks below). Big umami taste. The sweetness was the main essence distilled by a hint of saltiness. All the elements were as perfectly technically executed as the hot and spicy ones. Still, the soy glazed lacked the piquant kick, the wow factor. (I also felt obliged to order another helping of the hot and spicy so you can contrast… )
(Special thanks to L’s brother for recommending TMFC !!)
And the addresses ^_^
346 West 52nd Street
New York, NY
Tel. 001 (212) 586-2880
2 West 32nd Street
New York, NY
Tel. 001 (212) 279-3075
TURNTABLE MAD FOR CHICKEN
314 5th Avenue 2nd Floor
(between 31st and 32 nd Streets)
New York, NY
Tel. 001 (212) 221 2222