When non-Koreans ask me what my favorite Korean restaurant is, I say Mandangsui for grilled kalbi and Kang Suh for almost everything else Korean. Kang Suh has been consistently delicious over the many years I’ve lived in NYC and I know many Korean parents that go there for a good meal. If immigrant Korean parents love this place, it’s surely delicious. It is authentic.
Last Thursday I met up with my best friend Hamster for dinner and a movie. We haven’t been out together alone in a long long time since she has two little boys, a new business and it’s pretty difficult for her to just get away. We decided to hit Kang Suh for dinner (also a favorite of hers).
This place is no frills. It doesn’t have a romantic waterfall and piano like Kum Kang Sahn across the street and it doesn’t cater as much to the younger crowd like KunJip. This place is just about good Korean food, no frills and in my opinion, truly authentic delicious Korean fare.
We decided to get the grilled pork belly, kalbi and fermented soybean stew called dwengjang jigae. Of course you have the free banchan (small plates) that come with your meal.
Here’s a shot of the pork belly and the kalbi (it’s a portion for one person each):
The pork belly is like triple thick cut bacon. It’s cooked on the grill and you either eat it dipped into sesame oil with some salt or with some ssam jang (spicy korean sauce). I prefer it dipped in sesame oil so you taste the smokey pork flavor. The kalbi is marinated prime cut meat and it’s very tasty. It’s slightly sweet, a little garlicky and perfumed with the umami flavors of soy and sesame oil. When you cook it on the grill and eat it wrapped in lettuce leaves with some slices of scallion and ssam jang, it’s divine.
Here is the fermented soybean stew. It’s salty and slightly spicey and really hits the spot with a spoonful of rice.
There are vegetables and some seafood as well as tofu. It’s got a bit of a nutty taste to it because of the soybeans but mainly it’s just got a very strong distinctive flavor you really can only find in Korean stews. You have to try it. It’s a staple stew.
Here is the egg custard banchan that Kang Suh does so well – it’s one of my favorite ban chans.
It’s just an egg with a little water and salt steamed to be this light souffle texture. It’s mellow with a slight salt to it that works well with rice.
Gosh just writing this blog makes me crave Korean food again. I don’t eat it as often as I used to when I was living at home but it definitely is “comfort” to me. I know many people know Korean for it’s barbecue but there is so much more to Korean food that needs to be explored. If you love very flavorful foods that warm your soul, this is where to go. Not everything is spicy although Koreans are known for their amazing use of heat and spice.
My mom is visiting this weekend so I hope to visit Kang Suh again.
Kang Suh Restaurant, 1250 Broadway, New York, NY