Muk Eun Ji
34 W 32nd St (5th Ave & Broadway)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 736-0099
Site: Visit the restaurant site
2nd Cuisine: Barbecue
Area: West 30s
As we wondered up 32nd Street in the heart of K-Town we were greeted by numerous Korean restaurants which makes picking one an onerous task. Did we want Korean fried chicken, soups or maybe barbecue? We settled on a place called Muk Eun Ji which is known for its kimchi and barbecue.
The place is loud and bustling with large tables filled with all sorts of Korean delicacies. Be prepared to share plenty of food. The meal begins with a traditional banchan, a series of small plates to be shared. At the center was a bowl of kimchi, fermented cabbage seasoned with chili peppers, and among the best I've tasted. The table quickly filled up with things like crisp bean sprouts drenched in sesame oil, large thin slices of pickled white radish, silky tofu in soy sauce, sauteed greens and even a bowl of Korean-style potato salad. Everything was fresh and wonderful. Our server was also very helpful when it came to navigating all of the different tastes.
This was all before our first appetizers arrived. We ordered shumai, a plate of bite-size shrimp dumplings ($7.99), and the Hae Mool Pa Jun ($9.99), a seafood pancake made with shellfish, baby shrimps and lots of green onions. It's cut into slices that are perfect for dipping into soy sauce topped with toasted sesame seeds. It was followed by a bowl of Gobdol Bibimbab ($14.99), a mix of ground beef, vegetables and a lightly fried egg. It is served atop steamed rice in a sizzling bowl. When mixed together all of these great flavors start to meld together with bits of crisp rice (similar to what you might find at the bottom of a paella pan) adding some extra crunch. We also shared a bowl of Yachae Soon Doo Boo ($11.99), a bubbling cauldron of spicy soft tofu and vegetables. As a bonus, the restaurant also provided a free bowl of Gyerann jjim, a traditional steamed egg casserole that was light and fluffy.
The main event was the Korean barbecue that is cooked table side. What's better than thick slices of pork belly and marinated rib eye cooked before your eyes and served with roasted onion and kimchi. Each bite was better than the next as the meat became caramelized on the grill. Short rib and duck are also available.
As we left our minds were happy and our bellies very full.
Review By: Thomas Rafael