Take31 – Korean Dining
Manhattan’s Koreatown is saturated with Korean restaurants that run the gamut from traditional fare, to establishments specializing in Korean fried chicken, tofu, dumplings, and more. As much as I like Pocha 32 and BCD Tofu House, the lines can get ridiculous on a Friday night.
Fortunately, our Korean-American friends who speak Korean fluently were able to suggest an alternative, and made a reservation at Take31 for 7:30pm. Take31 is a fairly new Korean restaurant in the Ktown area, and a welcome change from “the usual” places R and I typically frequent. It was a special occasion since we were also eating with our friend from California who was in town for a friend’s wedding.
The minimalist, rustic décor, wood accents, and dimly lit ambiance suited me just fine.
We stared things off with an appetizer, Dosirak. Dosirak is a Korean old school style lunch box, served with rice, a sunny-side up egg, sausage and sauteed kimchi. Our friend D, who is Korean-American, explained that this was the type of meal eaten by his parents’ generation when they were young students. Supposedly there was a class hierarchy to this: the more ingredients one had in their metal lunchbox, the more likely he or she came from a better off family.
We paired our meal with two mason jars of Yuzu Makgeolli. The bright and crispy fruitiness of the yuzu enhanced the sweet, salty and spicy flavors found in the dishes. This rice wine drink is low in alcohol content and has a thick, yogurt-like texture. I found it refreshing and easy to drink.
Next up were some meat dishes.
Yuzu Tangsuyuk is deep fried pork with yuzu sauce. It tastes similar to Chinese sweet and sour pork, but more refined.
Bongchu Jjimdak is sweet soy sauce flavored sauteed chicken with vegetables (sweet potato, carrot, onion, scallion, hot pepper). It comes with glass noodles. I found the glass noodles too slippery and hard to eat when drenched in the sauce, but the chicken was good. Though it doesn’t compare to the jjimdak from Korea that I had two years ago, it will certainly suffice.
We ordered two stews for our group. Odengtang is a mussel and fish cake soup with radish, onion, scallion and peppers. This soup is served with Crown Daisy and Top Mushroom, and is seeped in house stock, or house-dashi. The broth had depth of flavor and was satisfying to drink even on its own.
The other stew was Kimchi Haemul Kalguksu, which contained knife-cut noodles with seafood, kimchi, onion, scallion, and hot pepper with broth. The noodles were the highlight of this dish. I could taste the freshness of the dough, and swiped second (and third) helpings!
We left full and satisfied. Just outside the restaurant, I found lots of people mulling around outside, waiting to get a seat! I enjoyed Take31, though for better service, I’d recommend going with native speakers who are familiar with selecting and ordering all the dishes.
15 E 31st St (between 5th Ave & Broadway)
New York, NY 10001
Neighborhood: Midtown East