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Friday, August 6, 2010


(Edit: A recent visit was notable for a remarkable dip in quality - accompanied by a spike in prices, naturally. If you must have Korean BBQ, do yourself a favor and plan a trip to Flushing or Ft. Lee, NJ, where you will receive infinitely better value. Also, this place is now called "New WonJo", hinting at a change of management. In any case, everything we tried, from BBQ to naeng myun to banchan is now mediocre at best. And do not go here expecting anything remotely resembling good service. This place now sums up everything I dislike about Manhattan's Koreatown; Hyo Dong Gak is about the only worthy destination left there.)

The weather in NYC the last several days has been sweltering, and during such times my thought turn, inevitably, to naeng myun. For me, it's one of the great hot-weather dishes, and I've never had better naeng myun than at WonJo.

Naeng myun is thin buckwheat noodles in ice-cold beef broth. Toss in some hard-boiled egg, a few slices of beef, and some ultra-thin slices of cucumber and pear (!), doctor to taste with the accompanying rice wine vinegar and mustard, and you have an incredibly refreshing summer dish.

WonJo is also notable for being the only place I know of in Manhattan's Koreatown that still does their at-the-table barbecue over wood embers, as opposed to gas grills. For me, the gold standard for Korean barbecue is Emone in Flushing, with great quality and reasonable prices--if one can't make the trip out there, the wood embers at WonJo help in make up for the lesser quality and significantly higher prices (as in at least 30%).

But at $12.95, WonJo's naeng myun, with the attendant, excellent banchan, is a reasonably-priced, delicious way to beat the heat.

23 W. 32nd Street, New York 10001