With the release of Deuki Hong & Matt Rodbard’s Koreatown: A Cookbook, I definitely have had a strong hankering for Korean food lately.* New York City, being the melting pot that it is, has anything that you may crave. While there is a Koreatown in Queens, I am familiar with the Koreatown on 32nd street between 5th and 6th filled with almost nightclub-like restaurants that come alive after-hours — many are open 24 hrs! This Koreatown started in the 1980s with a few restaurants, rice-bowl to go spots and Korean barbecue joints to feed workers in the nearby Garment District. Naturally this evolved into a tourist mecca, but still attracting many Korean New Yorkers. A lot of these restaurants even have special late night menus with saltier fare and higher prices — all the better to soak up that alcohol my dear!
My early 20s in NYC working in fashion PR was definitely a fun time. Just out of college, I seemed to have an endless amount of energy and my girlfriend, Raquel and I found ourselves in K-Town on a few occasions for late-night eats. Raquel is half-Korean and I loved to let her take over the ordering. I still have mouth-watering memories of bold delicious flavors and textures of things I can’t even begin to pronounce. Last night, Raquel and I met for dinner and a long overdue catch-up and I couldn’t think of a better place to dine than K-Town! Koreatown is in another stage of evolution now, becoming a real foodie destination with cuisine and dining experience to be reckoned with. I can’t think of a better example of this than the restaurant we chose, Her Name is Han.
A block away from the main thoroughfare of Koreatown on 31st between 5th and 6th, Her Name is Han is the Sister restaurant to Take31, another K-Town restaurant changing the game; owner Kihyun Lee named it after his mother. And if mom was a chic East-Village hipster, it would feel like we were dining in her home. The decor is seriously dope. The crowd is mostly young, artsy and Korean — Lee went to the Fashion Institute of Technology — and the restaurant has a mid-century aesthetic.
Her Name is Han specializes in home-style Korean fare and the stews are out of this world. Enough chatting. Check out these eats and go, like, NOW!
*Also, sorry to say that the recent news stories about the Queens spa SpaCastle, have also fueled my Korean food cravings. A few years ago friends and I attended a birthday party there. Our takeaway, “At least the Korean food was delicious!”