What do Rachael Ray, Anthony Bourdain, Ed Sheeran, and Channing Tatum have in common? They love their Korean barbecue, and they only go to one place to get it.
Despite the slew of Korean barbecue joints lined up in New York City’s Koreatown, Kang Ho Dong’s Baekjeong has become the hotspot for celebrity chefs, musicians, and actors alike.
According to co-owner Bobby Kwak, people like cronut inventor Dominique Ansel, chef David Chang, the Williams sisters, Maria Sharapova, and Chris Rock
recently frequented the restaurant, to name a few.
One of the reasons the restaurant has become so popular is because it provides an authentic Korean experience — from communal tables to ceaseless K-Pop blaring in the background. A team of attentive servers multitasks by grilling marbled slabs of meat in front of guests, refilling various side dishes to no end, and bellowing “Welcome to Baekjeong!” in Korean every time someone walks through the door.
“We focused on the authenticity of Korean barbecue,” said co-owner Bobby
Kwak. “We wanted people [of all backgrounds] to come in and get the closest thing to what a real Korean barbecue in Seoul is like.”
Each table features a built-in grilling pit for meat, though it also has special compartments for sides like steamed egg and corn cheese to cook in. Customers can order a la carte, or opt for either pork or beef, and will then be presented with a combination of three different cuts of the animal. A soybean paste or kimchi stew also accompanies each meal, as well as an array of Korean side dishes like kimchi and tofu.
The restaurant is famous for its prime cuts of meat — Bourdain loves its traditional kalbi, a soy marinated short rib, while chef David Chang prefers the hard-to-find pork jowl.
While some celebs like Bourdain don’t mind mingling with the masses and waiting for a table like everyone else (Baekjeong doesn’t usually take reservations), some stars expect a more exclusive treatment, according to executive chef Deuki Hong, a rising-celebrity chef himself. These celebs will snag themselves
one of the two private dining rooms on the second floor, where Chef Hong, who recently wrote a cookbook that has become a New York Times bestseller, will personally grill them a special selection of meats.
Baekjeong, meaning “butcher” in Korean, is a franchise restaurant owned by Korean comedian and retired wrestler Kang Ho Dong. The New York City location is one of its most popular joints.
Luckily for those who don’t want to wait two hours for dinner, the restaurant stays open until the break of dawn — from 11.30 a.m. to 6 a.m. Many chefs, like those from nearby NoMad and Eleven Madison Park, stop by the restaurant after closing their own for the night.
Baekjeong recently opened locations in Flushing, Queens, and Palisades Park, New Jersey. The waiting time there will be significantly shorter, though the celebrity sightings might be fewer.
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