Korean BBQ is such a great concept - especially for New Yorkers. You get to go out to dinner in a space much cleaner and nicer than your cramped apartment, you can claim you actually cooked your dinner, and you don't have to worry about the clean-up. The trick is finding the Korean restaurant where the actual food served and setting are equally as stellar. While the majority of Korean restaurants are condensed in midtown between 31st and 36th streets, they are typically focused on the food, leaving much to be desired when looking at the surroundings. However, the trouble is that as soon as a Korean restaurant ventures off of this turf, the quality of food often becomes second-rate with the setting moving to the forefront. Do Hwa, while far from NYC's K-town, actually knows how to serve up top-notch Korean food in a trendy setting.
For those of you who are not familiar with Korean BBQ (gogi gui), it is the practice of grilling meats on a gas or charcoal grill that has been built into the center of a table. The meats have been prepared with Korean ingredients and spices - and so while you do the actual cooking, the success of the food really is in the hands and prep work of the kitchen. It is honestly pretty hard to screw up on the grilling! Another perk about Korean BBQ is the amount of food that arrives regardless of what you order. There are about 10 different side dishes ranging from pickled kimchi to sauteed mushrooms and broccoli that are served prior to the meats - all are at your discretion to eat with the BBQ or on their own. I will definitely admit that some of the items can be a little scary and even hard to identify. But, for the most part, they are great accompaniments. And, once you cook the meat, you wrap it in lettuce leaves, add the appropriate sauce, and pile on any of the side veggies that you choose. I think my favorite additions were the sprouts and the green beans tossed with sesame seeds.
We ordered two different meats to grill up - thinly sliced rib eye beef in a soy sauce and garlic marinade as well as thin slices of pork in a spicy red pepper marinade. The pork was my favorite - both the preparation and the sauce were excellent. In addition to the meats, we ordered another main - Hwe Du Bop - a traditional rice and vegetable medley topped with salmon and tuna sashimi. While we were surprised that this was actually a cold version of Bibimbop, it ended up being a great compliment to the hot meal we were cooking in front of us. Sauces seem to be the thing here - as this dish was also eaten by stirring in a red pepper sauce. One final (and delicious) addition to our meal was the shrimp, squid and chili pepper scallion pancake. This was totally unique- perhaps even a Korean form of a pizza? Well, maybe not in taste since there really was no cheese or sauce, but at least in presentation!
I think it would be nearly impossible to leave any sort of Korean restaurant hungry - especially one where every dish was so good. At Do Hwa, they give you a choice of soup or salad with the meats and even the side salad was deliciously dressed with a soy sesame vinaigrette. Since the food was so well prepared, I really have spent little time talking about the setting - but, the atmosphere is totally appealing as well. So, the next time that you feel like cooking, but you can't seem to make it to the store - and you just don't feel like serving or clearing a single plate, Do Hwa will be just the place to do it all for you. I guarantee you will even end up impressed by your own cooking skills!
55 Carmine St
New York, NY 10014-4305
Phone: (212) 414-1224