Kum Gang San


My experience with Korean food is pretty much limited to smelling the kim chi breathe of my high-school friend’s grandmother. I recall them burying jars filled with bean curd and cabbage in the back yard, and passing it off as sanitary and normal. Who the hell knew what was in the groundwater in East Los Angeles where they lived? This deluded family aside, I was excited to try out my first real Korean grub experience. The only real challenges, food wise, were the appetizers, which consisted of all sorts of pickled, hot and spicy, and briny delights. The one thing that freaked people out were the tiny fish (about the size of a grain of rice), which were served whole and what can only be described as candied. I was popping them like sweet tarts, but most stared at them like they were being served little candied fish–unfortunately, the fish stared right back with their dead little eyes. The main course was tasty barbeque beef cooked right at your table. The place itself is a double-decker mass of humanity, with tight tables and hustling waiters. There is some giant rock structure in the front, which we can only assume, is supposed to be a waterfall, but for whatever reason, it was turned off the night we were there. The surrounding neighborhood leaves much to be desired, but this loud space is a fun place to bring a crowd of out-of-towners if you want to give them something different than their usual dinner at Chili’s. [MF]

49 W 32nd St.