Lunch: Single Serve Korean Barbecue at Don’s Bogam

April 1st, 2010

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Korean Barbecue is awesome: the big plate piled with meats, the sizzling grill and the smell of all of it cooking in front of you and a group of friends sharing it all. The whole experience is fun and filling and leisurely time-consuming.
The only problem is that it’s not so conducive to the lunch schedule and doesn’t really scale down for one person so well. Or it didn’t, until I found Don’s Bogam a couple weeks ago. It sits in relative obscurity a block away from the main Koreatown strip. I happened upon it one day during lunch and decided to give it a try. What drew me in were the lunch specials, which at $12.95 may be outside the Midtown Lunch price range, but still makes for a great bargain for barbecue.
Food and pics after the jump…

Banchan at Don's Bogam in Koreatown
It’s even more of a deal when you consider all that’s included. This place doesn’t mess around with portions. Even when eating alone, you still get eight plates of banchan before the meal. When I stopped in with a friend, they gave us a ninth, a pair of small omelettes.
Barbecued Pork Belly at Don's Bogam in Koreatown
The barbecue portions are equally outsized. Above, the cabernet-marinated pork belly is firm and crisped just enough. Below, the Galbi is tender and juicy. Both are brought to the table on a sizzling cast iron platter, like some exponentially better fajitas at Chili’s.
Barbecued Galbi at Don's Bogam in Koreatown
The lunch special also includes a good sized stew on the side. On every visit, I’ve gone for the kimchi stew. It’s got a hot, spicy broth that makes me sweat. I don’t often drink liquor, but if I had some of this broth in a bloody mary, I’d brave the vodka just to feel the sweet burning going down.
What’s really amazing to me about it is that it actually has tofu that I liked. The cubes are firm but with a nice give to them, more like fresh mozzarella than the bland crumbly mush I expect from tofu.
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I haven’t spent any time at the bar area up front, but they claim it’s a wine bar. There’s not much evidence of it, though, despite the empty wine bottles that decorate the whole place. What’s odd is that at least on the lunch menu, the only wines listed are a house white and a house red. Yet, there’s an entire page full of sojus and sakes and such.
Don’s Bogam, 17 E. 32nd Street, btwn 5th Ave and Madison Ave. 212.683.2200.

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