Cook Your Own Food at a Korean Barbecue Restaurant

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One of the really great things about New York CIty is having all these cultures living here together. And by far the most fun way to experience them is through food. From food carts to family friendly restaurants, dining out on ethnic foods is delicious, fun and educational.  

One of my favorite ethnic food experiences, and probably one of the most interesting restaurant experiences for kids is Korean barbecue. Korean barbecue has a couple of things going for it that make it a favorite for both me and kids:

Cooking at the table: I'm not even 6, but I still get a kick out of cooking dinner right at our table. Most restaurants that specialize in Korean barbecue have either a gas grill or hot coal grill in the middle of the table. The waiters will bring out your food raw and cook it before your eyes right on your table. So fun!

Lots of little dishes: Don't you just love eating at a restaurant with lots of little things to taste? When you order Korean barbecue it comes with a legion of small plates with different side dishes (banchan). An adventurous child can taste everything from little dried and marinated fishes to spicy kim chee, pickles and many other delights.

What to Order: Bul Gol Gi is probably the most popular Korean Barbecue dish, but half the fun is trying out different things. I think Kalpi (Korean Short Ribs) are the best barbecue dish. Kids will like dumplings (mandoo) and scallion pancakes. Outside of barbecue, most restaurants will also serve various noodle dishes that might appeal more to some young children.

Where to Go: Manhattan's Koreatown is a the lower 30s between 5th and 6th Avenues, but the densest part is 32nd Street where you will literally find door to door Korean restaurants. You can virtually walk into any of these restaurants for a great meal, but some recommended spots are Kang Suh (also serves Japanese food) and Madangsui.

I've never been to a korean restaurant in Flushing, Queens, but most foodies will tell you that's where you need to go to get the best Korean Barbecue. Take the 7 train to Murray Hill. Main St station and head toward Union St and Northern Boulevard to find lots of Korean restaurants.

How much will it cost: Korean barbecue is not cheap. You're going to pay for the high quality food and the experience. Most restaurants require you to order at least two barbecue dishes in order for them to turn on the grill and each dish will run in the low to mid $20s, but you'll eat family style so two dishes should be fine for a family of four, plus some dumplings, scallion pancakes and maybe a noodle dish. With all the theater, Korean BBQ is a great special occasion restaurant for a birthday or other celebration and, I think, certainly worth the money.

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