All grown up in the foodie fun city of Philadelphia! From a mouse to a deer...
This year, in 2015, I wanted to start a new Blog Segment, called SPOTLIGHT ON--real original I know, where I focus on a food/drink venue to highlight the things that I think make them special. And for the first one, I'm starting it off with a little something special in the East Village: Korilla BBQ.
If you don't know about Korilla, please read this and then go to their restaurant immediately and eat some of their damn good food! Like many of the coolest new restos today, Korilla started out on the streets of this cruel city, as a food truck back in 2010. And way back then they were the only ones in NYC to be slinging Korean-Mexican BBQ, which is now it's own genre of food [truck]!
Korilla made waves in the food truck scene, not only for their unique style of food, but also with their crazy bright and unmissable colors! And did I mention their family secret kimchi added a tantalizing taste to their tacos and burritos?! My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. Actually, I'm now recalling that theirs was the very first kimchi I'd ever tried! Aw, now I'm getting all foodstalgic.
Anyway, the truck became successful rather quickly and with a huge following in NYC already, they decided to try broadening their scope to a more national audience when they appeared on Season 2 of Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race (You know, back when they still cast already established trucks). They actually left the season a midst a controversy as they were accused of putting their own money into the show earnings, although they were the front-runners of the competition anyway.
Luckily, for us New Yorkers, their TV stint didn't take them out of the food-producing game, AND they returned to their home to sling some of that delicious kimchi bacon fried rice (YES) goodness! Back when I spent a summer helping my friend--owner of the Feed Your Hole truck, I enjoyed the spoils of working next to them on several occasions. In the food truck world you often trade food with the trucks parked near you!
After a little hiatus from the truck in 2013, to travel to Korea and work on their already solid kimchi game, they came back with a new gameplan that included sites on a brick and mortar shop, which finally opened in October of last year on 3rd Ave, just north of St. Mark's Place.
I had seen it a few times and I finally had an opportunity to have a late lunch there just a few weeks back and was SO HAPPY I did! First, because of the time, there was barely anyone there, so I got full-service by their eager and super-friendly staff. The space is small but comfortable and while the bathroom is tiny, it does exist, which is good enough for me! And while the front of the restaurant is mostly taken up by the food--it's a build your own type spot, the back of the space is painted by a local artist with historic East Village scenes, which warms my tiny little NY heart!
Of course, by the time I was there I was starving so the number of options, which really isn't too many on a normal day, was daunting in those first moments. But fortunately the nice guys working behind the counter informed me they were offering a limited special menu that day as they had paired up with another bomb ass team, Kimchi Smoke, who are based out of New Jersey where they conjure up their Fat Boy sauce, which you know I threw into my everything!
The guys suggested I get a bowl so I could get the most bang for my buck and I obliged. For my protein I picked the special smoked pork and for my rice I went with the B.K.F.R. or bacon kimchi fried rice. I also said that YES I would definitely take the special kimchi fries, and so by this point the boys knew I was serious, so with appropriate assumption they asked: you want everything on top? UM yes. And although I said--I don't think I need meat on the fries, they're smarter than me and so they gave it to me anyway!
Behold: what fat girl dreams are made of!
With the food in front of me, I inhaled a few whiffs of deliciousness and took the mandatory photos of the feast before a very unpromising Tinder date just hours later. All of the food groups were there and I was a happy camper. There was nothing between me and my food. And so I just enjoyed with a few groans and moans about how spoiled my tastebuds were. "Tell the boss!" Yelled the boys, and I did!
That's what I call BEASTed.
As I sat and drank some water, and digested the food, I had a thought. If the owner's here, perhaps I can talk to him--not only to gush about my amazing lunch, but also to see if perhaps he'd be interested in participating in my new show, The Food Funny. So I introduced myself to Edward "3D" Song, who's a fellow native to these boroughs and lucky for me, interested in joining in on the Fun on the UWS! When I sent him the deets of the show he asked if he could participate in the Stand-up competition and I was happy to oblige, as I knew I'd pair him up with my good friend and hilarious funny lady Adriane Hamilton.
So, to wrap up, I want you to eat at Korilla, because it's the smart thing to do. And tell you that if you're already a fan of theirs then you should come check out a show where the owner gets to try out his funny-man chops! Lastly, I don't have public tours of the East Village, however I am happy to bring a group to the area for a private group, and if you want to do an Asian-Fusion tour, I couldn't think of a better neighborhood to do it in!
It's that time of year again! It only happens twice every year...and it's when all of us humble humans have the chance to dine in some of the City's best restaurants on the super-cheap*! As of right now there are 317 restaurants OFFICIALLY participating in this year's winter restaurant week with several more that are offering their own unofficial deals that are as good, if not better than the official ones.
What are these deals I speak of? You get a 3-course meal for $25 at lunch and $38 dollars at dinner at one of these great participating establishments, where such a menu will regularly range from $30-100 or more! Some of these are your neighborhood spots, but the ones I suggest that you check out during this very special time are those that are usually booked up and out of budget!
A lot of the best deals are found at lunch--like your $25 meal at Gotham Bar & Grill or Cafe Boulud or Delmonico's. But you can still score a pretty nice dinner deal at places like Top Chef winner Harold Dieterle's Perilla, the famed Palm Restaurant, or our former speakeasy '21' Club.
Some of these restaurants offer great deals for wine or other drink pairings as well, which I would definitely take advantage of if you can--for some reason most people don't, but let me tell you...the house wine at Dovetail is MUCH better than your average house wine, and TOTALLY worth the extra $18 split between two people...but hey, not everyone can have wine with lunch, so I guess I get it? No I don't!
Whatever your preferred cuisine, you're surely able to find something that fits your taste. There are participants in all five boroughs and beyond!
The name is slightly deceiving as is more like Restaurant MONTH...the official dates are: Jan 14th-Feb 8th, with many of them extending into weeks beyond that...possibly into March. Just note that not all restaurants offer both lunch and dinner and most of them are for the weekdays only. You can check out the details for Restaurant Week at NYCGo. Or you can make reservations through OpenTable at those participating restaurants.
Of course, if you're not in NYC during this time...you can always come back for Summer Restaurant Week in July/August. Otherwise...why wouldn't you take advantage?!
*I know that some of you out there will say that $25 for lunch isn't cheap, even for NYC...but I'm not talking about a slice of pizza or a bagel or hot dog. If that's what you want, then you should go to your regular joint, or ask your nearest local for their favorite. If you would like to have a nice sit-down meal for lunch or dinner, at a restaurant you can't typically afford...then this is SUPER-CHEAP. For example, if you chose to eat at Gotham Bar and Grill without the deal, your lunch could total $51 before tax, tip and beverage for: A Mixed Green Salad, Gotham Burger, Ice Cream/Sorbet. And those are the CHEAPEST items on the menu. So, if 50% off or more isn't super cheap for a 3-star restaurant...then I beg you to tell me what is.
Yeah, now I want some pizza for lunch.