Even though we have the unique privilege of living in the city that never sleeps, it’s inevitable that we can often find ourselves confined to Morningside Heights because of class, studying, extracurriculars, or just because you need to catch up on sleep.
Whether you’re someone who wants to explore the city but are unsure where to go, or someone who has never gone past 110th Street or 125th Street, Spectrum is launching a new series that will help you explore the different neighborhoods of New York City.
In this edition, Spectrum is taking you to Koreatown.
Officially located in the two blocks just south of the Empire State Building from Fifth Avenue to Broadway, Koreatown is full of cultural and culinary gems. Koreatown was established in the ’80s with the opening of a Korean bookstore and a few restaurants and continues to expand to this day.
What to do
Get down at karaoke bars
Though K-Town is host to a ton of different karaoke venues, Gagopa Karaoke is often seen as one of the best for its fun atmosphere and huge array of songs in multiple languages. Visitors also recommend MK Karaoke, 5 Bar Karaoke & Lounge, and The Spot Karaoke for their fun atmospheres and affordable entertainment.
Stock up on Korean beauty products
Many beauty gurus swear by Korean beauty products, which can be found at an array of different stores in K-Town. Check out places like TonyMoly, The Mask Bar, and Skylake Skincare for some luxurious face masks and skincare products with a cult following.
Immerse yourself in K-pop
K-pop has taken the world by storm. Plenty of stores, including the well-known Koryo Books (think of it as The Strand, but for Korean books and culture), offer a quirky variety of Korean products (think T-shirts to stationary to music records) featuring your favourite K-Pop stars as well as all types of books.
What to eat
Korean BBQ at Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong
Locally viewed as one of the best Korean BBQ restaurants in NYC, Baekjeong promises fresh, authentic Korean cuisine with an atmosphere to please. Diners can have fun cooking their own food at their table. Lunch boxes are $8 and meals start at $11.
Cheap eats at Food Gallery 32
Home to many vendors of traditional Korean cuisine, Food Gallery 32 offers an incredible array of dishes at affordable prices. Pro tip: Definitely give the bungeo-ppang (fish-shaped pastries) a try!
Sweets and tea at BESFREN
A self-proclaimed “modernized Korean dessert brand,” this little shop offers traditional sweets in creative flavours. Also be sure to check out any of its famous ginseng teas for a healthy boost. If BESFREN doesn’t float your boat, check out the wildly popular Grace Street Cafe just down the street.
What to see
Korea Way (32nd Street between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue) is the heart of Koreatown. Snap a picture of the dazzling Korean signs and explore this street’s 15 24/7 restaurants (though perhaps not all in one night).
Korean Day Parade and Festival
Pop down to K-Town in October for this annual celebration of Korean culture and influence in NYC. Expect a lively parade featuring traditional Korean music, dances, and costumes.
Escaping the stress culture on campus and exploring this beautiful city is something of an understated importance. Take this chance to delve into a new and fascinating culture with plenty to learn and experience.
Mariella Evangelista is a Spectrum staff writer and a Barnard first-year. Korean food is the fastest way to her heart. Reach her at email@example.com.