Last Updated on July 8, 2020 by Anisa
New York City is diverse with many different ethnic neighborhoods, and one of my favorites is Koreatown, or K town as some people call it. At times, inside this small district in Manhattan, it may feel like you have been transported to Asia.
Many people just pass through Ktown because it is so centrally located (mostly 32nd St. between 5th and 6th avenues), but I do think you should consider it a destination on its own. There is plenty to do and many places stay open very late. You will also find some of the best Korean food in NYC.
It’s a fun area to spend a few hours and experience a bit of culture. Here are some of my tips and recommendations for things to do in Koreatown NYC:
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What to Do in Koreatown NYC
Koreatown is a vibrant area that can be busy 24 hours a day. No matter what time you visit be sure to come hungry as you will find some amazing food here. The nightlife can be crazy! While there aren’t huge dance clubs, it’s the best area to find karaoke bars in NYC.
Try Korean Food
If you like Korean food or want to try it for the first time, Koreatown has plenty of options. With all the different types of Korean food, everyone can find something they like. Some dishes are spicy but there are plenty of options for those that prefer more mild flavors. Korean BBQ is really fun with a group. I like the places where you get to cook the meat yourself right on your table, but many places will cook it for you. The one thing that you have to take into consideration if you cook yourself is that you may leave smelling like meat, but I think it is worth it!
My favorite place to have Korean BBQ is Gaonnuri NYC. It is more upscale than most other Korean BBQ Koreatown restaurants. It is located on the 39th floor and the views over midtown are spectacular. Out of town visitors will be impressed. I would recommend making a reservation.
A more casual option in NYC Koreatown is Mandoo Bar. While they specialize in dumplings (yum!), they also have other Korean noodle dishes and Bibimbop. Bibimbop is a rice dish served in a hot stone bowl with vegetables and meat. The food here is tasty and very affordable. It’s one of my favorite spots for a cheap meal in NYC.
Another popular casual place is Five Senses NYC. They have a wide variety of lots of different Korean dishes from soups to BBQ and pretty much everything between. They also have a special lunch menu during the week. Unfortunately, they don’t take reservations, so you may have to wait for a table.
As far as drinks go, you should try soju while you are in Koreatown in NYC. Soju is similar to Japanese sake. Many K town restaurants have flavor infused soju such as apple or watermelon. Since it is a pretty strong alcoholic drink, I definitely prefer the flavored ones.
Indulge in Dessert In Ktown
I am normally not a big fan of Asian desserts especially things with red bean paste! But in New York City Koreatown, you should try to save some room for dessert because there are plenty of innovative options in the neighborhood. While Grace Street is a coffeehouse, they do have an interesting dessert called Ho-Dduk, which I had not seen anywhere else. It is a warm pita shaped pillow filled with melted brown cinnamon sugar and walnuts. They also have a dessert called shaved snow.
Another one of my favorite dessert places is Spot Dessert Bar. There are two locations in the city, one in the East Village and one in NYC K town. The Spot Koreatown location is a little hidden upstairs in a food court, so the atmosphere is not quite as nice as the East Village location. Still, it is worth the visit, their desserts are very creative and tasty. Plus they have great bubble tea.
Sing Karaoke in Koreatown NYC
Even though I can’t sing, karaoke is one of my favorite things, especially in Ktown. Many places offer private karaoke rooms which are rented by the hour. I prefer private room karaoke because you can really let loose! Only your friends can see. The rooms usually have disco lights, several microphones, and a tambourine. You will need to make a reservation.
The best karaoke in Koreatown NYC is Radio Star because they have the best selection of English songs – especially my favorite country ones. If you are looking to go all out they have an all-you-can-drink option but everyone in the room must opt-in.
If you are looking for a more budget-friendly karaoke option you can go to Gagopa, which is BYOB (yes you get to bring your own adult beverages!) Karaoke in Koreatown with friends is the perfect way to end a night out. You could also go before dinner as many of the karaoke places offer happy hour specials.
Do Some Shopping in Ktown
You can find some interesting things shopping in Koreatown. It’s a must if you are interested in Korean beauty products, food, or K-pop. For beauty products, try the Face Shop. They have some unique facial masks! For Korean food products, go to H-mart. You will be impressed by their selection of authentic Korean food products. At Koryo Books, you will find lots of K-pop and Korean books.
Relax in the Koreatown Spas
Why not get a massage or spa treatment while you are in the area? You can find spas in Koreatown at many different prices points and some are even open 24 hours a day. Aura Wellness Spa and Spa 32 are popular options.
Directions to Koreatown
Luckily, K-town is centrally located in Manhattan and easily accessible by subway. The center of Koreatown is 32nd Street between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue, also known as Korea Way. The closest subway station is Herald Square and the N,R,W,B,D,F, & M trains all stop there. It is also walking distance from both Penn Station and Grand Central Station.
Where to Stay in Koreatown NYC
The Koreatown area may not be the most trendy neighborhood in NYC, but it is centrally located with good subway access. Times Square, Madison Square Park, and Bryant Park are all a short walk away. The prices for hotels in Koreatown are reasonable (for NYC standards), so it is worth considering it for your base. I like the Hampton Inn, several of my friends have stayed there. (Click here to check current price and availability or read Tripadvisor reviews here).
Have you been to K town? I would love to hear about some of your favorite places.
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Expert Tips for Things to Do in Koreatown NYC
- Korean restaurants have good options for vegetarians.
- Gaonnuri has great views that visitors will love.
- Don’t let your singing abilities stop you from trying karaoke, let loose and have fun!
- Koreatown is also a good area for tourists to stay in Manhattan, it is very centrally located.
- Check out these tips it’s your first time to visit New York City.
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