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Edward
January 28th, 2002, 02:46 PM
K-Town Comes of Age
The flavor and energy of Korea thrive in a midtown enclave

By LAN N. NGUYEN (DAILY NEWS)

When Sarah Moon was growing up in the Bronx, her family went to midtown Manhattan whenever they wanted good, authentic Korean food. Her father would make the half-hour drive to Herald Square and park along 32nd St., where the neighborhood would undergo a startling transformation. "Walk down the street and you'd see Korean signs and people," says Moon, 24, a human-resources recruiting coordinator. "It's a dramatic change from the rest of the city. A lot of times, people don't recognize it as K-town."

K-town, as Koreatown is affectionately called by people who work in and visit this largely commercial neighborhood, remains something of a hidden treasure, despite its prime location. For starters, it is such a tiny sliver of real estate — bordered by 31st and 36th Sts. and Fifth and Sixth Aves. — that it is easily overshadowed by nearby destinations like the Empire State Building and Macy's. And as in Chinatown, language can present a barrier. Stroll down 32nd St., the heart of the neighborhood, and if you don't read Korean, you'll miss a lot.

But with a little patience — and our handy guide — you can unearth K-town's many charms. Moon still makes the trip from the Bronx to 32nd St. not only to eat, but to shop and hang out with friends. "It's changed a lot over the years," she says. "Stores are definitely catering to a younger crowd."

Cecilia Lau, who has lived in the area since 1988, agrees. "Back in the 1980s, it was limited to a few shops, mostly restaurants," she says. "Then they started to expand and add stores that were not food-related. I don't know why, but Asians love karaoke, so you saw the emergence of karaoke places. They also love to drink, so on the second or third floors, people get together and drink. Now, it's a potpourri of things."

K-town is at a crossroads. Once focused on fulfilling the needs of New York's burgeoning Korean-American community (according to the U.S. Census, the city's Korean-American population has grown from 69,718 in 1990 to 86,473 in 2000), it has seen an increase in non-Korean traffic in the last few years. Sang Man Lee, manager of the popular Kam Gung San restaurant, says most of today's diners are not Korean. Kwan Hanson, manager of Yi Pak Spa, says 85% of her clientele are Westerners, while 15% are Asian.

With more and more Westerners discovering K-town, the neighborhood is grappling with issues of growth and identity. "Its primary focus is to cater to the Korean community, but there is also a desire to expand beyond that," says City Council member Christine Quinn. "Something that impacts Little Korea's ability to expand is who they want to attract and how they should diversify. First is coming up with a community consensus. Once that is decided, assistance will be easier to define."

There was never a formal plan or agreement to create a Korean commercial district in Manhattan, since most Koreans settled in Queens. In fact, says Koryo Books owner Eung Pyo Choi, the concept of K-town didn't even exist. But rents were low and the foot traffic high because of the surrounding office buildings and the proximity to the Garment, Gift Shop and Flower Districts.

Choi recalls when he settled on 32nd St. and opened the city's first Korean bookstore, 22 years ago. "There was maybe one Korean restaurant and some Korean wholesalers on Broadway," he says. He wasn't sure his store would even work, since shoppers who wandered in would confuse the Korean language with Japanese or Chinese. "When I first opened my store, I would sell $30 a day," he says. "My goal in the beginning was to sell $100 a day. It took me two years before I could do that."

Another 32nd St. pioneer, Yu Kim, moved his shop, New York Kom Tang Soot Bal Kal Bi, six blocks uptown from 27th St. in 1982 to be closer to the subway and commuter trains. "Before I started here, I always watched this area," he says. "There were a lot of gift shops and custom tailors, and only two or three businesses that were Korean. But good location — a lot of transportation. So Broadway was a good place to go."

Kim, who started as a dishwasher when he came to the U.S. in 1976, believes his was the second Korean restaurant to open on 32nd St.

So from a bookstore and a handful of restaurants, K-town sprang into being. And with their success, more and more Korean businesses settled in the neighborhood as immigration from Korea grew. By the mid-1980s, the area started to resemble a street in Seoul.

Today, shoppers can buy mangoes, udon noodles and kimchi (cabbage pickled in red chili) at Han Ah Reum supermarket. Need Korean long johns or cosmetic brands like Iope or Laneigh? Sun Plaza is the place to go. For hair accessories of every color and style, stop at Ping Kiy.

But what draws people like 25-year-old Ryu Ishimoto, a programmer, to K-town are the food and the hopping nightlife. Many restaurants are open very late — some 24 hours a day — and there are plenty of bars, karaoke lounges and cafes to choose from. Ishimoto says he comes once a week to eat and twice a week for the entertainment.

The Price of Progress

The proliferation of night spots and the late hours means high-school and college students are crowding the neighborhood. Even 25-year-old Greg Chin of Bayside, Queens, says he feels out of place when he returns to K-town. "Kids are still the same age and I am getting older," says the financial sales associate. "Now, my main exposure is eating. I am Chinese, but I don't feel like a traitor when I say K-town coffee shops are nicer."

Another concern among old-timers is the increased competition. Where there used to be one restaurant, says Choi, there are now some 15 restaurants on 32nd St. alone. And not too long ago, Choi's bookstore competed against two other Korean-language bookstores, which have since closed.

But one thing that doesn't change, says Chin, is that K-town hospitality. "Whether you go to a CD store or a lounge or cafe, I find the service is remarkable. It's just the way the Korean people are."

Restaurants

With menus often several pages long, take your time to peruse. And for those seeking the authentic experience, dishes with ingredients like intestine and oxtail will more than satisfy.

Blue: Crowds flock here for the good, affordable food downstairs and the swinging bar upstairs. 9 W. 32nd St.; (212) 947-3028.

Cho Dong Go: Tofu and rustic Korean cooking are the focus of this establishment. 55 W. 35th St.; (212) 695-8222.

Gam Mee Ok: After a night out, many drop by this pretty space for its kimchi and tasty ox-bone soup, believed to be a great hangover remedy. 43 W. 32nd St.; (212) 695-4113.

Hangawi: In this serene temple to vegetarianism, the food is so delicious that you forget that what you're eating is supremely healthy. 12 E. 32nd St.; (212) 213-0077.

Kum Gang San: The popular Flushing, Queens, restaurant opened its Manhattan outpost in 1988 after the landlord made them an offer they couldn't refuse. With a bar and additions like appetizers and dessert to its menu, this establishment takes pains to be Western-friendly. 49 W. 32nd St.; (212) 967-0909.

Mandoo Bar: Craving fresh dumplings? Stop at Mandoo Bar, and watch the women in the window craft the yummy bite-size treats. 2 W. 32nd St.; (212) 279-3075.

New York Kom Tang Soot Bul Kal Bi: The oldest restaurant on 32nd St., this Korean and Japanese restaurant's can't-miss dishes include barbecue, bean-paste casserole, and sliced rice cake and beef dumpling soup. 32 W. 32nd St.; (212) 947-8482.

Shops

K-town has become more than a food destination. John Lee bought his cell phone at one of the neighborhood shops; Cecilia Lau picked up her sunglasses here. Here is a sampling of stores:

Galleria: Gaining the store after his friend defaulted on a $400,000 loan, Eung Koo Lee spent the next four years turning this tourist stop into a classy department store that carries designer labels like Gucci, Fendi and Prada. Lee chooses styles that flatter the Asian coloring and just recently added men's clothes and accessories. 315 Fifth Ave., 2nd floor; (212) 684-3927 or (212) 684-3976.

Koryo Books: Korean books of all genres, as well as pottery and tchotchkes, fill this 4,500-square-foot store. Shoppers can refresh themselves in the well-appointed tearoom upstairs. 35 W. 32nd St.; (212) 564-1844 or (212) 564-9765.

Opane: Fans of Hello Kitty and other cute characters will love this shop, with its huge array of pens, stationery, bags and stuffed animals. Clothes, accessories and a photo studio are downstairs. 6 W. 32nd St.; (212) 643-9077 or (212) 358-5539.

Sun Plaza: This store has everything from cosmetics to rice cookers at affordable (though higher-than-Chinatown) prices. 22 W. 32nd St.; (212) 564-3397.

Han Ah Reum: A supermarket that carries Korean and Japanese delicacies, along with seafood and produce at low prices. Handy if you can't make it to Chinatown. 25 W. 32nd St.; (212) 695-3283.

Yi Pak Spa: For $100, you can choose either an hour-long acupressure massage or an hour-and-a-half session that includes a body scrub, cucumber facial and milk rub. 10 W. 32nd St.; (212) 594-1025.

Hangouts

Like the bubble-tea cafes in Chinatown, K-town has places where the young can spend hours and hours eating and drinking as they catch up with friends. Two popular spots are:

Cafe Metro: Financial analyst Sofia Theophilus, 24, likes to meet friends here for tea or phat bing su (a drink made with shaved ice, red beans, fruit cocktail and whipped cream), available only during the summer. 2 W. 32nd St.; (212) 244-2217.

Pari Pari Ko: "You can find this kind of bakery in Korea," says Lau. Visitors sit and enjoy drinks from coffee to tea to tropical-snow ice, and snacks like red-bean ice cream and mocha roll. 43 W. 32nd St.; (212) 967-1929.


Original Publication Date: 1/27/02

clubBR
April 15th, 2007, 03:54 AM
On one of my weekly visits to beautiful K-Town
http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s256/clubbr/love039.jpg

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http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s256/clubbr/love036.jpg

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http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s256/clubbr/love034.jpg

http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s256/clubbr/love033.jpg

http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s256/clubbr/love030.jpg

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A very fun place to be at night

clubBR
April 15th, 2007, 04:04 AM
It was my girlfriends birthday so we went to a fancy bar
http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s256/clubbr/love017.jpg

http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s256/clubbr/love015.jpg
The place had 6 patrons scattered around the place, it was a Tuesday
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Traditional Korean liquor; Soju. + A refreshing bottle of Heini for me
http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s256/clubbr/love021.jpg
Fried Calamari! Mmmmm
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The gritty steps of NYC, where everyone goes to smoke a cigarette
http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s256/clubbr/love031.jpg

We fit the Asian stereotype: Next we hit the KARAOKE!! LOL

Punzie
April 15th, 2007, 04:35 AM
You really captured the spirit of K-town! Thank you for sharing photos.

(Please tell me that you treated your girlfriend to more than fried calamari for her birthday dinner.:o)

NoyokA
April 16th, 2007, 11:28 PM
I love Korea Town. Unlike China Town which to me represents the very worst of Chinese culture, it smells, its overcrowded, its dirty, the goods are mostly cheap knock-offs of European and American brands, making things even worse are the crowds of Long Island and New Jersey Tourists. Korea Town on the other hand is a showcase of Korean culture, the goods are authentic, and the architecture and streetscape are all held to the highest degree, furthermore tourists are far and few in between, it is a Korean showcase for Koreans, although others enjoy it as well. I love going to a sushi buffet in K-Town and then hitting up a karaoke bar nearby, Karaoke Duet, which is actually Japanese, but it’s keeping with the Asian-theme.

lofter1
April 17th, 2007, 09:30 AM
The few blocks of midtown south where the so-called "Koreatown" is situated are a wreck -- the worst of rehabs of existing older buildings and hardly a new good building amongst the lot.

clubBR
April 17th, 2007, 11:13 AM
You dont appreciate the charm of the place? You are entitled to have your own opinion. I like how the buildings are old and yet the businesses inside are modernized. The colorful signs are catchy and festive. I honestly find K-Town to be beautiful

You really captured the spirit of K-town! Thank you for sharing photos.

(Please tell me that you treated your girlfriend to more than fried calamari for her birthday dinner.:o)
Dont worry! I took her to a restaurant before we went to the bar!

Ninjahedge
April 17th, 2007, 11:46 AM
Actually, I find it rather tacky as well.

I do like the food and the grocery there (Kimchee anyone?), but the day-glow and slap-on decorations are rather cosmetic.

I would consider it a good deal better in some ways than CT, but at the same time, they charge you for it!

So yes, to each their own. But "charm" is not a word I think I would ever use to descibe KT.... ;)

NoyokA
April 17th, 2007, 01:48 PM
It is tacky. But have you seen Korean culture? Their cities are what we would call tacky as well. The point is, its clean, it doesn't have a bad smell like China Town, its maintained, and its a good representation of Korean Culture. Moreover the area that surrounds it is one of the few areas of midtown that isn't bustling with life or energy, this block atleast is, and its only a block.

kliq6
April 17th, 2007, 02:24 PM
This place is a mess in terms of the buildings being run down. However there are some good places to eat and I normally do stop there when I go to a Knicks game.

Best quote from article above is this"Kwan Hanson, manager of Yi Pak Spa, says 85% of her clientele are Westerners, while 15% are Asian". I wonder what goes on in that spa that so many westerns go to it for!!!

Ninjahedge
April 17th, 2007, 02:24 PM
It is actually a nice block where you can find more than offices, chain stores, or residences.

I like those blocks.

Although that picture of Steven Tyler (I think from Dude looks like a Lady?) for the Kareoke place is a bit scary!!!!

The place inside reminds me of the old LaserTag arenas a long time ago... Same kind of pseudo-futuristic motif....


So which one of the retaurants do you guys prefer, and why? We have found some to be better than others for various reasons (price, taste, those little bowls of appetizers tehy serve before you eat..).

Oh, we also loe the smell of the BBQ, but have never really gotten into it. It costs so much for some simple BBQ'd meat that I do not think it is worth it. It tastes OK, but not $20 OK for chunks of marinaded meat that you cook yourself... :p

NoyokA
April 17th, 2007, 04:15 PM
My favorite place is the 24 hour sushi buffet shown in this photo:

http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s256/clubbr/love033.jpg

It used to be that the buffet was offered 24 hours, last time I went I think they discontinued that and it is now only offered for certain times. If you catch it at the right times though, it still can't be beat, all you can eat sushi for $16 if I remember correctly.

Ninjahedge
April 17th, 2007, 05:50 PM
I will have to check it out. (I like Sushi, woman does not)

But, KT is not really known for Sushi... ;) I was also interested in what you guys think are the best Korean food places there (noodles included!).

MidtownGuy
April 17th, 2007, 06:04 PM
When I worked on 33rd street my co-workers and I had a lot of fun going to a karaoke bar a couple of times over in Korea Town. I had them pissing their pants with laughter because I was belting out the songs with such fervor despite having a voice worse than a strangled cow.:D

There is a bakery where I was introduced to a Korean pastry that I LOVE...they are little pastry balls filled with some kind of bean paste- not like they sound, they're soft and kind of sweet, not like a taco or anything:)
So good! I forgot the name, if anyone knows what I'm talking about.

clubBR
April 17th, 2007, 07:52 PM
There is a bakery where I was introduced to a Korean pastry that I LOVE...they are little pastry balls filled with some kind of bean paste- not like they sound, they're soft and kind of sweet, not like a taco or anything:)
So good! I forgot the name, if anyone knows what I'm talking about.

The largest and most well known korean bakery in K-Town is called Koryodong. The ball-like pastries filled with sweet red bean paste is called Jjim Bbang or Paht Bbang.


But, KT is not really known for Sushi...

Wow. You must have been to K-Town once. There are a dozen sushi restaurants and they have some of the top ratings in New York


Oh, we also loe the smell of the BBQ, but have never really gotten into it. It costs so much for some simple BBQ'd meat that I do not think it is worth it. It tastes OK, but not $20 OK for chunks of marinaded meat that you cook yourself... :p

Korean BBQ is offered first on almost every menu in K-Town. The reason is simply because it is the most in demand. The BBQ is not simple at all. Theres a reason for its price and a reason for its reputation. 1 order of BBQ costs $20-$23 and feeds 2 people. The meat is cooked for you (esp if you're a westener because you might burn yourselves;)). Each restaurant serves their own trademark side dishes. You have to eat the meat with the side dishes; You wrap the meat and a spoonful of rice and some veggies in the leafy korean lettuce they give you. That is how Koreans eat it and thats how you get the most out of Korean BBQ.
Try it and if you still complain, you'd be the first

Ninjahedge
April 18th, 2007, 08:52 AM
The largest and most well known korean bakery in K-Town is called Koryodong. The ball-like pastries filled with sweet red bean paste is called Jjim Bbang or Paht Bbang.



Wow. You must have been to K-Town once. There are a dozen sushi restaurants and they have some of the top ratings in New York

Wow, no.

I have been there at least 20 times. Just because EVERY FRIGGING ASIAN RESTAURANT in the city now has a Sushi Bar does NOT make it the Sushi capital.




Korean BBQ is offered first on almost every menu in K-Town. The reason is simply because it is the most in demand. The BBQ is not simple at all. Theres a reason for its price and a reason for its reputation. 1 order of BBQ costs $20-$23 and feeds 2 people.

Um, no it doesn't.

I have had it 4 or 5 times, and I have seen it at most places. It barely feeds me, a 6' 170lb male. And how is it not simple? You have a brazier in the middle of your table, they provide the plate of raw meat and sometimes an assortment of veggies (including read-leaf to wrap it up). You grill it, put it on the leaf and eat it.

Real complicated.

And yes, I already know you put the veggies and rice on with it.

And let me guess, the sauce they provide at the same time as the meat is for the meat? :rolleyes:

Not all whiteys are cultural idiots CBR.


The meat is cooked for you (esp if you're a westener because you might burn yourselves;)). Each restaurant serves their own trademark side dishes. You have to eat the meat with the side dishes; You wrap the meat and a spoonful of rice and some veggies in the leafy korean lettuce they give you. That is how Koreans eat it and thats how you get the most out of Korean BBQ.

I appreciate the help, but I am not an idiot. The price is very high for what ammounts to a novelty. The food tastes OK, nothing special, and the portions are small for the price.

I have done teh wrap, eaten every side dish there is and all I can say is that if you are going to KT, just get some Kalbi Tang (sp) and a scallion/seafood pancake. :p

Try it and if you still complain, you'd be the first

Um, no I wouldn't.

clubBR
April 18th, 2007, 08:59 AM
Wow, no.

I have been there at least 20 times. Just because EVERY FRIGGING ASIAN RESTAURANT in the city now has a Sushi Bar does NOT make it the Sushi capital.





Um, no it doesn't.

I have had it 4 or 5 times, and I have seen it at most places. It barely feeds me, a 6' 170lb male. And how is it not simple? You have a brazier in the middle of your table, they provide the plate of raw meat and sometimes an assortment of veggies (including read-leaf to wrap it up). You grill it, put it on the leaf and eat it.

Real complicated.

And yes, I already know you put the veggies and rice on with it.

And let me guess, the sauce they provide at the same time as the meat is for the meat? :rolleyes:

Not all whiteys are cultural idiots CBR.



I appreciate the help, but I am not an idiot. The price is very high for what ammounts to a novelty. The food tastes OK, nothing special, and the portions are small for the price.

I have done teh wrap, eaten every side dish there is and all I can say is that if you are going to KT, just get some Kalbi Tang (sp) and a scallion/seafood pancake. :p


Um, no I wouldn't.
LOL ok buddy


get some Kalbi Tang (sp) and a scallion/seafood pancake. :p
Good choice!

Ninjahedge
April 18th, 2007, 09:26 AM
I ain't no idjut!!!!!

;)

Ninjahedge
April 18th, 2007, 01:42 PM
Speak of the devil....


We are going to Pho tonight!

clubBR
April 18th, 2007, 08:07 PM
Speak of the devil....


We are going to Pho tonight!
Pho is Vietnamese, but i bet you already knew that

Ninjahedge
April 19th, 2007, 08:51 AM
I do now.

Funny how Vietnamese has Shabu-Shabu tho, ain't it? ;)

MidtownGuy
April 19th, 2007, 11:36 AM
The largest and most well known korean bakery in K-Town is called Koryodong. The ball-like pastries filled with sweet red bean paste is called Jjim Bbang or Paht Bbang.

Thanks, gotta get me some this week!

brianac
October 18th, 2008, 05:15 AM
Living In | Koreatown

Exotic Flavor, Beyond Just the Food

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/10/19/realestate/19living_600.jpg Michael Falco for The New York Times
VERTICAL VILLAGE The Main Street of Koreatown, West 32nd between Fifth and Broadway, is packed with kimchi and karaoke joints, Internet cafes and spas. The housing inventory is equally tight. More Photos > (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/10/16/realestate/20081019LIVINGIN_index.html)

By DEBORAH BALDWIN
Published: October 17, 2008

VISIT Koreatown for the first time on a Saturday night, when West 32nd Street turns into a neon-lighted playground for clubbers and noshers, and you may wonder where it has been hiding all these years.

Multimedia

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http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/images/photo/2008/10/19/20081019LIVINGIN/20081019LIVINGIN-B.JPGSlide Show (http://javascript<b></b>:pop_me_up2('http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2008/10/17/realestate/19livi_map.html', '419_617', 'width=419,height=617,location=no,scrollbars=yes,t oolbars=no,resizable=yes'))Living in Koreatown (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/10/16/realestate/20081019LIVINGIN_index.html)

Once you have seen it in lights, you may be tempted to settle in. And you won’t be alone. Before the credit chill descended on New York, high-end developers, hoteliers and home buyers were converging here, too, bumping up values along Fifth Avenue, rejuvenating historic residential towers on Herald Square, and helping to turn this pathway between the Empire State Building (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/e/empire_state_building/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) and Penn Station into a destination.

Bordered by Fifth Avenue and the Avenue of the Americas and 30th and 36th Streets, and a short hop to Madison Square Park and Union Square, Koreatown is a remnant of the old textile district — neither Chelsea nor Murray Hill, neither Midtown nor downtown.

Few would describe the area’s odd mix of Korean lounges, Irish bars, sooty office buildings, vintage architecture and discount clothing stores as closely knit. But for some newcomers, prying out its secrets is part of the allure.

“It’s a really strange animal,” said Joe Testone, who left Greenwich Village for an atmospheric 1890 building at Fifth and 30th three years ago. “I never thought I would love it as much as I do.”

Mr. Testone, who has made a hobby of tracking down the area’s mansard roofs, Beaux-Arts ornamentation and copper trim, added, “You really do have to look up.”

True, the Empire State Building long ago took over this stretch of Fifth, filling the vacuum at street level with souvenir shops and rivers of tourists. But never mind the seedy storefronts, Koreatown fans say; pay attention to the wonderful old dowager buildings left behind by the celebrity retailers and hotelkeepers of the early 1900s.

B. Altman’s 1906 Fifth Avenue beauty, filling the block between 34th and 35th, still has its voluptuous glass canopies and French limestone facade (and is now a public library and a City University of New York (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/c/city_university_of_new_york/index.html?inline=nyt-org) building). The plainer 1910 building across the street, at 372 Fifth Avenue, once held Best & Company (and is now a co-op).

With Chelsea and Gramercy Park hemming it in, Koreatown has come up in the world, acquiring an affiliation with SoFi (South Fifth Avenue) and NoMad (north of Madison Square).

Yet prices are lower than in Chelsea or Gramercy Park, said Scott Elyanow, a senior associate broker at Citi Habitats — while the scenery is still fine. “Walking down Fifth,” he said, “you have a quintessential view of New York with the Flatiron Building.”

And as for cab fare, it is expendable, because Koreatown is “right smack in the middle of everything,” as Mark Hamrick, who lives at 372 Fifth Avenue, put it.

The vagaries of census tracts make it impossible to pin down the area’s demographics, but a slightly larger area had a few thousand residents and was about 47 percent white, 46 percent Asian and 4 percent black, according to an analysis of 2000 census data by Susan Weber-Stoger, a Queens College (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/q/queens_college/index.html?inline=nyt-org) sociologist.

Montgomery Lee landed at the two-year-old Tower 31, a Costas Kondylis-designed apartment building at 9 West 31st Street, after self-imposed exile from TriBeCa. He says he didn’t do it for the money — he did it for the commute.

Only later did Mr. Lee, who can now walk to work, stumble on the exotic groceries, handmade dumplings and buzzing vertical village that has shot up along West 32nd Street.

“I’m Korean, so it is kind of convenient,” he said. “The nightlife is stealthy. It’s not out in the open — you have to know about the third floor.”


WHAT YOU’LL FIND

The rakish Main Street — West 32nd between Fifth and Broadway — has so many kimchi and karaoke joints, Internet cafes and all-night spas that they have started stacking up, Seoul-style.

In years past, Korean entrepreneurs typically commuted from Queens (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/queens/?inline=nyt-geo), but with the arrival of new condos, more Koreans are moving in, said Stacy S. Yoon, an agent at CiCi Realty. She added, “Lots of Korean nationals also want to invest in property in Manhattan (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/manhattan/?inline=nyt-geo) either for their kids, who come to New York to study, or for long-term investment, or both.”

Europeans are shopping for property as well, said Richard Bernstein, a vice president of the Corcoran Group. “They like an urban city feel.” As do locals, he added. “People really do want to be close to work.”

Still, the housing inventory is small, with only a handful of properties for sale at a given time, Ms. Yoon and other real estate agents said.

Co-ops include the Wilbraham, at 284 Fifth Avenue (with an entrance on West 30th). Built as a bachelors’ residence in 1890, it is a designated landmark, with its lobby murals still intact. New condos include the soaring 325 Fifth Avenue high-rise, which has amenities like a gym, a pool, a private screening room and a children’s play area.

Rentals are easier to find. Herald Towers, a 690-unit complex overlooking Herald Square, was built in 1912 as a hotel. Newer buildings include the 34-story Magellan at 35 West 33rd Street.

Some complain about the lack of big grocery stores, saying they have to hike over to a Whole Foods on Seventh Avenue at 24th Street, or to Gristedes on Third Avenue at 32nd. For others, of course, that’s an excuse to go out to eat.


WHAT YOU’LL PAY

Early this year, co-op apartments in older buildings were selling for about $900 a square foot, while newer co-ops and condos went for as much as $1,400 a square foot, reflecting “pretty much a sea change” from lower prices in previous years, said Michael J. Franco, an associate broker at the Corcoran Group.


Now, of course, prices are slipping.

Mr. Franco recently lowered the asking price on a three-bedroom two-bath penthouse co-op with a terrace, at 372 Fifth Avenue, from $1.775 million to $1.645 million, or $1,175 a square foot (not including the terrace).

A one-bedroom at Herald Towers rents for $2,700 a month, a leasing agent there said. Studios at the Magellan are advertised at $2,460, while a two-bedroom two-bath unit at 325 Fifth Avenue is being advertised at $8,000 a month.


WHAT TO DO

If you’ve never made your way to the top of the Empire State Building, now’s your chance. Just be prepared for a wait (see esbnyc.com (http://esbnyc.com/)). Continue your architectural tour down Fifth Avenue, where the quirky skyline includes a former carriage factory, at No. 335, with arched windows four stories high. Turn west on 32nd Street and you’ll catch a landmark at No. 17 — a 1904 Beaux-Arts facade — and, at No. 49, the French Renaissance-style Martinique, which was designed by Henry J. Hardenbergh, the architect of the Plaza Hotel (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/p/plaza_hotel/index.html?inline=nyt-org) and the Dakota.

You can watch dumplings being made in the window at Mandoo Bar, 2 West 32nd Street, or try Kom Tang, nearby at No. 32, described by its manager as the oldest Korean restaurant on the street. Fried chicken and beer, a popular combo in Koreatown, can be had at Forte Baden Baden, a sports bar one flight up at 28 West 32nd Street. If the hour is even later, climb to the third and fourth floors at 11 West 32nd, and unwind at Maru lounge.


THE SCHOOLS

There are no elementary schools within Koreatown, but ones nearby include No. 33, where 67 percent of fourth graders showed proficiency in reading and 96 percent in math last year, and No. 51, where proficiency levels were 58 percent in reading and 95 percent in math. (Citywide, the averages were 61 percent and 80 percent.)

At Junior High School 104, 65 percent of eighth graders showed proficiency in reading and 73 percent in math, versus 43 and 60 citywide.

Older students can apply to any school in the city; one option near Koreatown is the High School for Fashion Industries, which last year had SAT averages of 419 in reading and 416 in both math and verbal, versus 438, 460 and 433 citywide.

On Saturdays, some families send their children to Korean-language schools. There is one in Lower Manhattan, the New York Broadway Korean School, at 610 East 12th Street.


THE COMMUTE

Herald Square sits over a noodle soup’s worth of subway lines, including the B, D, F, Q, N, R, V and W, and there’s a PATH station there, too. Buses run along 32nd and 34th Streets, Broadway, the Avenue of the Americas and Seventh Avenue.


THE HISTORY

In the 1890s, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission says, the area was known for its chic shops, theaters, clubs and residences. The Empire State Building went up in 1931, casting its shadow on what was by then a largely commercial area, and by the 1950s, this Midtown South zone had acquired the scrappy air immortalized by Michael Chabon (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/michael_chabon/index.html?inline=nyt-per) in “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.” In the late 1970s, Korean business owners led the redevelopment of West 32nd Street; in 1995, Broadway between West 31st and 32nd was officially named Korea Way.

[URL]http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/19/realestate/19livi.html?pagewanted=1&ref=realestate

Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

justfabulouslyme
October 24th, 2008, 10:44 AM
I love Korea Town. Unlike China Town which to me represents the very worst of Chinese culture, it smells, its overcrowded, its dirty, the goods are mostly cheap knock-offs of European and American brands, making things even worse are the crowds of Long Island and New Jersey Tourists. Korea Town on the other hand is a showcase of Korean culture, the goods are authentic, and the architecture and streetscape are all held to the highest degree, furthermore tourists are far and few in between, it is a Korean showcase for Koreans, although others enjoy it as well. I love going to a sushi buffet in K-Town and then hitting up a karaoke bar nearby, Karaoke Duet, which is actually Japanese, but it’s keeping with the Asian-theme.

I agree.

I love Koreatowns (Northern Boulevard also comes to mind), but I really can't stand Chinese neighborhoods. Not a racist thing at all, but to me they're much dirtier than any average neighborhood.


Speak of the devil....


We are going to Pho tonight!

LOLOL

This is ironic! You just got finished schooling someone on your being cultured, and then you think Pho is Korean?

Ninjahedge
October 27th, 2008, 10:00 AM
Are you interpreting what I am saying out of context?

Do you want me to list the restaurants on Korean Alley on, what is it, 32nd and tell you what I mean, or are you just tooling me?

I THINK the restaurant we went to was Pho-32, but I do not remember. I realize that "Pho" in and of itself is not Korean, but I believe the restaurant we went to, by the name "pho" is located on Korean Alley and is therefore funny that we were arguing about all this stuff when I was going to have dinner over there that night! ;)

BTW, saying stuff about Korean Food and talking about Pho is more oxymoronic than Ironic... :p ;)

justfabulouslyme
November 7th, 2008, 10:49 AM
I must have misread your post then. I could have sworn you were arguing about the authenticity of some Korean food, and then said "speak of the Devil! I'm going for Pho tonight" as if you assumed Pho were Korean.

My mistake. :cool:

Ninjahedge
November 7th, 2008, 01:51 PM
I just remember kimchee and scallion pancakes.

If that was Italian, I think someone needs to talk to the chef!!! ;)

CowJazz
November 30th, 2008, 01:32 AM
I recently stayed in K-town on my last visit to the City. Played billiards at Space Billiards club at 4:30 a.m. They have American and Korean billiards. It's on the 12th floor...cool place.

Bronxbombers
December 2nd, 2008, 10:44 PM
I recently stayed in K-town on my last visit to the City. Played billiards at Space Billiards club at 4:30 a.m. They have American and Korean billiards. It's on the 12th floor...cool place.Thanks very very for all of the pictures of New York City's Koreatown. When I will be in New York City I will go sight seeing in Koreatown. I have been in Koreatown in Los Angeles,CA. I am from L.A.

brianac
February 21st, 2010, 07:34 AM
Bergdorf-Goodman’s Awl (http://www.observer.com/2010/commercial-observer/bergdorf-goodman%E2%80%99s-awl)

By Emily Geminder (http://www.observer.com/author/emily-geminder/)
February 19, 2010 | 4:35 p.m

http://www.observer.com/files/full/32%20west%2032%20-%20credit%20barry%20lewis.jpg
Barry Lewis.

Koreatown unfolds like a blip in the consciousness of midtown. It's where the city abruptly departs from its staid brick assonance and, for a span of roughly three short blocks, digresses into a frenzy of barbecue and lights. Koreatown has somehow at once managed to wedge itself smack in the middle of everything and remain largely invisible. Hovering at the southern fringe of midtown, not quite Murray Hill, not quite Chelsea, it's a cartographic no man's land hiding in plain sight.

By day, the neighborhood—if you can call it a neighborhood—is a condensed jumble of signs, all clamoring for attention in two languages and about a thousand different shades of neon yellow. But the real Koreatown happens at night. On weekends, West 32nd Street turns into a 24-hour playground, a kind of noir wonderland where barbecues and spas and karaoke joints all stack up on top of each other and nothing ever closes.

You have to really peel back the street's glittering confetti to take in the buildings sitting mute behind it all, the anonymous brick and limestone pasted with the sediment of accumulated decades. If you can see past the blinking lights, past the signs, the six-story building at 32 West 32nd Street reveals its past in a faintly emblazoned facade: "Bergdorf Building."

The name "Bergdorf," of course, would go on to become half of that most lavish, ladies-who-lunch department store, where Mahattanites not only accrued the regalia of a moneyed lifestyle but luxuriated in the marble-encased trappings of money itself. But, in 1899, Bergdorf's was an unremarkable side-street tailor shop at a truly remarkable time in tailoring.

With the rise of manufacturing, methods of production and lifestyles both were speeding up, racing toward a streamlined industrial horizon. Caught in the middle of it all was Herman Bergdorf, a tailor with more luck than talent, and a greater passion for wine than for his craft. It took Edwin Goodman, his ambitious young apprentice, to recognize the bend that manufacturing had thrown into history, a bend he leaned on heavily to refashion the women's ready-made garment industry.

The manufacturing industry, which transformed the garment district more than a century ago, has more recently transformed it again—this time by all but disappearing. It wasn't a sudden disappearance, and it was one that was slow to sink in, perhaps because the garment industry has always been something of an invisible one. It didn't require much room, its cutting rooms and zipper shops cropping up in brownstones, boutiques, sweatshops, excess office space, just about anywhere at all. It filled up the margins of midtown, propelled by the largely invisible workforce that always fills those margins—New York's steady stream of immigrant labor.

But, in recent decades, Manhattan rents and cheap overseas production have whittled away at the Garment District's edges. It shrunk northward, even as the city's zoning protections limited the conversion of factory space into more profitable offices. (The protections themselves may soon vanish, as protestations of landlords grow louder.)

At 32 West 32nd Street, the climb to the K-pop blaring karaoke bar—past the barbecue, the noodle shop, the eyelash salon—takes you up rasping wooden stairs, likely unchanged since their tailor-shop days. With a notable exception: The walls have been painted with cartoon Korean children, cavorting in the dim light like mutant hieroglyphs from one of Herman Bergdorf's drunken dreams. It's one of those strange New York corners where you can't quite tell if the hasty brushstrokes of the present are infringing on the past, or if it's the other way around.

FOR MUCH OF THE 19th century, ready-made clothing was principally the attire of slaves, miners and sailors. But nearing the century's end, the advent of the sewing machine and post-Civil War distribution networks set the burgeoning garment industry ablaze with energy. The 1890s saw the rise of women's suits and small concurrent shifts in women's social status, as middle-class women led increasingly public lives that left less time for elaborate dress fittings. Manhattan's garment industry seized on the distinguishing factors that long remained its mainstay: a position as a port city with strong ties to European fashion markets and a convenient supply of cheap labor. By 1899, New York produced 65 percent of the nation's ready-made women's wear.

At the time, Herman Bergdorf, an Alsatian immigrant, maintained a middling tailor shop along the Ladies Mile stretch of Fifth Avenue. His shop might have continued to languish in relative obscurity had his sister not been employed by a prominent society lady, the wife of William Goadby Loew, who once admired one of Bergdorf's suits and ordered one for herself.

That was all it took to make "Berfdorf suits" a sudden rage, and Bergdorf found himself suddenly overwhelmed by orders. To compensate, he took on the promising 23-year-old Edwin Goodman, a move that also, according to Booton Herndon's Bergdorf's on the Plaza, freed him to spend more time in Brubacker's wine saloon.

By 1901, Goodman had raised enough funds to buy into the business, and he convinced Bergdorf they should join the migration of fashionable shops up Fifth Avenue. But while Goodman was away on his honeymoon, Bergdorf instead opted for a cheaper side-street location, the 32 West 32nd Street address he christened the Bergdorf Building. According to city records and the Office for Metropolitan History, Bergdorf paid $132,000 for the structure, built by Bruno W. Berger.

Returning from his honeymoon and expecting to find a fashionable Fifth Avenue storefront, Goodman was infuriated by Bergdorf's choice of real estate, and the two men parted ways soon after. Goodman bought out Bergdorf, who retired to Paris, and the operation remained in the cramped 32nd Street salon only until 1914. But in its decade or so there, Goodman became a fastidious scholar of a growing movement in women's wear: the trend toward less restrictive fashions. To the popular hobble skirt—a literally named garment to which The New York Times attributed several injuries and, in 1911, one death—Goodman added a box pleat that in the knee allowed for a slightly less inhibited step. The jabot, a choking, boned neckpiece, he did away with altogether.

At the time, most of the manufacturers that tailors relied on worked out of their homes, according to Daniel Soyer in A Coat of Many Colors, often employing entire families in packed, squalid conditions. The boom of the garment industry was dependent on the sudden influx of immigrant labor that began arriving in New York in the 1880s. Eastern European Jews, primarily unmarried young women, made up the majority of the laborers, followed by Italians, also often young women. The young, mostly female workforce was at the forefront of major labor battles that, in many ways, radically altered the industry. At the same time, garment manufacturing gained a reputation as a "mobile industry"—a reputation that, by and large, has stuck—in part to elude accountability for its labor practices.

While the workforce changed, fluctuating with shifts in immigration policy and demographics, the garment industry remained fairly stable until the 1970s, when fashion retailers that had relied on local manufacturers began widening their production networks into foreign countries. Garment manufacturing became a transnationally mobile industry, as advances in communications and transport facilitated highly specialized, coordinated units operating in multiple countries at once.

Around the same time, changes in immigration policy allowed Koreans to enter the U.S. in unprecedented numbers. Small Korean sweatshops began appearing on West 32nd Street, mostly subcontracting work from Seventh Avenue manufacturers and employing a largely Latino workforce. By 1989, there were 1,500 Korean-owned garment factories in New York, concentrated predominantly in the garment district and Flushing, according to the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. But the midtown industry was still largely invisible to most New Yorkers and still dependent on questionable labor practices. In 1988, at a building just down the block from 32 West 32nd Street, the Associated Press reported the collapse of a fire escape as garment workers fled INS agents.

As manufacturing is displaced both within the New York area—many Korean sweatshops have moved to Queens and New Jersey—and globally, Korean groceries and restaurants crowd onto West 32nd Street at higher and higher densities, transforming the patch of molting textile industry into a kinetic spurt of motion. You could say it's the time-told New York immigration story: A largely invisible community is sucked up into the city's labor market, eventually appropriating and reappropriating its power structures and finally earning its mainstream cultural credibility—usually in the form of culinary appreciation and usually in a neighborhood where few members of the community actually live.

That's one way of looking at it. But it's also about a city of transplants, its odd collisions and obliterations, its reinventions. It's about the endless hemming and restitching such a city entails.

egeminder@observer.com

Copyright The New York Observer.

brianac
February 21st, 2010, 08:21 AM
29 January 2008

But Where's Goodman? (http://lostnewyorkcity.blogspot.com/2008/01/but-wheres-goodman.html)


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_nswHPYi_dEw/R5_W_farMfI/AAAAAAAAB2k/LBJtb6Cc1t4/s400/bergdorf0001.JPG (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_nswHPYi_dEw/R5_W_farMfI/AAAAAAAAB2k/LBJtb6Cc1t4/s1600-h/bergdorf0001.JPG)
In the middle of noisome Koreatown, at 32 W. 32nd Street, if you crane you neck a bit, you'll see written on the cornice the very posh name of "Bergdorf." Anyone who's lived in New York City for a while knows that name, but associates it with the high hat crowd on Fifth Avenue. This narrow structure was the famed department store's second location, it's first being on Fifth around 19th.

The reason it just says Bergdorf is because Edwin Goodman, while a prized employee and partial partner, had not yet bought out the high-living Frenchman Herman Bergdorf, who liked drinking wine a lot more than working. Goodman had convinced the distracted Bergdorf that the shop, if it were to survive, had to follow the fashionable crowd as it moved north. But he left for his honeymoon in Europe, allowing Bergdorf to choose the new location on his own. Rather than take a Fifth Avenue address, Bergdorf thought he'd save some change by opting for a cheaper side street. Goodman hit the roof when he found out, and soon gave Herman the heave-ho. Bergdorf was more than happy to take the money retire and move back to Paris.

It's a mangy old building now. Amazing it's survived all these years, cornice and all.

http://lostnewyorkcity.blogspot.com/2008/01/but-wheres-goodman.html

meesalikeu
June 7th, 2010, 10:39 PM
we go to cho dang gol on w35th every time we go to macys or shopping around there. they have great panchan, the "free" small plates while your order is cooking. i also like the pancakes and the housemade tofu. skip the bbq they have but it isnt a specialty.

if you want to carry on with shenanigans its next to a fun karaoke spot and the metro hotel which has a great rooftop bar if you want a closeup view of the esb!!

JanetJay
July 1st, 2010, 08:00 PM
I only ate in Korea Town once and it was great. Never explored it though. The piccis are awesome.

archnyer
July 5th, 2010, 03:37 PM
K girls are some of the best. I lived in Seoul from around 78 - 83 and dated two Korean Air hostesses. Both were great girls.