Lined with busy shops bearing Korean-language signs, Palisades Park's Broad Avenue is the "epicenter of life in Korean New Jersey," according to food blog Serious Eats. Nestled on this bustling strip is Hanbat Restaurant, the sister location of the Michelin-recommended Manhattan eatery of the same name. Hanbat's menu reveals its chefs' commitment to traditional Korean cuisine: iconic ingredients like kimchi and L.A. kalbi or marinated beef short ribs help chefs add their distinctive flavors to select dishes, and the barbecue section spotlights everything from grilled brisket to duck. The dishes' presentation also adds to this deeply rooted sense of authenticity: in addition to serving rice in hot stone bowls, chefs also stir-fry a couple of entrees tableside, incorporating pork belly, vegetables, and a choice of seafood into the mix.
Instead of sticking to the dishes of one cuisine, Chef B. Darius of Cuisine 16 chose to use his diverse set of cooking skills to make dishes from throughout the world. The resulting menu is a mix of the nation's signature plates, including the cumin-sprinkled meatballs of Morocco and the tilapia rubbed in Creole spices. Some of his dishes even blend the flavors of multiple cuisines. Fried chicken comes slathered in spicy Korean barbecue sauce, and bananas are replaced by plantains in the creamy plantains foster. Chef B. Darius welcomes guests to order a la carte to sample one favorite flavor or be order tapas so they can mix and match flavors without going on a weird game show.
Green Symphony's chefs cull zesty ingredients to craft body-nourishing platters and Korean cuisine. Appetites arise from slumber with breakfast offerings such as organic oatmeal splashed with açai fruit purée. Sandwich sages construct breadstacks from South Asian–inspired tempeh, then top their creations with the finest blue, feta, or brie cheese found beyond Mickey Mouse's pantry. A hefty dessert menu gilds sweet teeth with pear-ginger bars and homemade muffins, and bodies find a healthy boost with juice blends including the Cleanser, in which cranberries, carrots, and beets canoodle with barley greens and aloe juice.
At Hanjoo, tradition crosses paths with modern innovation. The menu is filled with Korean classics, such as bibimbap, cold noodle soup, and?of course?barbecue. But the eatery is sleek, with exposed-brick walls, polished-wood banquettes, and a high-tech crystal cooktop on every grill. Behind this is an owner who's passionate about food, yet unafraid of trying something new.
About the Co-Owner: Felicia Park does not bat an eye at the suggestion that the restaurant business was her destiny. She grew up at her father's knee in the kitchen, always asking him, "What's in that?" At 18, she was finally allowed to work in his restaurant, first as a cashier and hostess, then in the kitchen, and finally as manager.
In 2005, she took over the original Han Joo location in Flushing, which was already known for its cold noodle soups. But Korean BBQ was in Felicia's blood, so she put it on the menu. "I was used to it," she says, "and I knew it was getting popular." So popular, in fact, that she and a partner opened the second location in St. Marks in 2012.
The Crystal Grill: While most Korean BBQ spots are equipped with metal or stone grills, Felicia heard that crystal grills were gaining popularity in Korea. So a few years ago, she ordered some for both Hanjoos. A novelty at the time, they inspired a slightly awestruck writeup from Serious Eats. But the flat, translucent surfaces are more than just a conversation piece: crystal is actually quite practical for grilling. For one, the food cooks at an angle, so that extra fat from pork belly or duck (Felicia's two favorites) runs off the into a tray. Meats also cook more evenly, without leaving BBQ residue.
Don't Miss: * Kimchi: Kimchi is Felicia's mother's specialty, and the kitchen borrows heavily from her recipe when crafting theirs. * Pork belly: On the grill, this is hands-down Felicia's favorite, although she names the duck a close second. * Mool neng-myun: This cold soup?as well as the other three on the menu?are among the eatery's specialties, according to Felicia. Read more about mool neng-myun on the Groupon Guide.
A hip and colorful destination, Mariachi Bar and Restaurant supplies its guests with everything from dancing to stir fry. Serving a menu of pan-Asian cuisine, the kitchen fries and sautes ribs, rice cakes, and giant octopi for visitors to snack on before they hit the bar for pitchers of beer. Frequent events light up the dance floor, and a nightly happy hour held seven days a week offers specials on drinks and snacks.