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.
Making international cuisine accessible to everyone requires a willingness to adapt recipes without sacrificing distinctive flavors. Kori Tribeca aims to transplant the foods of Seoul to Manhattan, and the New York Times praised its success in creating a menu that is "up-to-date and appealing to Americans but tied to Korean traditions."
Not only do iconic ingredients such as kimchi and Korean-style short ribs populate the menu but the pages also feature authentic cooking techniques. Bibimbap—a mixture of rice, sautéed vegetables, and proteins including pork belly, grilled eel, or organic tofu—arrives at tables in a sizzling stone bowl that continues to cook the dish tableside while diners enjoy the sounds and aromas.
The dining room takes a similar approach, melding small yet prominent aspects of Korean culture into a thoroughly modern setting. A handful of Korean musical instruments and three panels of Eastern Asian artwork adorn the walls. These accents add a distinctive character to the room's otherwise sleek combination of white brick work and black high-backed booth seating.
KuKu Canteen's cooks understand that their fresh Asian fare influenced by Japanese and Korean cooking may appear adventurous to some. That's why the friendly counter staff makes sure to guide their guests toward the right dish through regular, gluten-free, or vegetarian menus available to accommodate special dietary needs.
Regardless of which menu you're referencing, you can expect to find vegetables brought in fresh daily and a number of sauces, dressings, and marinades prepared in-house. Though it's hard to go wrong with any of KuKu Canteen's dishes, the cooks recommend starting out with steamed pork or shrimp dumplings and following those up with their wildly popular kimchi fried rice.
Shanghai Mong's eclectic menu of flavorful soups, texture-rich pho, and shareable starter plates entices appetites with broad-spectrum cooking styles served up 24 hours a day. Like a hot air-balloon expedition during the rainy season, the bill of fare takes diners on a whirlwind tour of Asia, with detours by colorful Vietnamese and Korean noodle dishes before dropping by China's fried rice and tenderloin chop steak in spicy szechuan sauce. Plates entice the eye with vibrantly colored spices coating the crispy duck, glazed with a sweet soy-plum sauce, and Mara beef with fresh green beans and bright jalapeños. As diners clack onyx-hued chopsticks or clink glasses of authentic Chinese liquor, deep red accents cocoon guests in a soothing ambience, as flickering chandeliers cast a low, golden light on the feastings and set a stage for finger-puppet operas.