The Bulgogi Cart on 49th St. (Finally, a proper review…)

Who says 4 posts about a mediocre Bulgogi cart is overkill??? (Clearly you didn’t see me the week Chipotle opened in my building) Well, I said on Monday I would post more info about the food- but I promise this is the last one (until the $1 “bulgogi sandwiches” arrive in a few weeks).  I wanted to post some real pictures of the cart, and tell you a little bit about what they’re doing along with a proper +/-.  Despite the $1 Bulgogi Sandwiches not being available, what they are serving is a pretty amazing deal.

They have Bulgogi (Korean BBQ’d beef) or Chicken, served with rice, & salad for $5.  But here’s the real kicker… they throw in a drink for free!  (Soda or water)  It is a pretty amazing deal.  The menu has spicy and non-spicy versions of each of the two dishes posted, but if you order it “spicy” they just give you a cup of red hot sauce to pour over it yourself.  They also give you a very small cup of kimchi (fermented cabbage), which is a real nice touch.

What I ordered, a picture of the not yet available $1 bulgogi sandwiches, and the +/- after the jump…

The first weird thing I noticed about the meal was the rice.  It is yellow.  I’ve never had yellow rice at a Korean restaurant before.  Very strange.  It would have been forgivable if the rice hadn’t been crunchy (and not in that good Dol Sot Bi Bim Bap kind of way).  I’m not sure if they undercooked it, or if they scraped it off the side of the pan- but it was pretty bad.  Of course, it was their first real day of business, so I’m sure they will iron out that kink as time goes on.  The bulgogi had a nice flavor, but it was not chopped up very well, so it highlighted the poor quality of the meat.  (Bulgogi is made with fatty meat, but you need to chop it up into little pieces to mask that.  They didn’t do this very well).  There was also no onions or scallions, which was a bummer. 

The salad was pretty good, and the kimchi was a welcome addition.  They don’t give you a ton of it, but it was of a pretty good quality.  The hot sauce I wasn’t so into.  It looked like the red bean paste sauce you get with Bi Bim Bap (Gochu jang), but it had more of a red chili pepper flavor- like something you would get at a BBQ joint.  It was really spicy, and really strange.  I had one bite with the sauce, and then tossed it.  If you like your food super spicy, you may like the sauce.  I believe it is called ssamjang.  I’ve never had it at a Korean restaurant before, but apparently it is authentic. 

All in all, for $5 it’s a great deal (especially with the free soda)- but I can’t help but thinking Kim’s Aunt Kitchen Cart on 46th St. had better Bulgogi.  Sure you don’t get a free soda or kimchi, and it’s an extra $1- but sometimes that extra buck is worth it (you get white rice, and there are scallions in the bulgogi).  I haven’t given up yet though… it’s only their first week, and I’m sure it will get better.  PLUS I have high hopes for the $1 Bulgogi Sandwiches.  I’m sure they don’t fill you up, but from the looks of the picture, I’m thinking it may end up being the greatest snack of all time.




  • $5 gets you bulgogi, rice, salad, kimchi and a free soda (or water).  A better deal cannot be had in all of Midtown.
  • The flavor of the bulgogi is spot on.
  • The kimchi is good, and a nice addition (although they don’t give you that much)
  • If you like your food super spicy, they give you ssamjang on the side to add to your bulgogi


  • The rice was terrible (but it was their first day, so it will probably get better.  If you try it, feel free to comment on the progress below)
  • The low quality of the meat was highlighted by the fact that they didn’t cut up the bulgogi well enough
  • The hot sauce is not the sauce they give you with Bi Bim Bap so be careful if you are not into red chili pepper spiciness

The Infamous Disappearing Bulgogi Cart, 49th St. btw. 6 & 7th


  • After reading about the cart yesterday, I decided to try it out since I am in the same bldg. I thought it was pretty damn tasty. I agree about needing to chop the meat more but expecting low quality beef anyhow (hey, $5!), it didn’t bother me so much. I agree it needs scallions – cause I like scallions. I like spicy so I used all the sauce, yummy. The yellow rice was weird, but mine was not crunchy. The salad was good and crisp. The included soda is a nice kicker. I didn’t get the kimchi! Overall, I’ll be back – but I hope someone gives a copy of the initial review to these guys so they can fine tune the product. 3/5

  • I would advise to hold off on going today (1/24/07, after 1:30). They’re out of salad, and my plate of half rice, half meat looks a little sad. But there are onions in the meat. Also, the hot chili paste is quite good!

  • The sandwich looks like those uncrustables, but with bulgogi! And LOTS of tomatoes (I love tomatoes, tho not sure about with bulgogi). Yummmm cheap eats! Sending this link on to my friends!

  • Yvo, you must not be very experienced in the way of the cart if you think you’re getting 8 slices of tomato with a $1 bul gogi sandwich…

  • hey bulgogi is not supposed 2 be chopped up, where’d u hear that. if it was chopped up it, u prolly got the leftovers after the real pieces were gone. as for ssamjjang, that is made with soy bean paste and not that spicy at all. it doesn’t look like ssamjang in the pic.

  • Finally got around to trying the bulgogi today — it was very good, and the rice was fine. Plus they threw in a stick of minty gum, I guess to kill kimchee office breath.

  • Bulgogi sandwiches have arrived!!! It breaks my heart to say it, but… they’re not so good. Allow me to describe: it’s a scoop of beef bulgogi placed between two slices of white bread (generic american white bread), and placed in a wierd UFO-shaped sandwich press that somehow makes them come out round. I had hoped they would be baked, even fried, but alas… just pressed. Think of it as a Korean panini. With white bread. It doesn’t make much sense, does it? It didn’t make much sense in my mouth either… the bread was soft and crumbly and didn’t hold up very well against the meat. & so the wait ends in disappointment… though the staff (down to 3 today!) is still insanely friendly.

  • PS – bulgogi sandwich does not come with tomato.

  • Hold your tongue!!! It is not as bad as you describe… I too had the infamous Bulgogi sandwich- and will post about later in the week. Stay tuned for the pics… (you ruined my surprise!!!)

  • I love your website. I live for your reviews.
    I personally didn’t dig this cart. Bulgogi was basically ground beef with hot sauce squirted on top over white rice. I can totally make that myself in 20 minutes flat at home with my hand behind my back and one eye closed. LOL. Seriously, I didn’t see what the big deal was about. Maybe I got a bad day.
    The guy at the cart was super friendly. Worth handing over your $4/5 bucks to support the nice guy!

  • They stopped giving the free soda! And the “free Kimchi”, turned into “free sample of Kimchi” while they offer you to buy the larger, non-sample, version…
    So does that mean that the free kimchi will also go away??? Without the soda and kimchi this will not sound as a great deal anymore…

  • Finally I tried the $1 sandwich. It was the same boring ground beef I got the other day in the lunch meal- in whole wheat bread pressed in a sandwhich press. I asked for spicy and it was bland as can be. I dub thee Korean hamburger.
    I agree, though, the man who tries to drum up business there, while his lady cooks inside, is super nice.

    They even printed out menus handouts. Like you need a menu to promote a choice of 4 items.

    I will not be returning to this cart.
    But it was fun to try. Thanks for mentioning it!!

  • I’ve been going on and off for the past few weeks and I’ve noticed that the offerings have definitely paired down. Portion sizes are smaller, with more rice and less meat. Soda disappeared, but you still get a bottle of water. When I asked for the usual container of kimchi (which had about 3 small pieces), the guy pointed to the single small piece in the tray.

  • I gave this cart a shot today because I was in a hurry (it’s right outside my building), and I’m always up for something new. I agree that the guy was really friendly, and that was an added plus. Not having read your post about it, I ordered the Bi Bim Bap, which I am kind of regretting. There’s no egg, the sauce is too spicy for me, and I cannot figure out one of the ingredients, which is a little unnerving. I can’t decide if I’ll give this cart another shot yet.

  • aside from the friendly service; the $5 “bargain” was a little too obvious:
    1. a penny size amount of kimchi- seriously, i wish i had a camera..when i asked the man where it was in the meal, he asked me to open the container and fish around the massive amounts of lettuce to find it
    2. bulgogi it is NOT- ground up low quality beef with some not-so-spicy sauce. Even the menu states it should be thin slices of meat!
    3. Where are the veggies like the menu photos portray? scallions even? i KNOW those are cheap.

    hey, i love cheap carts; and i try to give them slack for the bargain..but man, i felt more than ripped off with each bite. those poor people who dont know korean food will have such a horrible impression.

    BUT–>next time i will do the sandwich; at a $1 a pop, it cant let me down.


    Um… I wouldn’t bet on it.  Even the $1 sandwich is sort of disappointing (and now I think they’ve raised the price to $2.  I gave up on this cart a long time ago… -zach

  • Quick update on this place and its ever-evolving “bulgogi” combo platter … the cheap ground beef is now served over white rice (which is actually a plus for me) and the “spicy” sauce is kind of bland. My sides included some kind of soba noodle, cart salad and a smattering of kimchee.

    At 6 bucks it is cheap, but it’s still not really worth it …

  • the $1 sandwiches are no more. Not even offered. A $2 version served on a hot dog bun takes it’s place. Really.

    I had the beef bulgogi on white rice. came with small salad and spoonful of kimchi. Good flavor, served hot… no line.

    All in all, just fine for a quick tasty cart lunch when I am too tired to walk down to 53rd for chicken and rice :)

  • i just ordered the medium sized bulgogi with white rice and some salad with no kimchi for $6.

    the bulgogi is dry with barely any marination. it’s just plain beef that is a bit oversized. i’ve been to many korean restaurants in manhattan and flushing, and this cart does not compare. but for the price i paid, the food is overpriced.

    i will not return. -__-

  • X-posted from the Korean BBQ Cart review:

    So I did a in-depth look at the two carts side by side. Here’s my assessment:

    As a Korean, I love the fact that Korean food is becoming ‘mainstream’ enough to serve streetcart style in Midtown Manhattan. Will they ever become as popular as the ubiquitous chicken & lamb halal carts? Probably not, but all of a sudden, 6th Ave has drawn two unlikely and scrappy competitors to the street meat scene.

    Enter the bulgogi and kimchi cart (I’ll call it B&K for short) located at 49th & 6th and the Korean BBQ cart (I’ll call it KBBQ for short) just a block away 50th & 6th, in the vacated Happy Well Being Cart space (not sure if they’re related?). The proximity of the two carts to each other of course warrants a comparative review, so here we go!

    The Bulgogi and Kimchi Cart (front):
    The Bulgogi and Kimchi Cart (side):
    The Korean BBQ Cart:

    I ordered the bulgogi and rice combo from both carts, each coming in at $7. Bulgogi, an extremely common entrée in any Korean restaurant and household, is thinly sliced beef, marinated in soy sauce, sugar, ginger, scallions and other seasonings. It’s usually pan fried (though sometimes BBQ’d), with scallions, carrots and other veggies.

    With both bags in hand, the KBBQ cart was noticeably heavier. Upon closer inspection, the KBBQ container was a few micrometers larger than the B&K container.

    Guess they source their bags from the same place:

    KBBQ on the right is slightly larger than B&K on the left:

    An inside look (side by side):

    An inside look (Bulgogi & Kimchi):

    An inside look (Korean BBQ Cart):

    Both meals come with a generous serving of white rice, bulgogi, and a small side salad. Here’s a quick breakdown:

    Both bulgogi’s were approximately the same texture – slightly juicy, not too fatty, and tender. However, B&K upped the flavor quotient with a heavier hand of soy sauce and sugar marinade. If you’re averse to salt, this is probably a negative trait, but I thought it was overall tastier.

    Edge: Bulgogi & Kimchi

    The rice bedding of each cart were nearly identical – slightly dry though still retaining the sticky and fragrant nature of a good short grain rice. I sampled the rice side by side multiple times and couldn’t come up with a clear winner.
    Edge: Tie

    The salad category is where the carts truly started to deviate from each other. KBBQ’s salad was composed mostly of romaine lettuce, with a single wilted cherry tomato. The salad had been heavily doused with Italian dressing and left to sit for some time, so it turned into green mush. I didn’t want to take a bite of it, but for this reviews sake, I had to. It tasted like it looks – mushy, over-seasoned, horrible, FAIL. B&K on the other hand, had a delicately dressed salad of crisp mesclun greens. I finished the B&K salad with gusto.

    Edge: Bulgogi & Kimchi

    The ‘X Factor’:
    Much to my delight, after killing the B&K salad, I discovered a hidden treat. A small, but very well made side portion of japchae. The noodles were slightly al dente (I prefer my jap chae to be a little more tender), but the flavors were good, and it gave a little more variety to the meal.

    B&K’s japchae!:

    I guess you could give credit to the KBBQ cart for giving slightly more food for the same price, but both meals are very filling regardless.

    Edge: Bulgogi & Kimchi

    The Winner:
    Bulgogi & Kimchi is the clear winner with their more flavorful bulgogi, crisper salad, and jap chae surprise. Now everyone can stop whining about how there’s no good Korean food outside of 32nd st.


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