Bulgogi Cart on 49th Finally Comes into its Own
It was almost a year ago this week that the infamous “$1 Bulgogi Sandwich Cart” popped up on 49th St. btw. 6+7th. It disappeared for a little while, and then reappeared- serving cheap plates of bulgogi (Korean stir fried beef), with a weird undercooked yellow rice, and the smallest portion of kimchee (Korean pickled cabbage) I’ve ever seen.
It wasn’t until a month later that we got the infamous $1 Bulgogi sandwich, promised by the original sign- but it was nothing more than two pieces of white bread with bulgogi sandwiched in between. Very disappointing. Months went by, as they tinkered- raising the price of the pretty mediocre sandwich from $1 to $2, before getting rid of it entirely, and replacing it with a bulgogi sandwich on a roll for even more money. This might have been good, if it wasn’t for the cucumber, and american cheese they decided to use as condiments.
They introduced a bi bim bap, which was pretty unimpressive, and even kimbap (Korean sushi) appeared on the menu- although they never seemed to have it. But the real turnaround began with the introduction of Galbi (a thicker cut of Korean bbq’d beef).
The Bulgogi Cart of today, after the jump…
Now they seem to have finally settled on a menu, and what they are putting out is pretty darn good for a street cart. Gone, the awesome in theory, not so great in practice bulgogi sandwiches. Gone, the weird yellow rice that may or may not have been an attempt to imitate the standard chicken and rice carts. Gone, the weird American ingredients (i.e. white bread and american cheese) that nobody is interested in.
In its place, a scaled down, strictly Korean menu of Galbi or Bulgogi (and chicken, which I’ve never tried), served with standard Asian white rice, japchae (Korean noodles), and kimchee. And the simplicity has paid off. At $6, you are clearly not going to get the same cut of meat you get at a restaurant in Koreantown, but the flavor is spot on. And while the bulgogi is pretty good, the Galbi is the new star of the cart. They’ll give you both as a combo if you ask…
For winter they added a new dish, but this time with more success- as Bulgogi and Kimchee Udon appeared for this cold part of year. $5 buys you 2/3 of a quart of soup, with a few pieces of bulgogi, Kimchee and some pretty decent Udon noodles. I would have liked more bulgogi, and I’m sure the Udon is from a package, but overall it was really satisfying, and for $5 I’d take it over Hale & Hearty any day of the week.
It’s no secret that carts are probably my favorite part of Midtown Lunch’ing, and nothing excites me more than watching a street cart adapt to their surroundings. I watched the Biryani Cart on 46th & 6th go from being a standard chicken and rice cart, to one of my favorite carts in the city when they started highlighting their Indian food offerings, and added Chapati rolls to their menu to make up for Kati Roll moving away from 46th St. And the Jamaican Dutchy seems to have finally gotten their act together after two months of excruciatingly slow service.
It’s good to see the Bulgogi Cart follow suit, and turn what was once the biggest disappointment of 2007, into a street cart that I would happily eat at any day of the week.
THE + (What people who like this place would say)
- It’s super cheap Korean food, from a Cart. What more could you want?
- As much as I love the idea of a bulgogi sandwich, the experimenting at this cart is thankfully over.
- A really good for the price Udon noodle soup for the cold winter months
- The galbi is very good, especially considering the price
- Good variety. With your meat, you get rice, salad, a not so terrible japchae and kimchee.
- I love food from a cart
THE – (What people who don’t like this place would say)
- It’s not the same quality of bulgogi or galbi you’d get at a real Korean restaurant
- They still give you a rediculously small amount of kimchee (something that normally comes for free, and in abundance at most Korean restaurants)
- Not worth walking too far for…
- I hate eating food from a cart. I’d rather go to Koreantown, or even a place like Cafe Duke
Bulgogi Cart on 49th btw. 6+7th