Food Gallery 32: You’ve Seen the Inside, Now Let’s Eat!
In the week and a half since we gave you the first look at the inside of Food Gallery 32, I’ve stopped in over and over again to check out the progress and to sample the food at some of the seven food stalls within. I’m now the FourSquare mayor and was told, ‘see you tomorrow!’ when I left yesterday. The upshot is that I’ve tasted a fair amount of the offerings and ogled some more… you know… for you guys.
Check it all out after the jump.
First, what’s not there. I’ve been hoping to try the jok bal at stall #1, Boon Sik Zip since my first visit to Food Gallery 32 and have been rebuffed every time. Pig’s feet can be hit or miss, so maybe I’m just asking for trouble, but that photo makes me want to try it something awful.
Instead, I tried the jjajangmyun at Jin Jja Roo (stall #6), which is quite the mouthful to order. I’d never had jjajangmyun and mostly ordered it because I’ve read some of you guys mention it in the forums. I have no idea what a really good instance is of it (maybe I need to try the version at Hyo Dang Gak?), but I found this to be decidedly ‘meh.’ For the unfamiliar, the dish is made up of noodles topped with pork in a black bean sauce. The sauce was heavy and a bit goopy, the veggies and pork all looked the same dyed by the black beans and the noodles were chewy. Not a win.
Given that this was the day after opening, I’ll definitely give Jin Jja Roo another shot at some point, but probably not for a little while.
Right next to them in stall #5, Bian Dang, the former NYC Cravings folks are slinging the same deliciousness we’ve known and loved from the truck. As much as I’ve have liked to have eaten this lovely looking chicken, it was for someone else. Instead I ordered the one new item on their menu, the wonton soup.
I ordered the soup as a starter to go with the jjajangmyun – a mistake given how heavy that turned out to be – and the soup came out about 10 minutes earlier. I stood at the stall sipping the broth from the tray here and there. It was great. The salty and savory flavors of the dried shrimp and seaweed were amazing. When I finally sat down, I dug right in, only to be disappointed by the wontons. The wrappers are huge for the tiny pieces of meat inside and they had a similar gummy texture to them like those from Jin Jja Roo. Next time I’m getting the chicken… or maybe a pork chop. Mmmm.
A better option is the soup from Big Bowl (stall #7). I had the shrimp tempura udon. This really hit the spot. The broth was light, which balanced out the heavy, filling udon. The shrimp were sodden in the soup, so there wasn’t much of a crunch to them, but overall, I enjoyed it.
Most recently, I tried the pork cutlets at Pastel (stall #2). I’ve been hoping for some really good katsu in Koreatown ever since Arang closed up for lunch a couple months back. I was happily surprised to see that unlike most other katsu in the area, you get the full butterflied cutlet rather than half. It’s pounded thin, but is still juicy inside. The curry katsu I had was topped with a meat and potato-laden curry sauce similar to what they serve at Arang along with a side of soup, pickles and cole slaw. All of the pork cutlets were priced at $8.95, regardless of the topping, which is nice as most places will charge another buck for it.
Overall, Food Gallery 32 is totally a work in progress. I won’t judge the misses I had as anything more than everyone trying to get settled in and find their balance. I will point out that in the last week, the place has been pretty empty, which I doubt will last very long given all the options on hand. I’d recommend stopping in before it starts to draw a crowd.
Food Gallery 32, 11 West 32nd Street (btwn 5th + B’way).