Flatiron Lunch: Tasty KoFoo from the back of a Deli
Every Friday we go south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between – but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.
A couple weeks ago, while MJP was tasting and waxing poetic about KoFoo, a great Korean spot in Chelsea, I was simultaneously discovering the joy of KoFoo as well. But I was a few blocks away at the Four Season Cafe, a generic deli with dry looking paninis, salad bar, racks of bags of chips, etc. But this generic deli happens to have a counter in the back serving delicious Korean food. You may remember that a few weeks ago, I wrote about a Korean spot hiding in an office building lobby. Which begs the question: why are these Korean restaurants making us work so hard to find them? Just kidding, they know we love the hunt!
I have to quickly digress to mention that Four Season Cafe used to share this space with a Blimpie. While I never got the chance to check it out in that form, it always made me think of Zach’s classic post about Blimpie with Latin food. It seems that when the Blimpie partnership ended, the KoFoo restaurant share began. But, can we all briefly entertain the possibilities if every Subway franchise was required to partner with an independent restaurant?
In the case of this branch of KoFoo, a small sign out front hints more is going on than the outside appearance indicates.
Since we previously established that bibimbap is my baseline for all Korean restaurants, I clearly had to get the bibimbap with beef ($8.00). I noticed their menu offered a choice of hot Korean sauce or KoFoo special sauce to accompany the dish. I had to try both even if cost me a little extra. I immediately loved the special sauce with its explosive flavor profile, just like the first time I ever tried Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki. (If you don’t know about Soy Vay, it’s 15 minutes of fame may have passed, but it is a great twist on teriyaki sauce.) From what I could tell, KoFoo sauce is onions, sesame seeds, sesame oil and soy sauce, and should be put on everything.
The bibimbap was properly packaged for travel back to the office – an issue MJP brought up in his post. The rice was packed on the side to preserve the freshness of the dish and for those not wanting to carbo-load. My only complaint about this delivery system is that it does make it more difficult to get those perfect bites of beef, rice, veg, and sauce as you dig down.
I also ordered the bulgogi kimbap (aka kimbob on their menu) ($6.00), and, even though mine wasn’t the bulgogi and kimchi combo MJP tried, I almost completely agree with his evaluation of the experience. The roll was huge, and could certainly be a meal on its own. When I opened the container, I was greeted with an amazing aroma of seaweed paper, warm just-cooked rice, and bulgogi. I didn’t realize until the end of the meal that they had included soy sauce packets for me, but the roll didn’t need it. I am still beating myself up for not having thought to put KoFoo special sauce on this too. Since I wasn’t able to finish both dishes, I figured the kimbap would be good for lunch the next day. Boy, was I wrong. After, a little time in the fridge, it lost all of its magic/mojo. In fact, I would venture to say it was inedible as cold leftover.
Flatiron’ers not quite willing to make it to K-town or, even, 8th Ave and 26th Street, this is the place for you. And you also get the added enjoyment of getting great Korean food at an unremarkable looking deli.
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Always happy to explore another Korean spot in a non-traditional location
- They care enough to separately pack the bibimbap elements
- I cannot get enough of KoFoo’s special sauce
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- It is too depressing to be in a deli, no matter how good the Korean food is
- I wish my bibimbap came fully assembled so the flavors could mesh properly
- Does kimbap always taste this bad as a leftover?
KoFoo in Four Season Cafe, 67 West 23 Street (btw 5th and 6th Aves), 212-924-2654