Jongro is a Great Hidden Lunch in K-Town

I never would have known Jongro existed if it wasn’t for Chris H. He let us know that the recently opened hidden Korean BBQ spot started serving a lunch menu.

Jongro is nestled on the second floor of an office building and when the elevator opened, I was impressed by the size and ambiance of this oasis. It’s designed almost as an outdoor pavilion with little stalls and old Korean movie posters and kitsch on the walls.

Recently, I visited another popular brand new Korean BBQ spot for lunch and found the food good, but their cheap lunch options were limited. Jongro is known as being a more affordable BBQ location with their meat prices well below the neighborhood’s usual price points. ¬†While they have many locations in Korea, this is their first expansion into the States.

The lunch menu had a wide selection of combos, soups, and bibimbap. All of the items were under $16, but most hovered right around $9.99.

I chose the Stone Bibimbap with kimchi and bulgogi, which is not something I usually get to have at lunch time, but these were right at the ML price limit. It was preceded, of course, by a selection of banchan. The American-style macaroni salad with imitation crab meat seemed out of place but certainly brought me back to childhood barbecues, the kimchi was plentiful and flavorful, but my favorite selection was the smoky, marinated onions that were crisp and potent.

After the banchan, but before the bibimbap, they brought out a bowl of complimentary chewy rice cakes in a sweet, spicy, smoky red sauce. They were great.

I also really enjoyed the bibimbap. As advertised, it came out in a sizzling stone and it was beautifully plated with colorful vegetables and kimchi.

After I stirred it up, I discovered lots of little treasures – crisp greens, earthy mushrooms, loads of spicy kimchi, and sweet tender nuggets of bulgogi. My favorite part of these types of bibimbap are always the crunchy rice formed by the hot stone. These did not disappoint. And all told, I left full and satisfied. Not bad for just over $10 in Koreatown.

Evidentally, Jongro gets just as crowded in the evening as Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong despite its hidden locale. I’d definitely recommend visiting for lunch. The food is fresh and flavorful and the ambiance alone is worth a visit. Once again, thank you, Chris H. for the excellent tip!

Jongro BBQ, 22 West 32nd Street (2nd Floor, bw 5th and 6th Ave), (212) 473-2233

6 Comments

  • This looks and sounds amazing!!! Too bad it’s so far from my office :/
    Great write up!

  • I wonder if this is the same Jongro that just opened up in Flushing (Murray hill area, near Hmart). Looks like the same font.

    • It’s a franchise (like Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong) – like any franchise the standards are set by HQ but the owners are usually allowed to elaborate a bit. In this case, I am a huge fan of the Manhattan Jongro franchise.

  • good find! I want all of that

  • I went today for lunch and had the same thing as above. It was good but not great but I will try it again.

  • I have to emphasize that while as a practical matter banchan usually comes before the main dish, it is meant to be eaten as a side, banchan are NOT appetizers. Also potato salad is quite commonly served as a side in Korean restaurants at least in the states, so its not at all out of place.

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