Koki & Vegi: Cheap Korean BBQ From A Kiosk
It’s easy to forget about the area around City Hall at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge in terms of lunch options because, other than a couple of food carts, there really weren’t any until a year ago when the Open Air Cafe kiosks opened. Those shuttered, but this year brought the amazing news that Tortilleria Nixtamal opened Nixtamalito and then others selling diner food, grilled cheese, shaved ice and other items were opening. The last of the bunch was Koki & Vegi with Korean food. As of last week the kiosk has been open selling bibimbap, kalbi, bulgogi and other items at less than $10. After what I ate yesterday, I can say that Korean food fans should be excited.
Other than the occasional stop by the Kimchi Taco Truck and Soma By Nature our selection of affordable Korean food below Canal St. is almost non-existent. I really liked Jup She up in Chinatown, but most people aren’t going to hike all the way up there for a cheap lunch deal.
Koki & Vegi has a short menu, but the extremely friendly man behind the counter assured me and everyone else that they would be adding more menu items, and start serving breakfast at 7 a.m. in a couple of days. (He was very excited about an item involving ham, egg, toast, lettuce and kiwi jam).
They already sell kimchi pancakes, but will also do a seafood one soon (both two for $4.99), and he was giving out samples of each. I personally liked the kimchi version but if you’re not a fan the seafood one wasn’t shabby either. Later I got a taste of both the bulgogi and chicken dupbap. They were good, but I liked the chicken slightly better.
I ordered the kalbi over rice ($9.99) which is the most expensive item on the menu. Most other dishes are $8 or less.The kalbi was not only good, but plentiful. It was a little hard to gnaw on with chopsticks so you might want to ask for a fork if that’s a problem since most of the nine (!) pieces were large. You also get a large pile of rice and some cabbage with either honey mustard or raspberry vinaigarette on it. If you want kimchi with any of the dishes it’s an extra $1.
Between this kiosk, Nixtamalito and the other vendors on the opposite side of the building there’s yet another reason to walk a little farther for lunch. They’ll be open year-round until 6 p.m.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Finally, I can get a torta and some kalbi in one convenient location!
- Everything is under $10 which is rare for Korean meats.
- The people running it seem just as excited about the food they’re serving as we are to eat it.
THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- It’s too far to walk for me.
- Once it gets cold I’m not standing outside for bulgogi.
Koki & Vegi, west side of 1 Centre St., (917) 648-5505