Do Hwa
 

Bbgooksu (photo: Hyeonmo Jung)

 

Dol-sot bibimbop (photo: Adeline Ramos)

A West Village institution for Korean that goes its own way

By James Oliver Cury

This is not your trendy friend’s favorite spot in K-Town. Nor is it a restaurant for Korean food purists. Located far from the frenzied energy of West Thirty-Second Street, this beloved eatery—on the same spot on Carmine Street in the West Village for the past 20 years—makes hearty home cooking both modern and accessible by adapting its menu with the times, bringing in more seafood, veggies, and small plates.

Before you set foot inside the red-walled, dark-wood space, you’ll need to make one key decision: Are you grilling meat at the table? If so, tell them when booking the reservation, as only five tables (out of 24) are set up to do that. Servers can walk you through the process and they’ll even do the cooking for you; you just need to explain how you like your meat done. Tip: While the menu offers thinly sliced marinated sliced pork, chicken breast in sesame marinade, and rib eye beef, a thicker cut of meat—like boneless beef short ribs—is less likely to be overcooked.

With recent changes to the menu, they’ve downsized several of the main courses to appetizers so you can try them without committing to a large portion. The pork riblets braised in chile and ginger are like the ribs you wish you could make at a barbecue—beautifully glazed, easy to eat, and addictive. For a dish with modern spin, try the ice-chilled buckwheat noodles served with sliced Asian pear covered in seaweed dust.
The spicy seafood soup combines crab, mussels, clams, and udon noodles in a dashi broth that you will want to slurp at the table. The dol-pan bibimbop organizes the fresh ingredients—carrots, cucumber, sprouts, eggs, tofu, and rice—into sections on a sizzling stone plate. When successfully tossed and cooked, it becomes a paella-like mash with a nice crispy bottom. The accompanying banchan (side dishes, not just kimchi) add more color and texture.

The drinks list doesn’t just hit all the notes you’d expect, it also offers gluten-free options like the tasty Lolita (soju, pomegranate juice, lemon, and cucumber), another example of tweaking the menu with the times. Beer, wine, sake, and other cocktails-with-an-abundance-of-ginger-citrus-and soju round out your choices of beverages with something just right for pairing, whichever way your meal takes you.

Kimchipajun (photo: Hyeonmo Jung)

hours

Sun–Fri 5 PM–10 PM; Sat 5 PM–11 PM

price range

$18 (bibimbop) to $34 (kalbi jjim)
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