I have probably eaten at two thirds of the restaurants along Manhattan’s 32nd street Korea Town corridor and I have been trying to complete my tour, so for a recent lunch I stopped in at Miss Korea BBQ. As its name suggests Miss Korea BBQ is mainly a Korean barbeque joint. Each table has a hot plate grill set in the middle of the table and suspended just above each grill there is a steam-punky looking copper metal exhaust duct: at first glance it looks like each table has copper column sticking out of the center of it. The restaurant looks like something out of the movie Brazil.
The Dumplings: Miss Korea BBQ caught my eye because the menu stand on the street listed homemade steamed pork and beef dumplings and homemade fried pork and beef dumplings, which I took to mean that I could get an order of pork dumplings for lunch. But it turns out their dumplings are filled with a blend of pork and beef and since I don’t eat beef I opted for the steamed kimchi dumplings.
The kimchi dumplings are filled with cabbage kimchi and tofu and are reportedly vegan, but kimchi is commonly made with fish sauce, so I can’t be 100% sure. The dumplings were served in a bamboo steamer and looked great, but the flavor was fairly timid and clearly designed not to offend anyone. The dumplings had a kimchi flavor only the most general sense and had no spice or kick to them. The blandness of the dumplings was particularly odd, because the kimchi dishes they served as free appetizers were really good.
The Dipping Sauce: The sauce was a mix of soy and sesame oil with lots of scallions, but the serving was miniscule in quantity so it was next to impossible to actually dip the dumplings in the sauce. With dumpling this mild in flavor I really wanted to douse them with sauce and get some flavor, but it wasn’t happening.
The Location: Miss Korea BBQ is on 32nd street between 5th and 6th avenues, on the south side of the street.