Casual Korean BBQ & Fried Chicken Hit Manhattan Ave.
Bulbap Grill is looking to bring traditional Korean food to Greenpointers through a simple and short menu of core specialties like BBQ, rice bowls, chicken wings and tacos. The owner’s goal is to build a recognizable brand of restaurants, synonymous with great traditional and Korean fusion foods with the Greenpoint location being the first of three opening in the tri-state area.
As I ventured into the restaurant, there was a short line of menu onlookers peering through the glass. I had skimmed eagerly for the word ‘bulgogi’ and was excited it appeared more than once. As if the bulgogi hadn’t been enough to get me through the door, upon entering I was greeted by painted word art that read “Casual Korean BBQ + Fried Chicken.” Who can say no to that? I have been on the hunt for great bulgogi (a beef dish of sweet, pepper and garlic flavors) in the ‘hood since Mrs. Kim’s closed to “renovate” last year.
I went to Bulbap Grill last Monday around 7:30 pm, about two weeks after the restaurant’s opening. The waitstaff was extremely hospitable and genuinely interested in my experience from start to finish. The space itself is set-up in a sit-down but quick-to-serve format with enough room inside to have an individual table – whether or you are dining for one or with a group. The decor is minimalist, with high-top wooden tables, colored metal stools, and hanging Edison light bulbs, paired with fun accent walls.
The menu is simple to understand and easy to navigate. I believe it is strategically written to introduce the eater to Korean foods. For instance, the menu identifies that “bulp bingsoo” is snowflake shaved ice before listing the varieties. Once I ordered, I waited no more than 5 minutes until my tofu salad and bulgogi bulbap arrived. It looked like most other patrons were also eating one of the bulbap or bibimbap dishes. The bulbap comes with a nice sized soup, a side of housemade kimchi, and hot sauce to add to the bowl as desired. Their beef bulgogi flavoring is just right, a delightful mix of soy sauce, sweetness, and garlic, it pairs beautifully with the vegetables and rice. The tofu salad is simple and delicious; mixed greens are topped with tofu and incredibly tasty housemade miso dressing. To ensure none of it was wasted, I dipped my rice into the dressing until it disappeared.
There is currently no alcohol available at the restaurant, just a selection of water, soda and ice tea. However, the restaurant is in the process of getting a license to serve! So, expect to see beer and wine added to the menu later this summer. Bulbap Grill also plans on adding or swapping out three to four dishes each month to help expand and introduce a variety of Korean dishes to the clientele. Fingers crossed the bulgogi and miso dressing will remain a staple!
The restaurant is already feeling great support from the Greenpoint neighborhood in the just the few short weeks since its opening. The owner expressed that Bulbap Grill has been welcomed with open arms thus far – they are loving both the area and the customers! Hopefully, they will have the same reception for their next locations in the Bronx and New Jersey.
Bulbap Grill is located at 646 Manhattan Avenue. They are open every day, noon to midnight.