We all know Great Neck has a healthy collection of Asian restaurants. There’s the selection of new-age Asian fusion places, a selection of Chinese take-out places, and of course fifty gazillion sushi places.
But the one thing that’s been missing has been Korean food. Until now.
Building off the success of the great H-Mart supermarket on Great Neck Road (which has produce so fresh it really puts Waldbaum’s to shame), they’ve expanded the real estate across the street to become something called “H-Plaza”.
This is clearly a shopping experience meant to the growing Asian population in Little Neck, Bayside, and Great Neck. On the lower level is a “Bed Bath and Beyond” -like home store, with Asian household items like plastic tubs and slippers. On the main level there are various stores, including a hair salon (that seems to specialize in Asian styles), Asian make-up store Shishedo, and a bakery that’s called “Gateaux” which serves Asian baked goods (breads that are sweeter than American bread and cakes which are less sweet). A lot of the signs and words you hear spoken will be in Korean, but don’t panic, everyone speaks English (unlike what you’ll find down the road in Flushing).
The top floor is their “food court”. If you’ve ever been to Asia or Southern California (or closer to home, to the Mitsuwa supermarket in Edgewater or the Flushing Mall), you’ll know what to expect. Hot food, lots of choices, and huge portions.
There are two counters, one for Chinese fare and one for Korean fare. When we went on a weekend, the Korean side was the only side open. The seating area is pretty sparsely decorated, with a few tables providing seating for about 30 people throughout the top floor. One thing I noticed each time I come is that there are usually Asian families with kids–something about cheap eats and room for the kids to roam seems to appeal to parents.
I asked the woman at the counter what the most popular dishes were. She said the scallion pancakes were very popular, as well as the Bibimbap (which for some reason I always mispronounced “Bemingbop”. We decided to go with the Bibimbap and an order of Soondooboo (As for what these are, you’ll find out below). Most of the dishes are traditional Korean “fast food”, including a variety of noodle soups (udon, thin noodle, rice noodle, handmade noodle). The less adventurous may opt for more familiar dishes like fried rice and fried pork cutlet.
The food came out HOT. How hot? For the first time in Great Neck Eats history, I’m posting actual videos of the food. First, the sizzling bibimbop…
The bibimbap was pretty good. Granted, it’s a little tough to mess this dish up–it’s just a mix of a fried egg, mushrooms, bean sprouts, shredded carrots, various greens, and ground beef. (The translation of Bibimbap is “mixed meal”)
It comes in a traditional heavy cast iron pot so it can continue to cook on your table. The sizzing sound you hear is a large amount of sesame oil. I committed a faux pas by stirring the dish too fast–I should have waited a little longer before stirring so the rice gets nice and crispy.
Here’s what the whole dish looked like:
As is traditional with Korean food, you get some nice little side dishes to go with it. We enjoyed a nice bowl of kimchi and some bean sprouts.
The bebimbap was pretty good. The ingredients were pretty fresh and the heat of the meal was the absolute perfect way to warm up on a chilly afternoon.
Here’s what the soondooboo looked–and sounded–like:
Soondooboo (also spelled sundubu) is a spicy red soup with tofu and seafood. We were thrilled at the bubbling. It wasn’t quite up to par to what we’ve had in “real” Korean restaurants, but for food court fare it was definitely decent. The tofu came in big chunks. They skimped a bit of the seafood–we had to hunt to find the shrimp and the clams.
From a food perspective, I’d give the food itself a solid four stars–it wasn’t gourmet food, but certainly good authentic Korean comfort food. Unfortunately, I have to dock them a point for the overall experience. During our meal, the lady at the counter proceeded to do her cleaning tasks–not a bad thing normally, but she used a pungent bleach that filled the room with the thick scent of Clorox–which certainly didn’t help our appetite. Granted, it was already 2 PM by the time we ate, but there’s just no excuse for subjecting your paying customers to that.
Something else I noticed was that while the food was “food court food”, the prices really weren’t “food court prices”. The average dish cost anywhere from $9 to 15 each, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but compared to other food courts is a fortune. If you spring for the kalbi, prepare to pay close to $20, even more expensive than many restaurants. We ended up spending over $25 for lunch, including drinks.
Still, overall I was impressed by this new entrant to the Great Neck food scene. If you’re in the mood for some quick and warm food on a cool day in a casual setting, or if you’re craving classic Korean fare and don’t feel like trudging to Flushing, this is the place for you.
Great Neck, NY 11021
Sun-Sat 10am – 10pm
Price Range: $$ (Entrees range from $8 to $20)
Takes Reservations: No