Oh, Woorijip. You’ve been a lifesaver. Before I discovered you by chance one fateful day, I would subject myself to McDonald’s before heading on the Long Island Railroad to my hometown. These days, instead of silicone n’anti-foaming agent McNuggets, I enjoy some tasty Korean food.
Navigating Woorijip is easy. Choose from pre-made (though fresh tasting) Korean dishes, put it on a tray, pay and then sit and eat or take your food to go. There is a buffet that is charged by weight (serving a variety of hot or cold Korean foods) and various soups, hot dishes, and cold dishes spread around at different stations. You can a get a filling meal for $5-$10, whether you go for the buffet or a something like a combination soup and Korean fried chicken meal.
Korean food is not as widespread as other East Asian foods like Chinese and Japanese, so allow me to give you a very basic overview. Popular Korean dishes at Woorijip include Kimchi, fermented vegetables (typically cabbage) marinated in a spicy sauce and Bulgogi, a tasty dish of grilled and marinated beef. Another very popular dish is Kimbap, which looks like sushi but has rice marinated in sesame oil (sushi rice contains vinegar) and is stuffed with a variety of cooked proteins and vegetables as opposed to raw fish.
A particularly good dish at Woorijip is Kimchi Fried Rice, which is different than any other fried rice I’ve tried. The tart and spicy flavors of Kimchi complement the oily goodness of fried rice and fried egg surprisingly well. In addition to the fried rice, the buffet has a delicious dish of fried tofu marinated in a sweet and spicy garlic sauce. Usually, I think tofu is a tasteless alien food coveted by vegetarians, but I have to tip my hat to Woorijip for making it pretty damn tasty.
Woorijip is in the heart of Koreatown and is surrounded by other Korean establishments, but it’s one of the cheapest and fastest joints on the block. So, next time you’re in the food desert that is Herald Square or Penn Station, head east for a few minutes to Woorijip. You’ll never be hungry and unsatisfied around that neighborhood again.
Woorijip is located on 12 West 32nd street between Broadway and 5th Avenue. Their basic website lists some of the food you may find when you get there, but what’s available rotates.