With the Empire State Building looming overhead and several retail chains abound, it’s easy to miss a few of these spots, especially when they solely dwell in the upper floors of buildings.
1.) Paris Baguette
Don’t let the name fool you, this bakery on 6 West 32nd Street is a popular food company based in South Korea. With 2,900 stores already established there, Paris Baguette has made its way to the States with its current number of 15 stores, soon to be 22 at the end of this year.
Now, when it comes to baked goods, I’m already half-way sold if I can catch a whiff of that bread-right-out-of-the-oven smell when I enter through a doorway, as was the case when I first came to this bakery. With regards to the menu, while they do offer sandwiches, Paris Baguette is better known for their bread, pastries, cakes, and coffee. A re-imagination of Parisian food by Koreans, Parisian Baguette acts as a reminder of South Korea where these stores are found in abundance. Yet, their recipes appeal to Americans for its West-East fusion. As for the staff, some of the food workers don the most stereotypical “Parisian” outfit: a black beret and a striped black and white “mime” shirt. C’est trÃ¨s amusant.
2.) Greeley Square Park
Clean public restrooms with murals — is this New York City? I’ve been a victim to New York’s aggravating lack of public restrooms so when there is a well-maintained restroom without the accompanying fee of a coffee drink or the like, Greeley Square Park acts as an oasis in the city. Not to be confused with the shared public spaces of Herald Square, Greeley Square Park is more distinct from the street with its encompassing fence. I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit this park, but if I was in the area, it’s a nice place to recover and relax after spending time in Korea Way.
This restaurant is one of those hidden places on Korea Way. Situated on the third floor of 32 West 32nd Street, Arirang’s menu offers dishes at reasonable prices. Half of the main entrees offered are less than $11, and while the specials may be more expensive, there are good deals for dishes intended for multiple people. For example, a large beef bul-gogi for three people is $45.99 altogether. On a cold winter day (or during some of these bizarre, cold, and rainy summer days) I recommend one of their noodle soup specialties, chicken kar-jeabe with handmade long-noodle and dough flakes. The result? Hunger beaten for only $10.
4.)Food Gallery 32-Hanok
Set within a futuristic backdrop with K-Pop music videos abound, Food Gallery 32 on 11 West 32nd Street accommodates cravings for a wide variety of Asian foods at low cost (most dishes are under $10). I was only able to sample Hanok, just one of the many food stalls at the food court, but if the lines at the other places are any indication, then Food Gallery necessitates multiple visits.
The word “hanok,” a term used to describe traditional Korean homes, aptly fits this restaurant. It doesn’t attempt to overtly brand itself as an “authentic Korean experience,” but rather humbly delivers traditional and well-made Korean dishes. Ultimately, I went with the Bibimbop, rice topped with vegetables and ground beef, for $8 — a good choice for those with moderate hunger pains. However, if you still have some room for dessert, Red Mango has a self-serve station by the front door.
5.) Karaoke Duet 35
Located on the second floor of 53 West 35th Street, Karaoke Duet 35 is a destination best-saved after a meal and a trip to a bar (for liquid courage). What separates Karaoke Duet 35 from the other karaoke places in the area is its extensive song selections in Korean and English. They update their song list every month so they always have the latest hits available for people to murder with off-pitch voices. Also, what is a good karaoke place without awkward, cheesy music videos?
Per Person/Hour Before 8 P.M. After 8 P.M.
Monday-Thursday $4 $6
Friday & Saturday $5 $8.50
Sunday & Holidays $4 $6
*Tip: Karaoke Duet 35 does not allow outside drinks of any kind so if you want to save a few dollars, head to a bar beforehand.