Take31: Cafe by Day, Pocha by Night
Hello all! Today, I want to talk about my go-to Korean (non-KBBQ) restaurant in Koreatown, NYC called Take31. It's hidden on 31st street, away from the rest of Koreatown, which is primarily situated along 32nd street between 5th Ave. and Broadway. Take31 is not your traditional Korean restaurant. It maintains a very cozy atmosphere, given that it is a coffee shop called Cup and Cup during the day. However, at night, it procures an ambient vibe as it transforms into a late night pocha. A "pocha" is a Korean pub that serves street food.
Also, I haven't checked out any of their desserts or drinks but they look awesome. Someone go try them and tell me how they are! Thanks for reading!
To tease your palates, they give you a plate of spicy rice cakes (see above) as you are seated. Also known as Ddukbokki, these boiled rice cakes are soaked in a sweet red chili sauce. The sauce is typically made with a soy-chili paste, diced garlic, onions, salt, and sugar. In addition, Take31 adds in a secret ingredient: the taste of FREEDOM because this dish is complimentary! Everything tastes better when it's free. Then, the servers bless you with a heavenly menu, filled with everything you want to eat as a late night snack. Reading through their menu is like reading poetry. You could read the menu to someone and you'll automatically have a date for this Friday night.
Most of the dishes here are shared family-style. We ordered the Spicy Pork Belly and Stir Fried Kimchi with Scallion Salad (see first photo above). Look at it! It looks simple but when it's late and you're intoxicated/hungry, this will look and taste like ecstasy. For our carb, we got the dosirak, a Korean lunchbox with a fried egg, rice, sausage, and kimchi. If you scroll down to the bottom of this post, you'll see me shaking up the contents.
During this visit, we ordered the Garlic Crust and Spicy Crispy Chicken. This is one of their specialties. Besides the fact that the breading was too thick, I think this was a really badass dish. The plate presents a heavenly mountain of chicken bliss over a sea of dried garlic chips. Feel free to drench each bite with a shower of garlic chips.