Where to Find Soulful Korean Food in the Hudson Valley
From Roxbury to Monticello, from farmstands to fast food, the Hudson Valley is home to several places serving classic and reinterpreted Korean favorites.
Sook House in Ellenville
Photos by Joan Vos MacDonald
East Branch Farm
East Branch Farm is more than the source of the farmer’s market favorite, Kimchee Harvest kimchi. The farm’s roadside stand now sells banchan — side dishes such as savory leek pancakes; cold sweet potato noodles with soy sauce, sesame seeds, egg and scallions; cucumber banchan with leeks, hot pepper, honey and vinegar; and, of course, kimchi made with different organic vegetables — Wednesdays through Sundays.
The farm also dishes up dinners of Korean barbecue with local highland beef, seasonal banchans and vegetables grown the farm. Dinners are served at long tables under a trellis laced with growing gourds, exemplifying a Korean communal style of eating. Visitors can stop by the farm to pick up banchan for a roadside picnic, but reservations are required for the dinners, which run through October. Follow them at #eastbranchfarms #kimcheeharvest.
1004 Main Street, Fishkill
Walk into the simple but elegant interior of Toro, almost hidden away in a Fishkill shopping plaza; and you might assume it’s just a sushi bar, but the Japanese/Korean restaurant has a generous selection of flavoful, traditional Korean dishes that include kalbi (barbecued beef short ribs) bulgogi (thin, marinated slices of beef or pork grilled on a stove-top griddle), jae yook boekkum (spicy pork and kimchi stir fry) hae mul tang ( a spicy fish hot pot), mandu guk ( Korean dumpling soup), bibimbap (rice topped with a fried egg, an assortment of vegetables and kimchi) and bossam (boiled pork and cabbage dish).
The dishes are tasty enough to imagine you’re dining in Seoul, although a shade less spicy. They are served with delectable fresh banchan made from cucumbers, sprouts and radish, as well as a palate-pleasing kimchi. Follow them @toronewyork.
301 Frank Sottile Blvd, Kingston
232 Main Street, New Paltz
As an Asian-Mexican grill Crazy Bowlz offers a healthier spin on fast food, serving up dishes with ample vegetables and appetizing flavor. Several dishes offer protein choices, with egg and/or tofu options for vegetarians and vegans. Meat lovers might prefer the yummy beef and kimchi nachos, savory Korean short ribs and tender bulgogi, but there’s also a “Crazy bibimbap” with cucumber, carrot, and bean sprouts that can be topped with grilled shrimp or crispy tofu.
The grill also sells varieties of Korea’s favorite liquor, chilled soju, to go, to complete the take-out experience, Korean style. The grill has its own mobile app so you can order on the go.
Yum Yum Noodle Bar
4 Rock City Road, Woodstock
275 Fair Street, Kingston
7496 South Broadway, Red Hook
Yum Yum Noodle Bar began in Woodstock and the response to its popular menu of Asian-inspired dishes helped launch new locations in Kingston and Red Hook. Everyday Korean-inspired menu items include Korean tacos with various protein options, including a vegan version with tofu, kimchi, gochujang (red chili paste) and vegan mayo, topped with crispy green onion.
A menu staple for burger lovers is the local grass-fed beef burger with kimchi, spicy mayo and pickle. Korean fare also shows up on the daily specials. According to Erica Mahlkuch, co-owner and executive chef, Korean-inspired specials include a cold soba salad with Asian pear, radish sprouts, red cabbage, cucumber, avocado, and egg topped by Korean chili dressing; jap chae, a glass noodle stir fry with sesame and vegetables; and a cold soba noodle soup with kimchi, egg, cucumber and sesame oil. Yum Yum makes its own gochujang and kimchi.
76 Center Street, Ellenville
This friendly and comfortable restaurant, found in the heart of Ellenville, is a great place to stop for a tasty lunch or dinner but Sook House also offers a sizable collection of soju flavors and some karaoke in the evenings, so you can both dine and entertain your companions, Korean style.
The soulful home-style menu features tenderly-delicious bulgogi, a fresh flavorful bibimbap, savory soy braised beef and a spicy Korean pork dish. Start the meal with a soul-warming bowl of mandu guk (Korean dumpling soup) or the restaurant’s delicately-flavored pajeon (vegetable pancakes) and finish up with some Korean frozen desserts. There’s a freezer full of frozen treats that include red bean yogurt popsicles and green tea waffle ice cream sandwiches.
Salt & Pepper the Kitchen
455 Broadway, Monticello
Despite the fact that Salt & Pepper the Kitchen serves such standard lunch fare as Caesar salad and egg salad sandwiches, it also dishes up generous portions of some of the most scrumptious Korean food in the Hudson Valley. Korean pancakes or pajeon tend to be eggier than the pancakes associated with, say, Chinese cuisine, but the pajeon served at Salt & Pepper is the perfect ratio of egginess, chock full of vegetables and, if you like, also generous chunks of seafood.
The menu also contains Korean-style mung bean flapjacks; a bulgogi platter with heaps of succulent marinated beef, spicy chicken and bokkeum bap (fried rice); as well as a pork bulgogi platter and Korean pork ribs, slow cooked in traditional spicy Korean barbecue sauce. Vegetarians may enjoy the flavorful soondubu jjigae, a bubbling hot and mildly spicy tofu pot.
71 Liberty Street, in Newburgh
Previously located in Beacon, this Newburgh restaurant offers home-style bibimbap, as well as kimchi dumplings fried to perfection, bubbling spicy tofu hot pots, seasoned pork ribs served with squash, carrots and green beans; plus spicy “late night” Korean ramen, adorned with beef, egg, and green onions; that’s only a menu item between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.
For a refreshing treat on warmer days, sample the Jaengban Guksu (cold Korean noodles and vegetables). While Seoul Kitchen’s interior is bright and clean, the restaurant also offers picnic tables outside so diners can sample their fare under the sun or stars.
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