Cho Dang Gol calls itself the most famous Korean restaurant in New York City. We found ourselves there one Friday evening not so long ago, on one of the first truly chilly nights of the fall, along with lots of families and couples, most speaking Korean. Sometimes, we suppose, you can find truth in advertising. We began with CDG dumplings, almost vacuum-packed with pork and shrimp.
Bibimbap was our reason for visiting, and alas was the weakest part of the meal. The baby shrimp and veggies were fresh and fine, but the rice lacked the char that makes this dish so special and so texturally revelatory. Truthfully, the kinda mushy rice let us down.
Behold, the banchan. Of particular note is the homemade tofu, a "soft white custard [with] the texture of overwhipped cream," as Ruth Reichl noted in her 1998 review (above, far right). Not much has changed since then as far as the fermented soybeans go.
The kimchi biji was a mini cauldron of meat and spice, a flavorful stew of pork and more soybeans and pickled vegetables. Cho Dang Gol's website doesn't explain what makes it the most famous Korean restaurant in the city --- only that it is. We'd hazard, however, that this soup has something to do it.