Welcome back to Food Crawls, a series in which Eater Boston staffers guide you (virtually) on various food (and booze) crawls in the Boston area.
When we go out, we often find ourselves wanting to try more than one restaurant or bar at a time — a drink and a snack here, another drink and perhaps a dessert there — and want to share our favorite multi-stop combinations with you. These crawls are meant to be relatively walkable, and the amount of food and drink is meant to correspond roughly to a couple of average appetites (so bring a friend), although your mileage may vary. Email us if there’s a particular theme, specific dish or drink, or neighborhood you’d like to see covered in a future installment.
There’s a scene in the Ugly Delicious episode about barbecue in which chef David Chang, artist David Choe, and actor Steven Yuen are gathered around a table at Park’s BBQ in LA’s Koreatown speaking with proprietor Jenee Kim about her restaurant’s biggest draw: Korean barbecue. None of them are shocked that Korean barbecue — especially galbi and bulgogi — has become the most widely embraced Korean food among non-Korean Americans.
Chang argues that barbecue is barbecue no matter where it’s being made or how it’s being made, and so it makes sense that Americans would embrace the East Asian version. (He also wonders if the East Asian version could be made in the American tradition. The episode is worth a watch.)
Perhaps less embraced in the states are dishes like haejang-guk, a soup made from congealed ox blood, beef, and vegetables that is meant to help a hangover. Americans still aren’t loving the nasty bits and blood; Americans should embrace the nasty bits and blood.
Allstonians are lucky eaters because the neighborhood is stocked with a number of exceptional Korean joints. The more adventurous Allston diners can slurp on blood; the more conservative Allston diners can stick to the galbi and bulgogi; every Allston diner is in for a Korean feast.
Stats for this food crawl:
- Total stops: 4
- Ounces of blood slurped: Let’s call it 15 to 20
- Banchan consumed: As much as one can handle
- Chain restaurants visited: 1
- Watermelons filled with liquor responsible for the next day’s hangover: Oh god, hopefully just the one
Kimchi Fritas at Coreanos
172 Brighton Ave., Boston, MA 02134
The pa dak fried chicken at Coreanos is crispy and sweet, and if this crawl didn’t have three more stops — including a fried chicken restaurant — we’d suggest eating it. Get the kimchi fritas instead (but go back some day for the fried chicken). These french fries, which are topped with kimchi, cheese, scallions, a fried egg, and a choice of different sauces, are effectively Korean poutine.
Korean Barbecue at Korean Garden
122 Harvard Ave., Boston, MA 02134
The bibimbap and the various soups at Korean Garden are noteworthy, but this spot is best known for its Korean barbecue. Be that square, conservative eater here and get the galbi and the chicken gui. The banchan is plentiful, so two barbecue orders (the minimum) is enough.
Fried Chicken at Bonchon
123 Brighton Ave., Boston, MA 02134
Not all chains are bad, folks. Bonchon proves this point with its impossibly crispy fried chicken. Offered in two varieties — soy garlic and spicy — Bonchon’s fried chicken is about as good as it gets in the entire city. Honestly.
Haejang-Guk at Myung Dong 1st Ave
90 Harvard Ave., Allston, MA 02134
From the televisions constantly playing K-pop videos to the watermelon hollowed out and filled with soju, Myung Dong offers one of the more bonkers and genuinely fun nights out in Allston. The ramen is simple and cheap and spicy, but the best soup at Myung Dong is its version of haejang-guk (spelled haejang gook on the menu). It’s known as a hangover cure in South Korea — and after all the soju you’re bound to drink, you better hope it works retroactively.