As Korean pubs go, Han Shin Pocha is about as authentic as they come. Known as Goo Gong Tan to Koreans, this drinking and eating hangout is part of the often-overlooked Korean enclave in Flushing’s Murray Hill neighborhood, east of downtown and a few blocks off the bustling Northern Boulevard strip. E Eto recounts a terrific meal highlighted by the house specialty, charcoal-grilled shellfish. Here’s what his group enjoyed:
- Modeum jogae (assorted clam grill): This is a big heap of regular clams, razor clams, turban (sea snails), chopped seasoned scallops, chopped clams, oysters, and enoki mushrooms–all fresh and delicious–served with udon noodles in seafood broth. Eat the shellfish as soon as they expire and open up on your tableside grill, with a dash of garlicky, vinegary orange sauce if you like, and try not to lose the juices. Save the noodles for last; by the time you’ve put away the shellfish, the noodles will be soft and the tasty broth, containing bits of squid and crab, will be boiling. surly calls this dish “hard-core, down-and-dirty Korean comfort food,” difficult to find in mainstream restaurants even in Korea.
- Sauteed baby octopus and pork belly in red sauce: Spicy, hearty, and accompanied by shiso-like ggae-nyeep (sesame leaf) and slices of chile and raw garlic.
- Goon mandoo (fried dumplings): An exemplary version, filled with pork, chive, garlic, and clear noodles, and pan-fried to perfect crispness.
- Pajun (scallion pancake): Nice and crispy and uncommonly light–and brought to E Eto’s table on the house.
- Jwee-poh (dried fish or squid): Softened on the grill, cut into strips with scissors, this is a common pub bite, great with drinks, served with hot sauce or mayonnaise for dipping.
Other smart orders include gan jang soo yook (soy sauce pork belly), marinated and preboiled, then finished on the grill; al jjigae (fish roe stew); and oh-jing-uh soondae (steamed squid stuffed with sliced blood sausage). Drinks–which flow freely here–include beer, soju, and more unusual offerings like sweet Korean raspberry wine.
The vibe is much like a Japanese izakaya–worn but warm and comfortable–and non-Koreans might find the place intimidating. If possible, go with someone who speaks the language. surly says Goo Gong Tan is modeled on Korea’s po jang ma cha, little dives that operate out of basements and tents: “The menu offerings, the Korean pop music, the graffiti all over the walls, the utter lack of restraint in drinking and eating, the camaraderie, the lack of English spoken, the absence of gringos, the uncomfortable seats–this is truly what it’s like to eat and drink in Korea.”
Han Shin Pocha, a.k.a. Goo Gong Tan [Flushing]
40-03 149th Pl., near Roosevelt Ave., Flushing, Queens