When most Chowhounds think raw fish, they think Japanese sashimi. They should think again. Koreans call it hwe, and its seasonings and side dishes set it a world apart from the Japanese version.
The typical hwe feast starts with an order for the table, which should be at least three or four diners and preferably more, Linda advises. That’s because alongside a boatload of raw seafood comes a fleet of sides that might include katsu (meat cutlets), fried battered seafood, spicy seafood naeng myun (buckwheat noodles), the usual array of panchan, and—finally—a spicy seafood jigae (stew), sometimes made from the bones of the fish you’ve just eaten raw. The hwe is served with sesame or perilla leaves and a choice of accompaniments such as raw garlic and chiles, chojang (soy-vinegar sauce), and chogochujang (hot-sour bean sauce). Season and wrap the fish as you would Korean grilled meats.
And don’t fret over the bill. For $20 or $25 a head you can enjoy a blowout spread. Hwe restaurants deliver “good bang for your buck,” Linda notes. Her favorite fishing grounds are in Flushing: Cheong Hae Jin, Pado, and East, where the standard platter is likely to include sea urchin, sea cucumber, and other relative exotica: “my father, who is from the seaside in south korea, relishes this place b/c it reminds him of eating things he freshly plucked off from under the rocks.”
A bit farther afield is Samdado, perhaps not worth a special trip, but a dependable seafood option if you’re in the area. And the area, right off the LIE around Springfield Boulevard, is worth checking out. Among the chowish attractions of this small but lively Korean enclave are the newish Q Mart supermarket; Paul’s Meat, a butcher shop with nice-looking prepared foods; barbecue house Bi Won (no hound reports yet); and Joong Ha Ryu, a Korean-Chinese restaurant where Polecat has found a decent version of ja jang myun (noodles in bean sauce).
Naturally this neighborhood also has its own Korean fried-chicken house, and it’s a good one. Kyochon—the Korean chain credited with inspiring Bon Chon, Bon Bon, Boom Boom and the other chicken joints around town—opened here a month ago (it also has shops in Flushing and Bayside). Those who have tried Kyochon say the mother hen rules the roost. “It’s just as good as BonChon if not better. ... The original is awesome,” nhkteainc declares.
Like its competitors, Kyochon offers chicken seasoned with soy-garlic sauce (“Original”) or chile sauce (“Hot”). And when they say hot, they mean hot. ammel_99, who tried the spicy one, reports that her lips burned for hours afterward—but she’s not complaining. Indeed, she adds, Kyochon is way better than another local contender, Unidentified Flying Chicken in Woodside. lucyis loves the noisily crisp, seemingly greaseless chicken, great peppery fries, and well-chosen pickled radish and shredded cabbage accompaniments.
Meanwhile, the other chicken houses are not standing still. Bon Chon’s newest location, on Bell Boulevard in Bayside, appears to be in championship form, turning out chicken even crispier than its Flushing shop, Polecat reports. And ZenFoodist puts in a word for Flushing’s Very Well Chicken, whose wine-marinated fried chicken is a strong favorite among her Korean friends.
Cheong Hae Jin [Flushing]
160-20 Northern Boulevard (between 160th and 161st streets), Flushing, Queens
161-23 Crocheron Avenue (near Northern), Flushing, Queens
East Seafood Restaurant [Flushing]
150-60 Northern Boulevard (at Murray), Flushing, Queens
Samdado House [Oakland Gardens]
221-02A Horace Harding Expressway S. (at Springfield), Oakland Gardens, Queens
Q Mart Asian Gourmet [Oakland Gardens]
221-16 Horace Harding Expressway S. (between Springfield Boulevard and 224th Street), Oakland Gardens, Queens
Paul’s Meat, a.k.a. Han Kook Meat [Oakland Gardens]
61-23 Springfield Boulevard (between Horace Harding Expressway S. and 64th Avenue), Oakland Gardens, Queens
Bi Won [Oakland Gardens]
61-58 Springfield Boulevard (between Horace Harding Expressway S. and 64th Avenue), Oakland Gardens, Queens
Joong Ha Ryu [Oakland Gardens]
221-34 Horace Harding Expressway S. (between Springfield Boulevard and 224th Street), Oakland Gardens, Queens