In my mind, Korean food is the rustic cousin to city-slicker Japanese cuisine. Sweet marinated grilled meats (bulgogi), smack-you-in-the-face kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage), and hearty rice mixed with vegetables, chili pepper paste and a fried egg (bibimbap) are staple Korean comfort foods. Restaurants offering Korean barbecue, many with grills to cook the meat yourself at your table, are increasingly common in New Jersey. Menus can be difficult to navigate for those of us new to Korean cuisine. Some patience and exploration of the many other Korean dishes, from savory egg pancakes to fried chicken to seafood noodle soups to French-inspired pastries, is worth the effort.
Over 93,000 New Jersey residents claimed Korean ancestry in the 2010 Census. Sixty percent of the state’s Korean population lives in Bergen County, with large concentrations in Palisades Park and Fort Lee. Not surprisingly, those two towns are home to many Korean restaurants. The EthnicNJ map shows highly regarded Korean food spots there, as well as in Jersey City and Middlesex County, where the Korean population is growing.