I have always liked the Korean food cart Bapcha, so I was excited when John expanded with another food cart on the SW corner of 52nd St & 6th Ave over the summer.
I happened to be walking by there last week and saw a new Korean food cart called Gobuki on the same corner with a similar menu. I asked if it was a new cart or just a new name (because Bapcha was originally called Bulgogi Cart before changing its name last year). No, this was a new cart with a new owner I was told. The woman told me they have been here for about 2 weeks.
While I’m sorry the 2nd cart didn’t work out for Bapcha, I was excited to try a new Korean food cart, and finally got back there today for a NYSF First Look.
As I usually do with a new cart, I asked what they recommended, and it was bulgogi, which was available over white rice ($7) or on a hero ($6). I opted for the rice, even though the bread looked pretty good too.
You can also get galbi (short rib), spicy chicken, fried udon (noodles), udon soup and fried dumplings. She said they might do more noodle dishes or soups in the winter, like ramen. I told her that would be great. You can see their menu here.
Click through to see how our First Look was, and you can even find out what Gobuki means.
To answer the second question, she told me Gobuki means “turtle” in Korean, which was a reference to their hope the cart will have a slow and steady existence. I asked if they serve turtle, and she laughed and said no. Turtle is a popular food in the Cayman Islands, but that’s pretty strange considering it is their national symbol.
She asked if I wanted it spicy, and you can see the hot sauce on the meat in the photo. They also sprinkled a few sesame seeds on top, which I like.
The bulgogi had an underlying sweetness to it, which comes from the marinade. While every bulgogi recipe is different, the meat is often marinated in a mirin-type rice wine and/or a rice vinegar.
There was a lot of grilled beef and onions in this platter for $7. Bulgogi recipes don’t generally use the best cuts of meat, as the marinade is used to both flavor and tenderize the meat – but there was no fat or other funky stuff in the meat. Every bite was good. The hot sauce also had a nice kick to it.
The rice under the bulgogi was kind of clumpy, but I believe that’s intentional. The rice seems to be like that at every Korean vendor, as opposed to Indian and Middle Eastern rices which don’t stick together. This way it makes a good base for the beef and hot sauce.
On the side was a slaw that had a dressing similar to thousand island, but with a little chili powder mixed in. It wasn’t too spicy, but more so than thousand island dressing. I really enjoyed the crunchy, refreshing slaw after the bulgogi. It was much better than those crappy salads served at many of the carts.
Today’s Lunch at Gobuki was very good, and I will certainly be adding Gobuki to the NYSF Directory this weekend. I will be trying other dishes very soon – with galbi and dumplings at the top of the list.