Food Gallery 32: At Long Last, a Korean Food Court

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I’ve never liked food courts. I’ve yet to find one where the “bounty” makes up for the lack of quality. And they also seem to be governed by a universal food-court-design aesthetic … bright lights (all the better to choose, I guess), fast food counters - you know the deal. What else is not to like? As behavioral economics has shown time and time again, maybe it’s that I just can’t deal with too much choice.

Too much choice paralyzes me, or in this case, causes me to shuffle back and forth for at least ten minutes, while watched alternately by overeager “pick me” staff or glazed-over looking fellows. Anyway, as food courts go, it’s not bad. It’s more like a premium food court: clean, hip, there’s plenty of space, and it’s fast. But therein lies the problem: because it’s premium food court, it’s not that cheap.

So while many might compare this to the nearby Woorijip, I’d actually compare it more to any of the many sit-down restaurants on 32nd street. I can see Food Gallery 32 winning out over a sit-down restaurant in specific situations (indecisive larger group or perhaps solo dining) but for me, I think a traditional sit-down restaurant wins out at this price point.

But for those of you who can deal with choice, choice you do have. There's a range of vendors, from traditional Korean food, to Korean fusions (Korean take on Japanese food, Korean take on Chinese food, etc). My dining companion and I sampled a classic dish from Hanok and I, an omurice from Pastel. Both, satisfactory.

The Vendors

Pastel - Korean/Japanese style Western food
Hanok - Korean food
Noodle 32 - Korean noodles, ramen, etc
Bian Dang - Taiwanese food
Jin Jja Roo - Korean style Chinese food
Boon Sik Jip - Korean Snack food, street food
O-de-ppang - Korean style Japanese food
Red Mango - Yogurt
Crepe Monster - (Upstairs) Crepes

For vendor menus, see SeriousEat's coverage.

The Atmosphere: A tri-level wonder, and yes, brightly lit, with seating on a mezzanine level as well as a larger floor with a cell phone shop upstairs. When I went, a common checkout area was up front, though apparently that registered some complaint. Since then, apparently they have reconfigured the setup somewhat. They also sell some banchan. Picked up a few jars of a hip looking brand called “The Kimchi Company.” Not bad.

The Slurp’s Dining Notes: Go or No Go? Not a destination, more if you happen to be around K-town and want to try something new, or are eating with someone and can’t settle on one place

Best For: A workday lunch; a quick solo dinner; a quick casual meetup with a friend

Food Gallery 32
11 W 32nd St
(btwn 5th Ave & Broadway)
New York
, NY 10001