Mapo BBQ, My Favorite Korean Restaurant on the East Coast
Many people ask my what my favorite Korean Restaurant is in the NYC area, and I always answer “Mapo BBQ in Flushing.” Even though I have to take the LIRR train from NY to Flushing to get there, I still go at least once every 2 months because it is that good. This restaurant has the best quality beef short ribs or “kalbi” around.
Why Mapo is Superior to all other Korean BBQ in the Tristate Area
I have been to almost all the Korean BBQs in NY, NJ, and MA. After eating many times at these restaurants, Mapo remains the clear winner because of the quality of the meat. People will travel to Queens to eat this from Manhattan because it is that good. This restaurant is actually more expensive per serving of meat, $40/serving, than most Manhattan restaurants, yet people are still willing to travel and pay more for the quality and taste.
The meat at Mapo it is bright red with great marbling. The meat is also a lot thicker than what you see in Ktown. It is obvious Mapo is going out of their way to get the best quality and not reusing old pieces of meat they could not sell from prior days. When meat is old it starts to look gray around the edges but I have never seen this at Mapo.
Many Korean restaurants try to hide the lower quality of their meat by selling only marinated “yang yum” kalbi. Because the meat is marinated in soy sauce it is harder to see the real quality. Mapo sells both “seng” unmarinated galbi and also the more common marinated version. The marinated galbi is my personal favorite. The rich marbling of the meat, coupled with the hot charcoal fire and sugar creates an amazing caramelized crust with succulent, tender, and juicy meat on the inside.
Charcoal: it is illegal for NYC restaurants to have charcoal grills indoors. Mapo uses the highest quality charcoal to give the meat the perfect sear and charcoal flavor.
Banchan / Side Dishes: the small side dishes Mapo provides gratis are among the best in the area. Everyone loves their steamed egg “gyeran jjim”, cheese corn, and soy marinated raw onions. They also include a doenjang jigae.
Directions to Mapo BBQ from Manhattan
Address: 14924 41st Ave, Flushing, NY 11355
Hours: Open Daily 11AM-11PM
Reservations: Call for reservation in advance, especially for large parties
Mapo BBQ Yelp Reviews
You can either drive and street park, take a cab, or take the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) from Manhattan. There is also a bus from 57th and Fifth Ave, but I do not recommend this because it takes too long and drops you off too far from the restaurant. I prefer the LIRR because you don’t have to worry about traffic or parking, it is cheaper than riding a cab (unless you are splitting with a large group), and it is faster than driving, takes 22 min.
LIRR Directions: Take the LIRR from Penn Station to Murray Hill. Make sure to be in the last 4 cars of the train, you can only access the Murray Hill stop from these last four cars. The train leaves once every 20 minutes during peak hours. The Murray Hill station is right next to Mapo BBQ, so you can just walk to the restaurant from the train station in two minutes. During Off Peak Hours a one way ticket is $4.50, if you choose the one day city pass option. You can buy the ticket on your phone through the LIRR app or buy the ticket at the station from the same machine you use to purchase metro cards. Tickets can also be purchased on board with cash however there is a hefty surchage so it is better to purchase tickets in advance.
Recommended dishes: 1.5 servings of marinated kalbi per person and 1 bowl of nengmyeon for every 2 people
Mapo Does not usually provide itemized receipts, so if you require one make sure to ask for one at the start of the meal.
Price/Person: Last time I went in a group of 8. We ordered 11 orders of kalbi ribs, 2 nengmyeon cold noodles, 8 beers, and 1 soju. The total came out to $80/person including tax and tip. $80/person for Korean food may sound very expensive at first but the order included over 1 order of $40 ribs/person, sides/banchan, and alcohol. Each serving of ribs is similar or a bit larger than an entire portion of steak at a steakhouse.
Credit Cards:2 Credit Cards are accepted per group.
Price Range: $40 for one serving of kalbi. Most people will eat 1.5 servings of kalbi.
Tips for Dining at Mapo BBQ
1. Mapo allows BYOB for alcohol they do not already carry. It is nice to bring a good bottle of whiskey or wine to enjoy with the Korean BBQ.
2. If you are coming to NY from JFK or LaGuardia it is nice to eat this on your way back to the City. Especially if you travelled somehwere with no Korean food and are craving it.
3. If you want dessert or coffee after your meal, there are 2 cafes within 5 minutes walking distance.
4. If you are taking the LIRR back to the city, make sure to check the schedule so you don’t miss the train. The train comes once every 20 minutes during peak hours.
Highest Quality Korean BBQ Beef Ribs on the East Coast
The Popular “Banchan” or Side Dishes at Mapo BBQ