By now, you’re probably aware of the popular Scandinavian concept of “hygge” or coziness. That’s the word I’d use to describe my experience at Aquavit, the two Michelin star Scandinavian restaurant in Midtown run by chef Emma Bengtsson. High end lunches at restaurants of this caliber tend to feel pretty formal and efficient–order the prix fixe, then get in and out in less than an hour for your next business meeting–but at Aquavit, our meal felt relaxed and pleasant. With peaceful jazz music playing in the background and tasteful throws placed on the backs of chairs, the main dining room at Aquavit feels like a refined lounge that calls on you to put your feet up and enjoy yourself for awhile.Read More
New Yorkers who work in Midtown have it rough. 12 o’clock rolls around, and you’re sort of thinking, “Um yeah, which exciting quick service restaurant should I frequent today?” The number of stamps on your Hale and Hearty loyalty card is a sad testament to the monotony of your day-to-day lunch diet.
Kosofresh is shaking up the boring Midtown lunch scene by serving bowls of delicious Korean bibimbap to New Yorkers who have had it up to here eating another salad or sandwich. For those of you not in the know, bibimbap is a signature Korean dish that consists of a bowl of white rice topped with seasoned vegetables, marinated meat and a spicy chili pepper-based paste called gochujang. But really, you can put whatever you want into it. Bibimbap’s literal translation is “mixed rice,” meaning there are no rules for what goes inside except for your own. Which is perfect for New Yorkers, who, can we be honest, are a finicky, particular bunch! Gluten-free, vegan, Paleo, Atkins, all are welcome at Kosofresh’s bibimbar!
The fun of getting bibimbap at Kosofresh is that no bowl ever has to be the same. Building your custom bowl involves 4 steps, each with several options:
Step 1: Choose your base grain or greens. Available grains include white rice, brown rice or 50/50 of each. Low carb folks can safely stick to their regime with a bowl of lettuce, red cabbage or 50/50 of each. My recommendation – go old school and stick to white rice!
Step 2: Choose 4 toppings for your bowl. Options include bean sprouts, red cabbage, lettuce, egg, cucumber, carrots, Korean radish, corn and scallions. The roster can change depending on when you go, as Kosofresh likes to introduce new, seasonal toppings from time-to-time. You can spring a little more for the premium toppings of shitake mushrooms, kimchi, eggplant and almonds at $0.99 each. My recommendation – the Korean radish and the kimchi provide the unique, pickled flavors that are essential to Korean cuisine. Bean sprouts, cucumber, lettuce, egg and shitake are also good additions.
Step 3: Choose your protein–bulgogi (marinated beef), soy garlic chicken, spicy pork and tofu. My recommendation – you can’t go wrong with any of the fresh, well-marinaded meats, but my personal favorite was the bulgogi.
Step 4: Choose a sauce. Spicy or mild gochujang, or ko-soy sesame. My recommendation – go big or go home, get the spicy gochujang! I’m a spice wimp and it wasn’t bad for me at all.
What was in my bowl? I’ve tried several iterations, but here’s a picture of the bowl I created on Thursday. Spicy pork with bean sprouts, Korean radish, shitake, egg and kimchi over white rice, drizzled with some mild gochujang and sesame oil. Man, this really hit the spot for my Korean food craving. And it also took me back to my childhood days where after church service, the Korean moms would serve everyone bibimbap lunch and people would just go to town mixing and mashing stuff up in their delicious bowls. On another visit I swapped out pork for bulgogi and the mild for spicy gochujang–it was so good that I decided to make that my go-to combination for when I make a future visit.
Kosofresh is a great, unique and healthy addition to the Midtown lunch dining scene. With so many ways of creating a unique bowl, you’ll never get bored with weekday lunch ever again. Kosofresh is also looking to introduce things like burritos, bento boxes and pizza so that lunch can be even more interesting, and it will be available on Seamless soon. “Mmm, bap!” has such a nice, pleasant ring to it. For once, this downtown girl is jealous of her uptown peeps!
Kosofresh (2 locations)
830 Third Avenue (and 51st)
New York, NY 10022
101 Park Avenue (and 41st)
New York, NY 10178