Ko Gu Ryo
1087 Jericho Tpke. Commack, NY 631-670-6899
Commack's Ko Gu Ryo specializes in Korean tabletop barbecue as well as traditional Korean cuisine. Whether dining for lunch or dinner, here you can partake in a traditional Korean barbecue at a portable tabletop burner.Hours: Lunch, Tuesday to Friday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., dinner, Tuesday to Thursday 3to 9:30 p.m., Friday 3 to 10p.m., Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Ambience: Good Service: Good Credit cards: Accepted Accessibility: Steps at entryway Notable dishes: Korean-Chinese kan pung gi, gopdal bibimbap, mapu tofu
At the new Ko Gu Ryo, Gyeong Hee Moon is a virtual whirlwind, greeting you warmly, showing you to your table, taking your order and -- since she is also executive chef -- disappearing regularly into the kitchen.
What comes out of that kitchen is generally quite commendable. First, to take the edge off your hunger, comes banchan, an assortment of Korean pickled vegetables whose flavors are assertive but not harsh.
At lunchtime, a Korean-style bento box stars bulgogi, thinly sliced marinated beef, accompanied by savory fried meat dumplings and a vibrant cabbage salad. Another box features japchae, clear slippery cornstarch noodles with vegetables. This is the kind of food that makes you want to return.
Dinnertime, Moon recommends a bottle of Korean white wine, which turns out to be rice wine made with ginseng. While it takes some getting used to, it somehow pairs nicely with haemul pajeon, a big, fluffy comforting seafood pancake, served cut into wedges. A big success is the Korean-Chinese kan pung gi, nuggets of fried chicken glazed with a slightly spicy garlic sauce. Another hybrid dish is seafood kan ja jang, noodles tossed in a dark brown sauce laced with pieces of shrimp and squid. It needs a bit more seasoning -- and seafood.
If you want to partake of traditional Korean barbecue at a portable tabletop burner, know that at least two people in a party have to order the genre, a restriction Moon does not make clear. Be very specific and call in advance or you, too, may get dak gui -- whose menu description reads "marinated BBQ chicken at the table" -- already cooked in the kitchen, a ringer for overdone chicken teriyaki.
Redeeming the restaurant is a first-rate gopdal bibimbap, the stone pot Korean classic comprising ground beef, vegetables and rice, which is crisped around the edges, giving each bite an irresistible crunch. A spicy sauce, served on the side, can be mixed in to taste. Another winning number is mapu tofu, the soft tofu bathed in a slyly fiery sauce.
While there's no dessert, a cup of tea works very well. And, once a few kinks are ironed out, so should this charming Korean newcomer.