Best K-Beauty, K-BBQ and K-Pop Stops


The Hallyu wave is strong on American shores, and if you’ve become a purveyor of Korean cultural exports, a visit to Koreatown in New York is a must on your travel bucket list. If you’re a newbie to all the delights of K-culture, don’t worry too much about Manhattan’s K-town; it’s a manageable couple of blocks of food, beauty, and bustling culture.

Located between 5th and 6th Avenues and 3rd and 33rd Streets, New York’s K-town is adjacent to the Empire State Building and is full of barbecues and shops you can only imagine. If you want to spend a day in this little pocket of Korea, read on to maximize your time.


In the morning

If you’re starting your day in K-town, head to Afternoon K-Town for a delicious morning mochi donut or, if you’re feeling up to it, a famous Korean corn dog. Mochi donuts are incredibly Instagrammable and feature bright colors and patterns, while corn dogs include fun surprises like cheese or potatoes.

If that seems a little daunting at first, try French-Korean bakery chain Tous Les Jours. The bakery offers an array of pre-packaged cafeteria-style, choose-your-own baked goods, including their famous sausage rolls, red bean rolls, and yuzu pies. Tous Les Jours also makes creative coffee or tea drinks and often offers specialties that reflect the season, such as a pumpkin spice latte in the fall or a lavender latte in the spring/summer. A great take-out option if you only stop in K-town for a little treat.

Even if you don’t do the million-step skincare that K-beauty is famous for, there are so many fun (and effective) skincare products to buy in K-Town. If personal care and skincare is what you’re in the market for, The Face Shop should be your main stop. They sell everything from toners to emulsion packs, creams to mists. Perfect makeup things for your future trip!

There are so many choices and brands, all packed with the most aesthetically pleasing packaging you can imagine. It may seem overwhelming, but there are always salespeople in the store to help you. It’s also a great stop for any fans of BTS or Kakao characters – the shop has a great selection of K-Pop merchandise and plushies.

Want something a little less overwhelming? Besfren Beauty has a curated selection of K-Beauty skincare that still gives you plenty of options with very little to no overlap between this store and the Face Shop. The shop is bright and airy and also has a small selection of makeup. They often have deals like “Buy one, get one”, so watch out for signs on the shelves!

If you’re hoping for a one-stop-shop, look no further than the combined stores of Kosette Beauty Market and Koryo Books. Although they are two separate stores, the storefronts are contiguous, allowing you to move around easily.

Kosette Beauty Market is equal parts skincare, haircare, bodycare, and makeup, so you can find all kinds of K-Beauty miracles here. They also offer the latest hair accessories from Korea, including pearl-encrusted scrunchies, rhinestone hair clips, and funky barrettes.

There’s so much more to Koryo Books than just books (although if you want Korean language learning books, this is a great place to try!). This shop is filled to the brim with Korean culture trinkets like fans and small desktop statues, but most importantly, it’s filled with K-Pop swag and cute Korean stationery. Every band imaginable is represented in their K-Pop stock, so you can walk away with the latest ATEEZ album as well as a holographic notebook.

K-BBQ dinner

Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s time to hunt for the best barbecue. If you are an adventurous eater, then one of the best K-BBQ places in K-Town New York is Gopchang Story. Gopchang is intestines, which sounds a little off-putting but in barbecue form is delightfully decadent. The constant waiting list for this restaurant is a testament to the quality of their food, so be sure to sign up for the waiting list on their website before heading there to ensure you get a spot.

Related: 10 best restaurants in Incheon South Korea

If the thought of their signature dish makes you feel a bit off guard, fear not, they have a menu featuring all your favorite Korean barbecue dishes, including galbi, bulgogi, and sampyupsal. Oh and of course all the little (free) side dishes Korea is known for, banchan. Even if you’re used to making Korean food at home, it’s different in a barbecue like this.

Still a little hesitant about gopchang? A short walk away is Jongro BBQ, a large and spacious restaurant that has so much more on the menu for everyone. The interior of the restaurant is reminiscent of a traditional Korean village, and all tables have grills that allow food to be cooked in front of you. The drink menu is also extensive, but of course includes world famous Korean soju and makkeoli (both rice wines but different consistencies and flavors). Like Gopchang Story, register online to join the waiting list!

Related: 10 Absolutely Delicious Korean Dishes, 10 Not So Delicious

Nocturnal adventures

Seoul and NYC are infamous for never sleeping, so you can find entertainment any time of the night. Korean karaoke culture is very present in K-town, with several karaoke bars lining 32nd Street. The same goes for Korean-style pubs that serve famous street food like tteukboki (spicy rice cakes), Korean fried chicken, and pajeon (savory pancakes). If you’re looking for that kind of adventure, Turntable LP Bar & Karaoke fuses late-night dining with fun music and karaoke. Oh, and if you’re feeling nervous, the restaurant has private karaoke rooms that you can rent out with friends, just like in Korea.


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