Saturday reviews: Hidden gems in NYC: Food Gallery 32

Vivien Sweet, Staff Writer

Food Gallery 32

Location: 11 W 32nd St

Subways nearby: B, D, F, M, N, Q, R, W, 1, 2, 3 

Price: $

Category: Food

Best for: 2-6 people

 

When Friday night finally rolled around, the biggest argument my friends and I always used to have was which cuisine to eat. Some argued in stringent favor of Korean fried chicken, some were adamant about having Shanghainese soup dumplings, while others just wanted a bowl of ramen—and dessert wasn’t even part of the question yet. 

After years of debates that culminated in mediocre dinners with begrudged friends, I stumbled across a seemingly simple storefront in Koreatown called Food Gallery 32. Nestled between a karaoke lounge and a dessert cafe famous for its boba-topped bingsoo, Korean shaved ice, it’s easy to miss this food court’s awning. However, past the double glass doors that offer passersbys a glance into stalls serving everything from matcha tea custard to vegetarian tempura, lies arguably the most comprehensive Asian eatery in Manhattan. 

Sprawling three stories high, Food Gallery 32 is home to 12 booths featuring vendors of varying popularity. Kung Fu Tea, a popular international bubble tea company, has a station near the door, serving as the main drink spot in the food court. On the other hand, the booth Jian Bing Mang, which serves a Chinese dish called Zhajiangmian consisting of wheat noodles topped with beef and soybean paste, garners a smaller crowd of more experimental, older foodies. 

If you and your friends haven’t yet been fully introduced to the multifaceted world of East Asian cuisine, Food Gallery 32 is the perfect place to dive into all different styles of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese food. The selection ranges from traditional meals—such as Bibimbap, a Korean rice bowl topped with kimchi, vegetables, an egg, and more—to more contemporary dishes, such as pocket buns, which are small pouches of dough stuffed with red bean, taro, beef, and other fillings.

A fair warning is that on weekend nights especially, the seating area can become quickly crowded, though tables do open up often due to the sheer number of seats. Although you and your friends could be surrounded by fifty or so people, the setting still feels intimate—nearly all parties are chatting casually (and sometimes boisterously) over Korean pop.

Bottom line is, even if East Asian cuisine isn’t exactly your cup of (bubble) tea, Food Gallery 32’s sprawl of cuisines is certainly worth a try. My favorite dish is from the booth Noona Noodles, which serves a flavorful bowl of Yaki udon: fried chewy noodles with marinated meat or tofu, vegetables, an egg, and soy sauce. And really, you can never go wrong with noodles.