K-Town isn't just for Korean food. During a recent visit, I found myself inside Dong Chun Hong, a Chinese-Korean fusion spot on Fifth Avenue near 32nd Street. A second location can also be found in Fort Lee, New Jersey. I was drawn in by the looks of the place. Crystal chandeliers, blonde wood paneling and curtains made of metal beads resembling something King Arthur might have worn.
The menu is split in two, with one side aimed at American tastes. Here you will find dishes with familiar sounding names like shrimp and broccoli, lo mein and Mongolian beef. Dig a little deeper and you will turn up more exotic fare like jellyfish, sea cucumber and Shark's Fin soup.
Our visit was filled with both hits and misses. A complimentary sea cucumber salad offers wonderful hints of soy and sesame oil. Bright yellow pickled daikon slices provide both color and crunch, while a bowl of wonton soup features silky pork-filled dumplings in a richly flavored broth.
Other dishes didn't appear to fare as well. A lowly spring roll proved to be a greasy mess. General Tso's Chicken, while pleasing to the eye, featured bland, lifeless chunks of chicken in a cloyingly sweet sauce despite an abundance of chilies. I found myself envious of other nearby tables feasting on oversized bowls of soup loaded with seafood, like the jjamppong, and noodle dishes piled high, like Jajang Myun, in a spicy black bean sauce. Servers armed with shears snip the noodles tableside to make them easier to eat.
I found myself intrigued by the dessert which comes with the prix fixe meal. Turns out it was a deep-fried potato wedge with a coating similar to what you might find on a candy apple. It's actually quite good. It also managed to put a smile back on my face.