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Woo Lae Oak

Note: Woo Lae Oak closed at the end of May 2011, when it lost its lease.


A friend of mine absolutely swears by Woo Lae Oak, a Korean barbecue restaurant in Soho. At her suggestion we gave it a try last week. The space is large, the vibe dark and sexy, the tables generously spaced. Though there were just two of us, we were seated at a four-top, with partitions separating our table from those on either side of ours. It almost felt like a semi-private room.

She steered us clear of the appetizers, based on past experience. There are some 17 barbecue choices, priced $18–39, of which we selected two: black tiger prawns and sliced beef rib eye (both $24). Cook-it-yourself food is always plenty of fun. We were particularly impressed with the rib eye’s intense flavor.

She selected a rice dish, Dol Sot Bi Bim Bap (steamed rice with vegetables in a hot stone bowl) ($18), again based on past experience, which was a spicy delight. Dinner also comes with a salad and garnishes, and with the two barbecue dishes this probably would have been enough.

But we also ordered the black cod and daikon radish in a spicy, sweet garlic soy sauce ($28), which was superb, ranking right up there with Nobu’s famous preparation. I would run back to Woo Lae Oak for this dish alone.

We didn’t drink alcohol. Dinner for two was $102 including tax, before tip. I don’t believe I’ve tried Korean barbecue anywhere else, so I can’t make comparisons, but Woo Lae Oak was plenty of fun, and we were quite happy with our meal.

Woo Lae Oak (148 Mercer Street between Prince & Houston Streets, SoHo)

Food: **
Service: **
Ambiance: **
Overall: **

Reader Comments (2)

You found a great place! As someone who has spent way too much time in Seoul, I can assure you that Woo Lae Oak is the real deal, albeit in a refined, expensive LA/NY mode.

June 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGreermao

Woo Lae Oak is my favorite casual restaurant. The food is incredible and the service and ambiance are perfect for a night out with the girls or a romantic, fun night out with the boys. The glass noodle appetizer is to die for and the filet is out of this world.

June 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

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