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)