At night Koreatown is Manhattan-- packed restaurants, backed up valet stands, lines out the doors to even the diviest BBqs. By day, it's a different story. You might be the only customer. You'll see the families behind these family-run places. You'll see the servers plucking the stems off a haystack of sweet peas piled on a dining table. Or you'll see this: the daughter sitting alone in a place that by midnite wll be crammed full of hipsters. She'll be watching educational cartoons in English. Her immigrant parents will be peeling a pile of fishy-smelling brown roots, getting ready for the dinner rush. And the girl? She'll be going to medical school.
I took this picture when I had a lunch meeting at Yan Bian on 3rd and Western Friday afternoon. We were the only customers. We let the owner bring us three of her favoirte Korean-Chinese dishes, all of them spiked with pointy red chilis. My favorite things: Spicy chicken. Beef with mushrooms and chili. And this picture.