It was just last week that I was saying I avoid real hot dogs, and then here I am at the Korean Harvest Festival at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, with a hot dog in my hands… a real one. Despite conflicting reports about what exactly I could expect at the festival, I hopped on the #7 train on Sunday morning and headed out. It didn’t take long to find the right spot — a couple thousand Koreans milling around was a give-away.
There was some amazing-looking food to try, but the biggest draw seemed to be a stand with corn dogs, and this one with hot dogs. But these weren’t just any hot dogs. You had a choice of bulgogi or kalbi on top. As hot dogs go, it was big and juicy, nicely grilled. I opted for the bulgogi topping and was not disappointed. But I was kind of perplexed. What is this New York Hot Dog and Coffee place? Was it just a regular hot dog joint that has a couple of Korean-inspired specialties. According to Serious Eats, it’s actually a Korean chain of hot dog joints, and they just opened their first U.S. location (perhaps some time in the last month) on Bleecker Street in the Village. Wow, that’s cool. Now I am beginning to understand the crowds lined up for a hot dog at a Korean food festival.
A hot dog topped with grilled meat was not the strangest thing I ate yesterday. Not even close. I spotted this stand with some kind of stir-fry on the left, and those chewy Korean rice cakes on the right. The smells were fantastic, and I figured they would somehow combine the two things into one dish, maybe stir-fried veggies with rice cakes. Boy was I wrong. I got up to the stand and ordered whatever they were serving. As my food was being plated and I was handing over my money, I asked the guy what the stuff on the left was. He said something like, “Oh, I’m not sure, intestines I think, it should be really good.” Phew, okay, take it easy — just relax and take your food.
I found a spot to sit down. The food looked even yummier than before. It was packed with mustard seeds. I’ve tried a lot of Korean food in my life, but this was new to me. I went for it. The only thing I can compare it to is the beef tendon at Spicy & Tasty in Flushing. It’s a texture thing. The taste was great, but there is something so odd about it, you feel a little funny about eating it. Well, I ate quite a bit, but after a while I had to focus on the veggies and start pushing the intestines aside. Still, it was a cool experience, like a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I might post a bit more about this crazy festival soon, because there was a lot of cool food.