Sik Gaek is a Korean seafood and drinking restaurant in Flushing. It became semi-famous after it was featured on one of Anthony Bourdain’s episodes on the outer boroughs.
When a lot of people in America (even foodies) think about Asian restaurants they envision all of them being small rundown restaurants and street food. While that is certainly part of the restaurant scene in Asia, there is a whole side of Asia that is not often showcased in Asian communities in New York (I think this is likely because of the demographic of the immigrants here) such as high end upscale places, drinking establishments, modern restaurants etc. Sik Gaek reflects a small piece of this as it is supposed to resemble restaurants in Korea where you eat, drink and have a good time with your friends.
The restaurant is pretty busy looking with wooden walls adorned with posters advertising soju with famous star like Hyori on them and specials written in Korean on the walls. The crowd is mainly Korean. It’s quite loud with lots of loud conversations and drinking, but it is definitely a fun atmosphere. The service is generally pretty decent and I’ve always found the servers to be pretty nice.
On to the food:
At the beginning of the meal they bring you a few eggs that are fried in a pan. It’s pretty simple, but they taste pretty good when you put some gochujang (a semi-sweet Korean chili paste) on the eggs as gochujang goes really well with fried eggs. 7/10
Duk Boki (Spicy Rice Cake):
They bring you out a complimentary bowl of duk boki as well. Duk bok is a dish consisting of rice cakes and fish cakes cooked in a semi-sweet spicy sauce. While not the best version I’ve ever had, their version is pretty decent. 6.75/10
Steamed Egg Custard:
This dish is eggs cooked with a little bit of water and sugar in a small hot pot. It turns into a fluffy egg custard. It tastes good and it’s almost impossible to mess up because it’s so simple. 7/10
San Nak Ji (Live Octopus Sashmi):
This is my favorite dish here. It is octopus that has been sliced up right before they serve it to you. I’m sure this is going to freak a lot of people out because it’s still moving when they serve it to you. It is a misconception that it’s still alive, but it does still move because it was literally cut up right before it is served to you. The octopus obviously tastes very fresh, it’s not rubbery and I really like it with either the gochujang or the sesame oil with salt and pepper. You do have to chew it so it doesn’t stick to the side of your mouth since it is still moving (I can see about 80%+ of people reading this cringing and vowing never to order this). I recommend trying this as it is definitely my favorite dish here. 7.5/10
Steamed Seafood in a Sweet Pumpkin:
This dish was interesting. It was squid, octopus, shrimp and kabocha in a spicy red sauce covered topped with melted white cheese. Kabocha is called Japanese pumpkin, but is actually a type of winter squash. It’s orange, sweet and starchy (I love kabocha). It was interesting, I like all ingredients separately, but I couldn’t decide if I like them all together. You could definitely tell that it’s one of those dishes that someone probably invented in the last decade or so. It was decent, but not amazing. 6.75/10
Assorted Seafood Hot Pot:
This is a gigantic iron pot filled with about every type of seafood you can think of: lobster, clams, abalone, octopus, squid, oysters, shrimp and a bunch of stuff I’m forgetting now. It also has noodles as well. The broth is a light spicy broth. I generally like all the seafood, but because there is so much of it and the pot is so big inevitably some of it gets way overcooked. The broth turns out to be pretty tasty because the combination of the seafood flavor and the spicy broth is nice. This is a great dish to drink with as well. 7/10
At the end of the seafood hot pot, they put rice in the leftover stew and stir fry it with some dried seaweed and sesame oil. This is very tasty perhaps even more tasty than the actual hot pot itself. 7.5/10
This is a gigantic pot with water and just like the assorted seafood hot pot it has about every type of seafood you can imagine. I find the seafood easily gets overcooked and it’s too plain. I’m not much of a fan of this dish. 5.5/10
At the end of the steamed shellfish they use the remaining water that has now turned into a very light seafood broth and cook some noodles in it. It’s also better than the original dish as the broth is sort of refreshing and the noodles go well with it. 7/10
Overall, I don’t think the food at Sik Gaek is amazing, but some of the food is pretty good and it is a great place to go have fun and drink with friends.
161-29 Crocheron Ave
Flushing, NY 11358