New Kid on the Block: Gunbae

Gunbae facadeGunbae means “cheers” in Korean, but that’s not the word that defines the new establishment’s concept of a barbeque restaurant with an adjacent karaoke bar. “In Korea there’s a word that means ‘going up,’ meaning you dine on the first floor, and then travel upstairs for entertainment,” says co-owner Andy Lau. “There’s nothing like it in New York City—the two are always different entities. And this area needs both.” Lau, who lives in FiDi is also an owner of Bon Chon Chicken on John Street.

Gunbae dinner menu2The space bears little resemblance to when it was the Lilly O’Briens pub. You enter through a new storefront (with its distinctive metal O and a tree-shaped light credited to Gunbae Lover). Tables run the length of the room, which widens in the back. The 80-seat restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. (including a $21 prix fixe at lunch), and the emphasis is on grilling right at the table. You or your server can work the grill, depending on your preference and aptitude. And this is something you might not find anywhere else: In a week or so, you’ll be able to grill burgers, too.

Downstairs, there are four private karaoke rooms; three can handle around a dozen people, while the big one has space for 30. Walk-in karaoke is available from 5 p.m., and if you want to sing before that, you have to reserve. The 21,045-song list is not available online for advance perusal, alas, but there’s at least a smattering of Prince, some of us will be relieved to learn.

When I mentioned that I thought the tabletop grilling would be especially popular with kids who might otherwise get bored at a restaurant, Lau said that he has already seen evidence of it: “Families come in for dinner and then send the kids downstairs for karaoke.”

P.S. Gunbae is pronounced gun-bay.

Gunbae is at 67 Murray (between W. Broadway and Greenwich), 212-321-2500;

Gunbae cropGunbae small karaoke room2Gunbae large karaoke room2Gunbae karaoke menuRecent New Kid on the Block / First Impressions articles:
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  1. Exciting to have new food options in the area! Korean BBQ is awesome.

  2. Already making reservations for this week and perhaps a place for my Tweens birthday party?!?! How was the food? Did you enjoy it?