Dok Suni's in the East Village is a pioneer of Korean cooking in New York

Become reacquainted with Korean cuisine

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A decade ago, New York Times reporter Florence Fabricant declared Korean food an "unknown" cuisine to New Yorkers, and went on to credit Jenny Kwak and her mother, Myung Ja Kwak, the former owners of Dok Suni's (and current owners of the West Village's Do Hwa), as among the gatekeepers that have made it accessible.

Crossing cultural barriers through atmosphere, location and menu, Dok Suni's, a dark and cozy East Village restaurant quickly established itself as a neighborhood institution when it opened in 1993.

Although the menu will not seem revolutionary to today's kimchi-savvy palates, it is staunchly composed of the classics that made the restaurant famous (and spawned its popular cookbook).

The usual suspects–bimbimbop, bulgogi and seafood pancakes–are offered in fine form, but the family recipes from the Kwaks' home village are what really shine. Tender strips of flour-dusted fried chicken are bathed in garlic-soy-jalapeño sauce, while slow-cooked pork ribs, sticky with marinade, are finished under the broiler until their edges achieve a sugary crispness. And the addictive D'uk-Bo-Ki–made with rice cakes resembling gnocchi–arrive on the table with a crimson stain of fiery red pepper.

Just don't come looking for deviation: Each dish is prepared the same way it was the day the restaurant debuted. And for Dok Suni, which translates to "strong woman," the resolute approach is entirely fitting.

Dok Suni's, 119 First Ave. (between Seventh St. and St. Mark's Pl.); 212-477-9506