St. Marks Place, long dominated by head shops and Japanese restaurants, looks to be experiencing the first seedlings of a demographic shift. (Don’t worry stoners, the head shops aren’t going anywhere.)
This month, Pan celebrated its relocation from the K-town strip on 32nd Street and its grand opening at 13 St. Marks.
It’s just the latest Korean culinary incursion into Little Tokyo. In October, Han Joo, an offshoot of Han Joo Chik Naeng Myun & BBQ in Flushing’s Koreatown, moved in next to another relative newcomer, NY Tofu House, and across from fried chicken spot Boka.
Pan is a pojangmacha, or a Korean-style pub, that offers gigantic beers along with Korean drinking-food favorites like sizzling pork skillets, greasy potato pancakes the size of your head, and a spicy rice stew that’s stocked with chewy strips of pig tripe, tongue, ear, liver and head meat. Basically, this is the perfect place to eat off a hangover whilst developing a new one.
Hyo Jung, one of the servers there, indicated that they made the move in order to attract a more diverse clientele. “In K-Town there’s only Korean customers, but here we could serve more than just Koreans,” he explained. “I think Korean owners don’t only want to be stuck in K-town.”
According to Jung, the menu and industrial minimalist decor (cinder-block walls and long rectangular tables and benches) are mostly identical to the former incarnation, with a few small changes to accommodate the down-and-out downtown crowd.
“We changed the prices a bit to make things cheaper,” he said. “Because we looked around and found that all the other restaurants around here are a bit cheaper than Midtown.”
Of course, Korean establishments aren’t the only ones jumping into the mix on St. Marks. Last month we stopped into a Taiwanese newcomer, Iris Cafe, to devour its ice-cream-sundae toast castle.
Pan, 13 St. Marks Pl., nr. Third Ave.; (646) 449-0351