I was going to say that Woorijip is the Yip’s of Koreatown (yet actually good) but really Woorijip is more like the Café Zaiya of Koreatown. Only Yip’s can be Yip’s.
Woorijip is geared towards Koreans and neighborhood office workers just happen to enjoy their grab and go lunch options where I’ve never seen a Chinese person ever perusing the steam table at Yip’s. Being my first visit, I was a little overwhelmed with choices and didn’t fully absorb all that was to be had. With refrigerated cases, warm cases, the self-serve buffet, dessert racks and supposedly an occasional noodle bar, this is the type of eatery that requires strategizing and more than one visit to develop a sense of what’s worth your time.
At the late-ish side of lunch, close to 2pm, the scene was less chaotic than anticipated. I got behind what appeared to be the Latino kitchen crew in line at the buffet. They were seriously loading up, mostly on meaty things and rice. Many of the trays were approaching empty, but I was at least able to survey based on signage what may be available on a typical day (not that it matters on a practical level since I’m in the vicinity during lunchtime like never).
Partially out of thriftiness and mostly out of caloric caution, I hit these buffets with the notion of supplementing granola bars, yogurt, fruit, nuts, soup, whatever I’ve brought from home to work. If all I ate were the above, I would be depressed and starving. Small, inexpensive quantities of random Asian food cheers me up.
I rarely go over $3.50 at Yip’s but they’re only $3.49 per pound after 1:45pm. Woorijip is somewhere around $6.50 per pound so I kept that in mind. I still managed to only spend $4.09 on some cellophane noodles, bean curd slab, stir-fried pork, fried squid and seafood pancake that all got smooshed around in the styrofoam container. It's not pretty to look at.
I also picked up a $3 plastic tub of radish kimchi, which totally smelled up the subway. I didn’t realize I was the stinky culprit until I got to my desk at work and noticed the odor was following me and didn’t stay behind in the subway system. The kimchi I’ll eat throughout the week with other stuff.
I would trade Yip’s for Woorijip in a millisecond. I love greasy Americanized Chinese food on occasion, but the spicier, cleaner flavors of Korean would be more welcome on a regular basis. Though in a totally different vein, I am excited to hear that Bon Chon is coming down to the Financial District.
Woorijip * 12 W. 32 St., New York, NY