Some tables at Gilmok, a Korean barbecue restaurant in Closter, have a round barbecue grill in the center. (Photo by Don Smith)
Some tables at Gilmok, a Korean barbecue restaurant in Closter, have a round barbecue grill in the center. (Photo by Don Smith)
Posted: Wednesday April 25, 2012
Now Open: Gilmok brings taste of Korean barbecue to downtown Closter

Gilmok, a new Korean barbecue restaurant in Closter, literally translates to "The Corner Place" – and the name is appropriate, because the restaurant is tucked into an angular building at the intersection of Closter Dock Road and Harrington Avenue.

The restaurant, which faces Closter’s large downtown clock, opened in December and has attracted a regular crowd, including many Korean customers.

Owner Daniel Chung has a background in international foods, but this is his first restaurant, and it fulfilled a personal wish to bring Korean food to America.

"I used to live in this neighborhood, but could never find a good Korean restaurant," he says. "We always would have to go to Palisades Park or Fort Lee."

A succession of restaurants preceded Gilmok at its corner location in recent years, including at least three that offered Asian cuisine: Mook Yung Wha, Bonga and Man Sun. But Chung is confident about Gilmok, which has "excellent chefs, and we don't use MSG," he says. "We use fresh produce every day."

Many of the larger tables at Gilmok have a round barbecue grill in the center, with ventilation fans overhead to draw out the smoke. Several private dining rooms are on one side of the restaurant.

At the tables, guests can cook a variety of meats to their desired temperature before tucking them into tender pieces of lettuce and adding extras from a myriad of small condiment plates.

The side dishes, called banchan, include kimchi, Korean fermented relish; marinated vegetables; spicy condiments and more.

For those unfamiliar with Korean barbecue, the wait staff will show guests how to assemble the traditional meal, although their English is somewhat limited.

Gilmok’s lunch menu features a variety of comforting dishes, including tofu stews, soups, spicy stews, noodles and bibimbap, the traditional Korean rice dishes. Korean pancakes made with seafood or kimchi are large and colorful.

Many of the lunch dishes are also on the dinner menu, but barbecue is the focal point in the evening. The menu features marinated and non-marinated meats, including the popular bulgogi; grilled beef ribs known as so-galbi; sirloin, marbled beef chadolbaekyi, pork and chicken. More adventurous palates can try markchanggui (grilled offal), seasoned pig skin, tripe and octopus.

Seafood dishes include agu-maeuntang, a colorful seafood stew, in addition to a variety of steamed fish entrées. Vegetarians will find a large selection of dishes made with tofu.

For diners who wish to try something other than barbecue, Gilmok offers "fusion" entrées such as pork cutlet; chicken cordon bleu; shrimp, beef or chicken fried rice; and even several spaghetti-based dishes.

Gilmok, The Corner Place

* 190 Closter Dock Road, Closter; 201-750-2400

* Cuisine: Korean barbecue; entrées $10.95 to $49.95

* Hours/days: Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., dinner: 5:30 to 10 p.m., even days

* Credit cards: All major

* Wine/liquor: BYO

* Parking: Street

Starters is a first look at recently opened restaurants. It is meant to be a descriptive glimpse, not a critical review. Send suggestions for Starters to sherrill@northjersey.com.