No One Makes a Burger and Tots Like Nowon in Alphabet City

2021, Jul 17

‘Twas a hot, sticky afternoon in the East Village, the kind where one’s priorities are, first, getting a cool place to sit, and second, ordering good stuff to eat.

Walking home from Tompkins Square Park, I found both criteria satisfied at Nowon — a Korean-American fusion restaurant with fan-equipped outdoor seating booths and an exciting, wide-ranging menu of expertly-executed comfort dishes.

NoWon’s Legendary Cheeseburger steadily built buzz throughout the maelstrom of 2020 and is now considered one of the best in the city; naturally, I had to try this landmark. After a firm recommendation from my waitress, I also ordered a side of honey butter tater tots, as well as a watermelon slushy drink which arrived first and — how would the youth say? — was absolutely FIRE.

The Legendary Cheeseburger, once arrived, was beautiful to behold — smash-griddled patties, American cheese, kimchi mayo and bread-and-butter pickles nestled together on a sesame seed bun, like a new-school Big Mac.

However, I didn’t even touch the burger until I had eaten about half of the sweet, crunchy honey-butter tater tots. Each tot was made all the richer by the accompanying labneh and seaweed dip, which reminded me of a creamier version of sour-cream-and-onion dip.

Once I settled into the burger, I was not disappointed — the crispy-griddled patties and cheese came together like the best possible backyard BBQ burger, with just a bite of spice from the kimchi mayo. The burger was easily in the top three I’ve had all year, neck-and-neck with the similar smash-style patties at Smashed.

I would give the entire Nowon experience a 9.2 out of 10; fast table service, incredible burger, A+ tater tots, and that refreshing watermelon slushy — did I mention it was FIRE? I plan on coming back here with friends and ordering up a medley of signature dishes, including the chopped cheese rice cakes, skillet pork belly, and ‘Big Bird Bun,’ and having ourselves a beautiful Alphabet City family-style Korean-inspired feast.

Hot vax summer continues!

Until next time.