TravelNoise: Turntable Rock Cafe, New York City

11 Dec 2018

If you ever get to walk through Koreatown, you might be overwhelmed by the plethora of options that are begging for you to choose. We’d even encourage you to try them all — if you had the appetite and the budget. But first things first, we’d tell you to go to Turntable Rock Cafe.


Industrial, quirky and welcoming, the restaurant was calling to my guest and I before we had even stepped foot inside. Old movies were screened on the wall, speakers and records were pumping out catchy music on a platform above the seating area and the exposed kitchen sent waves of aromas over us temptingly.

Our host led us to one of the modern, simple baby blue metal tables and walked us through the inventive menu of cocktails and drinks. We were eyeing some of their craft cocktails, but at the last minute we noticed they had seasonal alcoholic slushies in two “colors”: pink and yellow. The pink slushie was bright and floral, pronouncing gin as clearly as the vivid color, while the yellow slushie was more muted, beachy and sweet.

We could’ve just come for the drinks alone, but our expectations were too high to stop there. We opted to share the seasonal watermelon salad with baby arugula, feta, mint, almond and Champagne vinaigrette ($11), which was a perfect balance between sweet and savory with that lovely crunch element, thanks to the almond.

You should know that while the appetizers and salads are all incredible (our seasonal salad included), you should prioritize the chicken. Trust us on this one. We started off with the crispy popcorn chicken ($13), tossed in a sweet chili glaze, orange zest, sesame seeds and chives. It was sweet, crunchy and juicy on the inside — everything popcorn chicken should be. But we didn’t stop there. We also ordered the Korean fried chicken with soy garlic flavor ($11). The chicken was ethereally crispy with a sweet soy taste and enough umami flavor to go around.

Because it was a special item and because we didn’t have enough fried things, we decided to end our meal with the crispy injeolmi, which is a variety of Korean rice cake. This dessert was topped with soybean powder, sticky stick, crispy flakes and gelato. If you’re not familiar with it, all you need to know is that it tasted like a funnel cake, but better, and covered in decadent ice cream. You sold? Yeah, we were, too.

I now have a favorite joint in Koreatown, and it’s Turntable Rock Cafe. If you’re not a slushie person, you’ll still love the chicken to death. And even then, just stop by and try their dessert. We can’t say we walked out skinnier than when we walked in, but our hearts were full (and maybe clogged!), and that’s really all that counts.

Address: 20 West 33rd Street, New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 714-9700

Sami Allen