New Jersey’s best kept secret is that they have a better Koreatown than the one across the Hudson in NYC.
What to know
Palisades Park, or “Pal Park” as the cool kids call it, has some neat things. Here’s what you need to know about it.
- Located near Fort Lee in Bergen County, this Koreatown offers food just as good or better than the one in New York at half the price.
- It’s one of the largest and fastest growing ethnic Korean enclaves outside of Korea.
- The area is 65% Korean, the highest density in the western hemisphere.
- Broad Avenue stretches the length of it, which some call the “Korean food walk of fame”, but you don’t have to do that.
- It’s in a suburb so expect it to be quiet on weeknights.
- The streets are super clean, safe and walkable.
- Most parking on Broad Avenue is metered, but you can park on side streets as well.
- There are Korean businesses all around the area off Broad Ave, so make sure to explore for some very hidden gems.
- Many restaurants and bars are staffed by second generation Korean Americans, so no need to speak the language.
- There’s a huge spa that will help you unwind to levels of relaxation you never thought possible.
- They even have a Korean mayor and ChengKwanJang, so you know it’s the real deal.
Read on for all the best ways to enjoy Koreatown in New Jersey.
Where to stay
Hyatt Place Fort Lee
While you’ll find more places to stay in cities like Boise, Idaho, North Bergen County is a suburb.
Hyatt Place Fort Lee is your best bet for a pleasant stay. Located on the outskirts of Koreatown, it’s one of the nicer hotels in the area.
What to do
Korean festivals and cultural events
Korean Harvest & Folklore Festival
The Korean Produce Association organizes a festival in early October from 10am to 10pm.
New Overpeck Park, NJ
111 Challenger Road, Ridgefield Park, NJ 07601
Try out more than 100+ trendy lifestyle brands from South Korea in late September to early October. The event is organized by KOTRA New York and includes Korean beauty (skincare, makeup), fashion, food, and baby brands at the American Dream Mall.
1 American Dream Way 1st Level, Court A, East Rutherford, NJ 07073
Korean cultural organizations
Dubbed KAANJ for short, it’s a non-profit organization that promotes Korean culture and encourages deeper interactions between the Korean-American community and the greater public.
They’re pushing for a public holiday for Kimchi, so you know they mean business.
It was founded in the year 2000 to help Korean students and further the development of the academic community.
They offer services like culture & education, outreach, health & social services, and civic advocacy for a better community.
100 Grove St, Tenafly, NJ 07670, United States
They help seniors avoid the need for premature reliance on government health services while living dignified and independent lives. Very cool.
133 Fort Lee Rd, Leonia, NJ 07605, United States
There aren’t any big pavilions or hanok in Palisades Park, but they do have a few Korean monuments.
A bronze plaque dedicated to the memory of comfort women was put up in front of Palisades Park Library, the first of its kind in the USA.
There’s also a memorial dedicated to the victims of the Sewol Ferry disaster at the library.
257 2nd St, Palisades Park, NJ 07650, United States
Palisades Interstate Park runs along the Hudson River and is a great place to go for a stroll.
Alpine, NJ 07620, United States
Highwood Hills Park is the lesser-known location for an easily-accessible dose of nature. It’s a great place to bird watch and spot deer.
Highwood Hills Park, Highwood Ave, Leonia, NJ 07605, United States
Grand Billiard is the place for hours of fun without spending too much cash. It has tons of tables and a good mix of ajeossi and non-Koreans.
61 Grand Ave, Palisades Park, NJ 07650, United States
Drinking is considered an activity in Korea, so I added it to the list. Duri Pocha is a casual and affordable place to get your soju on with some great anju.
441 Broad Ave, Ridgefield, NJ 07657, United States
Swinging swords is never out of style.
HMK Kumdo Academy is where you can learn the Korean art of slicing things up in Palisades Park.
603 Broad Ave, Ridgefield, NJ 07657, United States
King Spa is the largest and most famous jjimjilbang in the area. With 3 floors of relaxation and some questionable choices in decoration, this is the closest you’ll get to an authentic Korean spa experience in New Jersey.
321 Commercial Ave, Palisades Park, NJ 07650, United States
SoJo Spa Club is a bit south of Palisades Park, but it offers a less authentic but more upscale spa experience.
660 River Rd, Edgewater, NJ 07020, United States
400 Bergen Blvd, Palisades Park, NJ 07650, United States
Get your hair done
118 Broad Ave N1, Palisades Park, NJ 07650, United States
What to eat
Broad Ave is a good place to start. If you’re willing to go off the beaten path, check out Yea Jip BBQ 옛집 for one of the better KBBQ places in the area. The quality of meat is higher than you’d get at an AYCE joint.
235 Main St, Fort Lee, NJ 07024, United States
Insider Tip: Koreans don’t really believe in food allergies, so be sure to mention anything that you can’t eat to your server.
Wild sesame is tricky to find in Korea, let alone in another country. This restaurant run by two grandmas serves up a variety of Korea noodle dishes, with the star being dulggae kalguksu, the closest you’ll get to a cream sauce in Korean cuisine.
It’s savory and rich while being healthy.
339 Broad Ave, Palisades Park, NJ 07650, United States
What to buy
Korean red ginseng
Not red Korean ginseng! ChengKwanJang is the largest chain for Korean red ginseng. It has health benefits including natural energy without the crash after.
436 Broad Ave, Palisades Park, NJ 07650, United States
HanNam Mart is the big box Korean grocery store in Palisades Park. It’s less crowded than H-mart and is more popular among locals.
1475 Bergen Blvd, Fort Lee, NJ 07024, United States
An all-natural diet shake that works great as a meal replacement. It’s simply ground up grains and beans that are super healthy and filling. Look for a mill for the fresh stuff, or check out a Korean grocery store.
Bapdoduk (rice thief) has a nice selection of side dishes that go great with rice. They’re the best way to lose weight while enjoying your meals.
446 Broad Ave, Palisades Park, NJ 07650, United States
Where is Koreatown in New Jersey?
It actually spills over the imaginary border into adjacent streets. You can find Korean businesses all over Bergen County and beyond.
When and why did Koreans end up there?
Koreans and other Asian ethnic groups started coming to Bergen County in the 1980s. They came mainly because it was cheaper and safer than New York, which was basically the Purge back then.
It helped that there was ample public transport into the city, so they could commute easily. Once they got a foothold, Koreans just started flocking to the area because it was already established.
If you’re planning on going to upstate New York, check out some things to do in Saratoga Springs. Fall is a great time to enjoy the foliage in Saratoga Spa State Park.
Do I need to tip here?
While tipping isn’t a thing in South Korea, you should follow local tipping customs at Koreatown in New Jersey.
Where can I park here?
There’s metered parking on Broad Avenue and free parking on some side streets.
What are some cool things I can do in Koreatown?
Did we miss anything?
Let us know your thoughts about Koreatown in New Jersey!