10 Things to Do in Koreatown, New Jersey: the Hidden Gem of K-towns

Lingua Asia_10 Things to Do in Koreatown, New Jersey

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.

Complete list of Koreatowns in North America

Read on for all the best ways to enjoy in Koreatown in New Jersey.

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.

Expect food, cultural events, and concert performances by elite Korean pop idols for anyone interested in experiencing the culture.

New Overpeck Park, NJ

111 Challenger Road, Ridgefield Park, NJ 07601

K-LIFESTYLE USA

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

Korean American Association of New Jersey

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.

Korean Parent Partnership Organization

It was founded in the year 2000 to help Korean students and further the development of the academic community.

Korean Community Center (KCC)

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

Korean American Senior Citizen’s Association of NJ

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

Korean monuments

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

Parks

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

Billiards

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

Soju bars

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

Kumdo

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

Korean spa

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

Noraebang

When the question is if you want to eat, drink, or sing noraebang and the answer is yes, Karaoke Rock 21 has you covered. It’s the best of both Korea and America.

400 Bergen Blvd, Palisades Park, NJ 07650, United States

Get your hair done

If you ever wanted one of those fancy perms you see on K-dramas, check out Kim Sun Young Hair Salon.

118 Broad Ave N1, Palisades Park, NJ 07650, United States

What to eat

Korean BBQ

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.

Chung Mok

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

Korean groceries

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

Misutgaru

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.

Banchan

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?

https://goo.gl/maps/cMGjz9WGVXFwtJJZA

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 like 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.

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.

Did we miss anything?

Let us know your thoughts about Koreatown in New Jersey!

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