7 at 52nd St.
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The seafood at this cozy spot, nestled near the elevated 7 train, is so fresh that it’s still moving when it comes to the table. Sik Gaek is known for its young octopus, or sannakji, which has been caught so recently that its nervous system continues to function. Patrons are primarily Korean, but the restaurant has lured many an adventurous foodie since hosting Anthony Bourdain and David Chang for an episode of “No Reservations.” The eight-legged cephalopod appears in numerous dishes, but the most impressive is the fresh octopus hot pot: a wide cauldron, overflowing with just-killed and still-squirming creatures of the deep, which servers place on a burner embedded in the table. A lobster claw may do battle with a live octopus tentacle as it sizzles in the spicy red broth next to clams, mussels, shrimp, abalone, crabs and sea snails. The seafood quickly overcooks, so the first bites tend to taste better than the last. Finishing the hot pot requires eight to ten hungry people. Smaller groups can sample raw octopus in a simpler form: cut into still-moving bite-sized pieces and mingled with garlic cloves and slices of fresh jalapeño. Dip each writhing piece into the accompanying sauces, and don’t forget to chew.Note
Octopus is not available every night, so call ahead.Recommended Dishes
Fresh octopus hot pot, $99.99; seafood pancake, $15.99; fresh octopus, $24.99; spicy rice cake, $9.99