Sik Gaek

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77 Solid

Eat live octopus and other super-fresh seafood at this cult Korean restaurant.

49-11 Roosevelt Ave., Queens, NY, 11372


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The lowdown

If The Little Mermaid’s “Under the Sea” ended with a fishing net scooping up all those sea creatures, the haul is what you’d get at this cozy seafood spot, nestled near the elevated 7 train. Its (in)famous sannakji (young octopus) is so fresh that it’s still squirming when it comes to the table. The must-have Empire Spicy Seafood Hot Pot ups the ante. Sure, it has baby octopus, too, but also clams, mussels, shrimp, snow crab, live lobster, live abalone, and an entire sushi-grade squid. There are almost more tentacles than udon noodles. A lobster claw may do battle with a live-octopus tentacle as it sizzles before you in the spicy red broth. But don’t gaze too long; the seafood quickly overcooks, so eat up fast (with half a dozen friends, preferably). Patrons are primarily Korean, but the restaurant has lured many an adventurous foodie since its sister location in Flushing hosted Anthony Bourdain and David Chang for an episode of No Reservations. Smaller groups can sample raw octopus in a simpler form: cut into still-moving bite-size 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. The spicy beef intestine soup is a solid sleeper hit, too. And if this description scared you off, start off with the beginners’ dish: 16 ounces of ddukbokki (spicy, stir-fried rice cakes).

What you need to know

Insider Tips Skip the canned Korean rice and cinnamon punches.

Recommended DishesEmpire Spicy Seafood Hot Pot; spicy beef intestine soup; seafood pancake; fresh octopus; spicy rice cake.

DrinksSake/Soju, Beer & Wine Only

Noise LevelCivilized