They call it the city that never sleeps. But as someone who works the night shift, I’m here to tell you that New York takes a little nap between 4 and 5 in the morning. At that hour, sanitation trucks are still blasting through stop lights as though no one important enough to matter is walking the streets, and bread trucks are more common than private cars. When I’m out there, it’s the end of my shift, and I’m looking for my last meal of the day. Usually a deli sandwich or diner food suffices, but occasionally I’m in the mood for something more exotic. And Korean beef bulgogi cooked right at my table always does the trick.

New Yorkers know that Korean barbeque can be had at any hour from any number of places on 32nd Street in Manhattan. Even though Little Korea is the real deal, sometimes I like to take in the full New York experience, so I drive out to Flushing where neither the proprietors nor the customers speak a word of English. Out there, my favorite 24 hour barbeque joint is called San Hai Jin Mi.


For at least two days before it’s ready to hit the hot plate, their beef bulgogi “sleeps.” Using the international language of wild gesticulations and melodramic facial expressions, I found out that “sleeping” at San Hai Jin Mi means marinating in soy, sugar, garlic, rice wine, pepper, sesame oil, and scallions. As it cooks before my eyes, the heavenly scent is enough to put me to sleep where I sit. The beef comes out tender and extraordinarily tasty, and I always head home more than satisfied.


At 4 a.m. in New York, a table full of spicy kim chi and hot beef bulgogi along with a cultural exchange is as good as it gets while the rest of the city takes its nap.

San Hai Jin Mi, 36-24 Union Street, Flushing, Queens 718-539-3274