BEST KOREAN RESTAURANT (2003)
Tabletop Grill & Sushi
The last time we tried cooking at home, we caused a fire (okay, so flaming dishes don't belong on wooden tables). Then, we went to Tabletop, where the staff actually encourages us to play with flames, because we cook our own food at the table, on centerpieces of shiny stainless-steel grills. We can grill our own bulgogi, thin slices of rib eye marinated in sugar, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil and possibly kiwi (the fruit's acidity acts as a tenderizer). The thin slices cook in minutes, and under the careful supervision of our server, no one gets hurt. There's so much to love about Korean food, and it's all found here: dozens of kimchee snacks, and ginseng kalbi (marinated barbecued beef short ribs on a sizzling platter to be rolled with thick red-chile paste, onions and sliced jalapeños like a Korean taco). Unless we're Korean, this is a place where it's expected to ask questions -- why do some dishes come with scissors, for example. But the staffers are always happy to answer, happy to demonstrate, and discreet enough with their handling of the fire extinguisher that we feel no shame.