Review: Anytime NYC Offers Up Innovative, Flavorful Korean Small Plates

Review: Anytime in New York’s Koreatown is innovative, Korean small plates

I’d been wanting to go to Anytime, a Korean fusion tapas restaurant located in New York City’s Koreatown for a couple months.

Then last week, I was really excited to finally have the opportunity to trek over to Anytime. The experience both met my expectations and didn’t meet my expectations in the same visit. I can’t recall a time when a restaurant flipped my opinion from one extreme to the other (in a good way), so I’ll be telling this story / review of Anytime in two parts.

Chapter One: The First 30 Minutes

We booked a reservation and was immediately seated around 8 PM. The place was jumping with servers crisscrossing the restaurant taking orders, serving food, filling waters and putting in work, etc.

We immediately ordered drinks with Server #1 and after they arrived, we weren’t ready to order and needed a couple minutes to figure out the menu. After a few minutes, we put our menus aside, enjoyed our sake and cocktails and were chilling; waiting to order. We chatted, drank and waited for our server to come back to the table, but they didn’t return. No matter it was busy so we understood (we were both previously servers). We waited some more and still no one came to take our order. Again, no matter, we thought we would just wave one of the server down to order. We did so once with server #1, she acknowledged that she saw my hand, so I thought we were good to go. We waited and watched her pass by our table a few times without stopping. That’s a little annoying, but again it was busy. So we waited some more.

I then waved down another server, Server #2, she stopped and acknowledged us again and without saying anything gave us an indication that she’d be right back. Server #2 went into the kitchen and didn’t return. At this point, I’ll admit I was getting a little bothered and thought this was odd behavior, but again it was busy and the servers could have forgotten even though Server #1 passed by us a couple more times in that time.

So when Server #1 walked by again, I raised my hand to catch her attention. She saw me again and non-verbally acknowledged our presence (I forgot how, but I think it might have been just eye contact and a nod).

What happened next turned a seemingly innocuous situation to full-blown disrespect.

Then we watched as Server #1 pass by our table (which was situated very much in the middle of the narrow part of the dining room) without stopping. Not only that, when she did come over, she cleaned the table right next to us; taking plates to the kitchen. Then she came back and wiped down the table without looking over once. Not just that, she returned again without a word to us to place settings on the table. Now these actions  infuriated me — this was no doubt in my mind, 100% her being stubborn, petty and letting us know who was in charge. Despite my feelings, I still held out small glint of hope that she would return.

No such hope. I watched her pass by another two times before I told my partner that if she passes by our table another three times without taking our order I would go to the host and manager whom were directly across from our table juggling checks and greeting new and exiting customers.

If you wanted to place bets on whether Server #1 came back to the table or not, now is the time put your wager down perhaps with this SugarHouse Sportsbook Promo Code. No surprise that the pattern continued. She passed our table again and again and again (and maybe again). So I got up from the table and spoke to the host about what’s been happening with Server #1 and gave them a ten second TL;DR version of events.

Chapter Two: The Last 45 Minutes

So the service at Anytime started out reaaaally funky due to the stubborn Server #1. She was very clearly  purposely avoiding our table with the restaurant definition of malicious. This one bad actor nearly ruined our entire experience at Anytime. Usually, bad service/employees are a part of a larger culture and I was ready to give this restaurant a lukewarm review depending on the food.
After talking to the restaurant’s host, he spoke with Paul, who we think is the manager of Anytime. Paul would take care of us the rest of the night and ensured our meal from then on out was excellent. And it was. Paul was amazing.
It’s unfair to Anytime that I spent 700 words explaining the service and not give more time to their spectacular food. My experience with “tapas” has been synonymous with overpriced small plates but Anytime’s squid ink popcorn chicken and their decadent version of tteokbokki with heavy cream, shaved cheese and cocoa weren’t small plates at all. Not just that, those two were our favorites of all the dishes we tried over two evenings at Anytime. The popular popcorn chicken was the right amount of crunchy with nutty flavors while the ddukboki was one of those dishes where the first taste makes your eyes go wide from the flavors. We enjoyed the tasty Bossam, which is braised pork belly, the unique Anytime Burger featuring marinated short rib and Hamachi Ceviche was fantastic, too.
We also ordered the stir-fried seafood and Spicy Agu stew, and though there was nothing wrong with the dishes, in the face of the more creative takes on the previous mentioned dishes, they seemed more of traditional flavors one would get at a standard (quality) Korean joint.
We would consider the portions more a small entree than what you’d expect from typical tapas-sized plates. On top of that, the dishes were delicious, mostly-innovative (to us, at least) and priced appropriately considering the portion we received. That’s all to say, the food was very very good and a couple of them are on our NYC-shortlist for dishes.
The food brought us back to life after a really funky start to the meal. Any residue from the first half of the meal was quickly smoothed over by Paul.
There are times when restaurants do the minimum to ensure that a wronged customer feels whole when they leave the restaurant — that includes offering free items, discounting the check, and above and beyond service. Paul did some of that and it felt good, but there were a couple genuine actions that he took on top of offering a free drink and giving us a free entree (tapas) that really signaled that they cared about us.
It’s worth mentioning that we never saw the host or manager speak to Server #1 while we were there so we think it’s interesting that Server #1 never once came back to our table. Not once to fill our waters or check in on us, but did come back to our area to take the order for the table that was seated next to us. The table that she so carefully and consciously set up while we were waiting to order (that table finished before us BTW).

Conclusion

To use a basketball reference, Anytime was trailing by 35 points the first half and they came back to win by 35. It was a historic turnaround for me.

Anytime NYC ultimately won us over with fantastic service and the crazy good food. To illustrate how well the second chapter convinced us to come back, we were back at Anytime two nights later. And we brought friend we otherwise would not have.
We had great service that second night from start to finish and the food blew the minds of our friends. They’ll likely be back, too. We too will come back to Anytime. It’s no small task, and no longer a surprise to us, that Anytime has nearly 800 Yelp reviews and a perfect five stars.

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