“We have to take the 1.”
That was the only hint I got when I was on my way to meet him for dinner on my birthday. What could it be…?
JUNGSIK. New Korean fine dining in New York City; the first Korean restaurant in America to be awarded two Michelin stars. We had a choice between a la carte and their 9-course $160 tasting menu. Of course, we went with the latter.
We started off ordering two non-alcoholic drinks: a yuzu spritzer and an elderflower one, both refreshing and good in their own way.
Our server presented our amuse bouche on a black slab, with 4 little bites to tease our taste buds. There was a fried chicken, eel cigar, a broth that I could not catch the name of.
Next came one of my favorite dishes of the night, the bulgogi egg.
The egg was perfectly poached and the crispy rice added a texture that complemented the soft, well-marinated beef. It was one of the more distinctly Korean dishes and a great start to the meal.
Scallop: I thoroughly enjoyed the crispiness of the top, and was surprised to see that the inside was cooked to perfection, no rubbery meat here!
Fried oyster: This was yet another amazing dish, with the oyster encrusted with black ink.
Octopus: This was nicely charred, and was not chewy but crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
The meal was interrupted by bread and butter (and salt!)
Our server asked if we wanted more bread. After that, the courses continued.
Crispy red snapper: This dish was juicy and clean. We didn’t care much for the green aioli sauce though; reminded me of salsa.
The royal bibimbap: As soon as I heard the words “truffles” and “foie gras”, I dug in. It was a barley risotto with shaved black truffle. Definitely rich and hearty — I had a hard time finishing it.
Jungsik steak: Wagyu. Need I say more? Juicy, melt-in-your-mouth, soft, tasty, all around delicious. This was my other favorite of the night.
Watermelon: The series of desserts started with this refreshing sorbet as a palate cleanser; even though I’m normally not a fan of watermelon, I loved it.
Green tea cremeux: Dollops of different flavors and milk ice cream! The green tea cremeux was like a dense mousse with a rich matcha flavor.
Our server also brought out a chocolate dessert with “Happy Anniversary” and a candle on the plate.
Corn creme brulee: It’s not a typical creme brulee; the deceivingly thin layer of custard was soft, which made me savor the dessert more. The top was not the hard, stuck-in-your-teeth kind of caramelized sugar, but melted instantly once it hit my tongue.
After that, we thought it was over. But wait, not yet! Our server brought over an “anniversary bonsai”, with the top being a bonsai plant and the two trays below were filled with petit fours. There were macarons, more green tea and chocolate bites.
Overall, JUNGSIK was a great dining experience. Service was outstanding and the atmosphere reminded me a little bit of Alinea, although not as extravagant and interactive. Their dishes were all beautifully plated and I must say, worth the trip to the West side.