Birthday & Anniversary Dinner: Jungsik (NYC)

“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.

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We started off ordering two non-alcoholic drinks: a yuzu spritzer and an elderflower one, both refreshing and good in their own way.

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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.

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Next came one of my favorite dishes of the night, the bulgogi egg.

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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.

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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!

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Fried oyster: This was yet another amazing dish, with the oyster encrusted with black ink.

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Octopus: This was nicely charred, and was not chewy but crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

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The meal was interrupted by bread and butter (and salt!)

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Our server asked if we wanted more bread. After that, the courses continued.

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Crispy red snapper: This dish was juicy and clean. We didn’t care much for the green aioli sauce though; reminded me of salsa.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Our server also brought out a chocolate dessert with “Happy Anniversary” and a candle on the plate.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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