Eleven Madison Park’s 11 course menu (2017)

It’s been one year since I last updated this blog. I guess I’ll get back to it and start off with food. Last year, Eleven Madison Park offered an 11-course retrospective tasting menu featuring signature dishes from the years it’s been opened, for a limited time only. Named “The World’s Best Restaurant” of 2017, I booked a table right away, since I had never been there. Pro tip: ask for a tour of the kitchen. They brought us to the back after the meal was over and mixed us dessert cocktails! That was probably the highlight of the entire meal for me.

Eleven Madison Park

Gougère with grated gruyere (2006)

Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park

Sea Urchin – cappuccino with peekytoe crab and cauliflower (2006)

Eleven Madison Park

Little neck clam – clambake with velouté and parker house rolls (2011)

Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park

Prawn roulade with avocado and yogurt (2007)

Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park

Foie gras torchon with maple syrup and pain d’epice (2004)

Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park

Carrot tartare with rye toast and condiments (2012)

Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park

You have to put in a little work here, mixing according to your liking.

Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park

Turbot poached zucchini and squash blossom (2007)

Eleven Madison Park

Winter in Provence – black truffle, celery root, potato and chèvre frais (2009)

Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park

Suckling pig confit with rhubarb, leeks and cipollini onion (2010)

Eleven Madison Park

Milk and honey with dehydrated milk foam and bee pollen (2010)

Eleven Madison Park

Chocolate palette with peanut butter and popcorn ice cream (2008)

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More desserts.

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Eleven Madison Park

Complimentary apple brandy at the end.

Eleven Madison Park

Goodie bag with the menu and granola.

Eleven Madison Park

Travelogue: Louisville, Kentucky (Feb 2016)

Over President’s Day weekend, we flew to Indiana (we found cheap flights!) and rented a car to drive to Kentucky. Our goal was to visit Mammoth Cave National Park in Cave City, Kentucky.  The temperature was similar to New York, but with a blizzard on the way (we’ll get to that later).

Our first stop in Louisville, Kentucky: Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, one of the distilleries on the Bourbon Trail.

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We went on their tour ($12 per person), which included a tasting flight of 3 whiskies.

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The tasting occurs at the end of the tour in this room.

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Unlike wine, you don’t need to swirl to aerate… in fact, just don’t do it at all.

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I’m not a whiskey/bourbon drinker, but I enjoyed learning about the history and the making of them.

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Bourbon chocolate! I bought a box home.

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The gift shop had so many random things to buy… seasonings, glasses, apparel, and of course, bourbon.

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The Louisville Slugger Museum was nearby, and of course we had to take a picture of the giant bat.

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Lunch at Against the Grain Brewery and Smokehouse.

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They have their own beers… lots and lots of them.

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Amaaaaazing pork belly on sticks! And maple bacon popcorn. And beef jerky.

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And brisket.

Next, we went to the Derby Museum ($15 admission, discounts for AAA members!) to check out some horsies. There’s a half hour tour that takes you to the Churchill Downs Racetrack where the Kentucky Derby takes place.

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At the Derby, it’s all about the hats.

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Since it wasn’t racing season yet, they had interactive simulators where you can place bets on horses with a virtual ticket and see if you “win”.

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I didn’t win.

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He won.

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I rode this horse and won though.

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Secretariat!

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The resident horse… retired for 22 years…

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Old miniature horse. I felt bad for them because it was cold outside!

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We tried to make it to the other famous distillery, Bulleit, for their last tour but it was sold out. Last tour was at 3PM and they even had to make another tour at 3:30PM!

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Where our tasting would’ve taken place.

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So we walked around their gift shop.

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I, too, would like to journal about my whiskey experience.

The next day, we woke up early to go to Mammoth Cave for our scheduled tours.

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BUT they closed that day because of “weather”! Disappointed, we went to nearby Diamond Caverns. It was $17 per person for a one-hour guided tour.

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On the way out, we saw this:

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We were on the way back to Indianapolis, which should take 2 hours but…

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We got stuck in traffic and a blizzard for 6 hours instead.

To be continued…

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(Of course we had to have KFC in Kentucky)

Travelogue: Victoria, British Columbia (June 2015)

Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, Canada, and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada’s Pacific coast. From Port Angeles (Washington), we took the car ferry there. I reserved ahead of time here. Sailing time is 90 minutes. You just park your car and sit upstairs or you can walk around and take pictures.

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We arrive in downtown, Victoria, right by the water and close to Chinatown and the Parliament building.

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It’s pretty cool that there are houses right on top of water.

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Fan Tan Alley in Chinatown.

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The Empress Tea Room – I made a reservation ahead of time for afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress. We got a table by the window and I loved the whole experience. They treat you like royalty.

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The sandwiches were delicious!

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At the end, they gave us tea to bring back home.

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The Parliament Building.

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We bought a Groupon deal for half off admission to the Butterfly Garden — well worth it. You’re free to roam around and see butterflies up close.

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Right near the Butterfly Garden is Butchart Gardens. At this point, I had gone to so many botanical gardens that I didn’t find this extraordinary. However, it was still a nice place to visit and take a stroll through its many gardens.

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Prettiest garbage can ever.

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After that, we took the car ferry to Vancouver. This time, we took BC ferries from Swartz Bay (Victoria) to Tsawwassen (Vancouver). This ferry had more food and gift shops for you to enjoy, and even a cafeteria. You can reserve here. Make sure to check their schedules and time it so that you can enjoy a full day at Victoria. We got to see the sunset when we arrived in Vancouver.

Travelogue: Portland, Oregon (May 2015)

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Our first stop in Portland: Heart Coffee. The wait for Tasty n Alder was about 45 minutes, so we conveniently crossed the street to this cafe, which served delicious lattes…

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Such clean and minimalist decor, it made for a great lazy Saturday morning.

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Potato Bravas

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“Duck… Duck… Steak!” Best of the dishes.

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Flat Iron (Washimi Wagyu with garlic roquefort compound butter)

Tasty n Alder is one of the top brunch places highly recommended by almost everyone who’s been to Portland. However, on the last day (in a future post) I had an even better experience at Screen Door. Anyhoo, brunch is wonderful in Portland but expect a long wait if you don’t get there by opening time.

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I’m not really a donut person. When my friends told me to go to Blue Star Donuts instead of the overhyped Voodoo, I obliged. Only because this was on the way to the famous bookstore, Powell’s Books (where I purchased many souvenirs…)

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OK well, I gotta admit, this was a pretty good donut.

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After spending a lot of time at Powell’s, we stopped by the Saturday Market. There are two right across from each other.

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Mango!

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The International Rose Test Garden was one of my top things to see in Portland. It’s FREE, it’s huge, and it has a gift shop that sells rose tea (BUY IT!)

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A lot of variety of roses, all different colors and sizes… some were as tall as I was.

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We also stopped by the Portland Japanese Garden next door, which was tiny and cost $9.50 per person… not worth it in my opinion because I’ve been spoiled by the one in SF.

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There was a special exhibition the day we went though, so that made up for it.

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When in Portland, must go to Salt & Straw for ice cream…

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We got the 4 scoop sampler — I enjoyed the variety and creativity, but it wasn’t anything mindblowing.

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Tidbit Food Farm and Garden – a small “food pod”, as they call it. Food pods are Portland’s term for a group of food trucks. There are several, but I chose this one; it had the most vendors open on a Sunday.

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I chose Namu, a Korean and Hawaiian fusion truck.

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This reminded me of Hawaii… the sauce was amazing, the pork was amazing, the EGGS!

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This was from a taco truck whose names I forgot (sorry).

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I love wall murals. They’re all over the Alberta Arts District. We stopped by the area just to admire them. However, my heart still belongs to Miami’s Wynwood Walls (see post here).

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Onward to Seattle.

7/24/15 NYC Restaurant Week: Riverpark

A year ago, I stepped into Riverpark during NYC Restaurant Week (Yelp review here) and fell in love immediately. I knew I had to come back again. Its RW menu is only available for weekday lunch.

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Last year, I opted for outdoor terrace seating which had a spectacular vibe: overlooking the East River with a slight breeze. This time, since I was dining with my father, we chose to stay indoors and luckily got a window seat. I’ve had nothing but great service both times.

The Restaurant Week lunch menu includes 3 courses for $25.

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Manhattan clam chowder.

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Cow’s Milk Burratini || Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Peaches, Basil, Breadcrumbs — I must say, this was the highlight of my meal; it was super fresh and it was the best cheese I’ve ever had. Loved the herbs and peaches. The breadcrumbs added a nice crunch to the soft cheese.

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Prawns A La Plancha ($5 SUPPLEMENT) || Grilled Corn, Shisito Peppers, Cotija, Lime-Pickled Onions, Delfino Cilantro

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Hanger Steak & Bone Marrow ($10 SUPPLEMENT) || Balsamic Onions, Charred Tomatoes, Broccolini, Fingerling Potatoes

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I love everything about this restaurant. Simple and modern decor, friendly service, farm to table meals.

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Ice Cream || Sweet Corn & Mint Chocolate Chip — LOVED these flavors and the real mint! Nothing artificial about them.

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“Cereal & Milk” ($5 SUPPLEMENT) || Chocolate Ganache Cake, Caramelized Rice Puffs, Vanilla Malt — the cake was a little too sweet for my taste, but nevertheless an overall great dessert.

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Riverpark still remains one of my favorite restaurants because of their fresh ingredients, amazing atmosphere and ever-changing creative menus.

Riverpark
450 E 29th St. New York, NY 10016
212-729-9790
info@riverparknyc.com

5/20/15 Saikai (West Village, NY)

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Saikai Dining Bar, a self-proclaimed modern day izakaya. I just came here for the uni.

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Uni Toast. Similar to what I’ve had at Salt & Fat (Astoria, NY).

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Truffle Chawanmushi – egg custard with uni, ikura, kani and truffle sauce. You can really taste the truffle in this.

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Our waiter’s favorite — miso black cod. I loved it but my dining companion thought it was just okay.

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Smoked duck breast with foie gras. I loved lifting the glass off to reveal the smoky aroma.

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You are to combine the 3 together. The foie gras was not too overwhelming.

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Uni pasta. I liked the chewy texture of the Inaniwa udon. However, I still like Basta Pasta’s version better.

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The best part of the meal was dessert. I enjoyed both tremendously. Ginger creme brulee and ume shiso ice cream. Ume shiso?! I couldn’t imagine it, so I had to have it.

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It was quite interesting… and I still can’t figure out if I loved it or not. I think I did.

Overall, I enjoyed the meal and appreciate the modern twist. But many of the dishes have already been done (i.e. Salt & Fat, Basta Pasta, Dieci, etc) and I feel like I’m still waiting for something truly creative and tasty. I definitely see their potential to grow.

Easy to make reservations via Opentable.

Saikai 
24 Greenwich Ave
New York, NY 10011
(646) 838–5599

Mu Ramen (Long Island City, NY)

Mu Ramen just opened up their brick-and-mortar restaurant in LIC last week, and I’ve been waiting for it since I missed out on its pop-up days last year. Long wait time, cramped space, but was it worth it? YES.

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Look at the noodle-y ceiling.

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They recommend no more than 4 people per seating. I would recommend going solo or with just one other person to really experience this place to the fullest. We sat at the bar, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

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If you aren’t one of the 6 lucky ones who get seated at the bar, there is a huge communal seating arrangement in the middle of the restaurant with a view of some succulents growing at the center of the table.

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My view: what seemed like unlimited uni and ikura going into our first appetizer, the famed U&I.

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Uni, spicy maguro, ikura, sesame roasted nori on top of rice. Perfect combination to me. This is the type of dishes I dream about.

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Next, Tonkotsu 2.0: pork based soup topped with chashu pork jowl, kikurage, menma, sesame, and scallions. Also added (at extra charge): roasted corn — HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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But wait! We also requested a sous vide egg (additional charge as well), which came after. The dude cracked the egg with one hand and it came out perfectly poached…

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The Mu Ramen. The pricier option at $18 (plus $2 for my nitamago, a seasoned soft boiled egg which I NEED in all of my ramen): oxtail and bone marrow based soup, brisket, half sour pickle, menma, cabbage and scallions. I LOVE this broth; so rich and so satisfying. Both of these ramen come with thin noodles, and I really wish there was an option to switch to the thicker kind.

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Our other appetizer was my least favorite: Tebasaki Gyoza. “Deep fried chicken wings stuffed with foie and brioche” sounds like a dream come true for me, but it tasted a little too bread-y for me.

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Inside of the foie wing.

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We watched them work their magic at the counter and secretly wished for more U&I.

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A bite of the pork — I also wish there was a bigger serving of this. I’d be happy with more meat and less noodles.

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I’m already making plans to come back. Cash only. No reservations. (UPDATE 12/11/14: they take reservations by phone now! Same day only, phone lines start at 3pm)

Mu Ramen
1209 Jackson Avenue,
LIC, NY 11101
info@muramennyc.com
Tel: 917.868.8903
Monday-Saturday 5:30pm-10:00pm

Travelogue: Maine Day 4 (hiking & eating)

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We start the day off with breakfast in Bar Harbor. 2 Cats, a cute brunch place with bright decor.

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I was looking forward to their lobster benedict (above) and lobster omelette (below), but their strawberry butter turned out to be the best thing there.

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Inside the omelette were big chunks of lobster meat. The egg was a strange texture though, so I didn’t care much for it. After fueling up, we were ready for another day of hiking.

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We planned to hike up to the Cadillac Mountain this time, but one section of the trail was closed so we took a detour.

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Lots of blueberries on the way.

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We went up Dorr Mountain and it was pretty fun; lots of scrambling and big rocks to climb. We reached the Cadillac and went back the long route.

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It took us about 5-6 hours to complete the hike this time, and after that we looked for food on Route 3 again. But everything was closed except…

Shinbashi.

I know. Japanese food in Maine of all places?! It was pretty good!

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Lobster tempura!

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Sashimi was super fresh. Thumbs up for sushi in Maine!

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.

Decade of Shack 6/10/14

Shake Shack celebrates their 10th year anniversary in New York City this week at their Madison Square Park location.

Everyday there is a different chef collaboration — today was with David Chang, known for his Momofuku empire.

I got there around 10:15AM.

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The line was forming around the park.

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While waiting, the shack staff handed out Shake Shack sunglasses and a spoonful of custard.

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Everyone snapped pictures of David Chang.

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Chefs collaborating.

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They were interviewing the chefs as we all tried to snap as many photos as possible.

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They started accepting orders around 10:50AM, 10 minutes earlier than I expected. I finally got my burgers at 12:05PM! The wait went by fast.

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And I present to you… The Momofuku Shrimp Stack
Shack beef-blend cheeseburger topped with smoked and griddled shrimp patty, Momofuku Hozon Sauce, Bibb lettuce, pickled onion and salted cucumber.

Verdict: It surpassed my expectations. The shrimp patty was thin but tasty, and the sauce was good too. I liked that instead of pickles, they chose salted cucumber and pickled onions. Thumbs up!