Jungsik serves the best and most refined Korean cuisine in NYC. Korean cooking has traditionally been thought of as more homestyle than gourmet. But Jungsik is a forceful argument for the merit of including Korean cuisine alongside other globally respected haute cuisines. One of the most ambitious ethnic restaurants (excepting Japanese) to come along in years, Jungsik serves gorgeously plated, creatively composed and French-influenced recreations of classic Korean dishes with formal, incredibly gracious service (we were given two complimentary glasses of sparkling wine upon our arrival). Mr. Yim once worked at Bouley and the influence of French technique and approach is everywhere apparent.
The restaurant is located in the space that formerly housed the sadly shuttered Chanterelle. It is too bad Mr. Yim did not simply leave all the existing fixtures in place (now that would have been a truly interesting juxtaposition). Instead, the interior has been radically transformed to a contemporary, clean, largely uninteresting brown and cream railroad car. But there are some nice touches — a beautiful display of decanters, crisp white linens and a ribbed wooden wall — and the overall effect is still stylish. The most impressive element aesthetically is the arrestingly beautiful Revol stone servingware used for presenting many of the dishes.
The meal begins with a series of six amuses bouches, including a toothpick of Korean fried chicken (thigh meat breaded with flour, ginger and garlic powder and served with spicy mayo) that bests anything in K-town. One of the best dishes (Mushroom, Poached Egg, Parmesan Crisp) includes a dashi broth with Shiitake, enoki and button mushroos, a poached egg cooked in a circulating bath of 147-degree water for 40 minutes, green beans, and garnished with a Parmesan tuile on top, all of which are enhanced by an amazing (and subtle) interplay with housemade kimchi. There is also a crispy snapper with golden flakes of cooked fish scales left on the skin, a delicious crispy pork belly, a Tabasco chicken wrapped in its own skin and, in our view, the finest dish offered at Jungsik: the arctic char, perfectly cooked, garnished with pickled grapes, pomegranate seeds, fingerling potatoes, gruyere cheese crumble, washed kimchi and a classic sabayon.
If you are leery at the thought of kimchi, we encourage you not to be daunted, but to give Jungsik a chance. The universal reaction among our acquaintances who have visited Jungsik was surprise at how good it was and that it has not become better known.
2 Harrison St.
New York (nr. Hudson St.)
212-219-0900 Mon-Sun, 5pm-10:30pm