We are quite familiar with the Japanese food scene in New York but lacking a bit when it comes to Korean food. The only knowledge I do have has comes from watching marathons of Dae Jang Geum , my favorite Korean TV drama about cooking ( I just found this amazing show now comes in spanish subtitles! Jose is in for a 72 + hour treat!) After watching this drama I couldn’t get enough of Korean food. I was constantly trying to drag my friends to midtown to indulge in korean goodness. In addition to learning about this fascinating culture through the tv dramas I have also picked up a bit through Tony Lim, A good friend who has cooked and shared many Korean culinary treats with my family in Maine, amongst other places. Now he is in NYC so I am looking forward to more Tony adventures.
What I have tried, which has mostly been traditional style Korean, I have loved! …This is why we were so excited when we heard about the opening of Jung Sik Dang, an innovative Korean restaurant in Tribeca!
This is Yim Jung Sik 2nd restaurant. The first Jung Sik Dang was opened in 2009 in Seoul. We have never been but have heard from many that it was a great success. As you have probably read elsewhere, Yim Jung Sik is young! We saw him swiftly move through the dining room to say hello to a large party and were blown away with his youngish appearance. We did a bit of googling about the chef in advance and found out that he has rigorously educated his palate. He has been around the world dining at the finest restaurants and has trained in the kitchens of Bouley, Aquavit, Zuberoa, Akelarre in Spain. With such a rich background we could only imagine what kind of flavors he might bring to the proverbial table…we weren’t disappointed. On to the dining experience.
The restaurant itself is quite beautiful. I loved the clean lines of the banquette and was especially drawn to the architectural lighting that elegantly broke the dining space in half. The interior was very busy with wait staff moving here and there. There were so many waiters in fact, we found it hard to believe it took us at least 15 minutes to have one of them hand us a menu. We understand that on day two of a restaurant opening there are many things left to be worked out and usually the service is one of them. It took a while for the staff to pay attention to us, as I mentioned before, but once they did the flow was pretty much on point. One of the many nice aspects about this place is the wine list and the selection of half bottles, something which seems to be becoming popular lately in NYC restaurants. Next time we go we will dive into this half bottle list a bit more.
Four Seasons Salad – 사 계 절
This vegetable dish was complex but good. Eating this was like picking and eating directly from a garden. Each bite was a unique flavor profile. Some bites better than others. Watch Yim Jung Sik construct this dish here.
Bibim - 비 빔
I ordered the chefs tasting menu which included special dishes not found on the regular menu. I am glad I did cause I felt that many of these selections were better than Jose’s. The Bibim was incredible. I am a huge Arugula fan and loved the Arugula sorbet! The textures of this dish were fantastic. a little gelée, some fried crunchy noodles, crisp diced veggies all mixed with cold sorbet. I was a fan of this dish as you can tell! I think I will spend some time trying to figure out how to make this at home. Lets see how that goes.
This was very tasty as well. The tofu was soft and mixed wonderfully with the delicate mushroom sauce.
This was a great dish with many flavors. We love uni and wish the dish could have played up this rich ingredient a bit more. It seemed to get lost amongst the wonderful earthy flavors of the crispy quinoa. The quinoa was the star of this dish for sure!
Spicy Kalguksu 매 콤 칼 국 수
(Steamed clams) What a surprise! Incredible and tasty, this dish was a perfect balance of seafood, spicy jalapeno and perfectly cooked hand-made noodles. This was one of those dishes where we wished we had a piece of bread to soak up every last drop! This was by far one of my favorite dishes of the evening. Again, I will have to try making a similar broth for when we collect mussels from the rocks in Maine.
The server told us that all the bread was made in the basement daily. The Olive, Whole Wheat, and the Raisin bread were all very well crafted! Jose couldn’t stop his carb loving stomach from eating one after the other and continued to ask for more.
Tribeca Lobster – 트 라 이 베 카랍 스 터
Coming from Maine, I have high standards for lobster and sadly this dish did not live up to my expectations. The lobster was a little bit under cooked and was missing the “sea essence” flavor.
Crispy Snapper – 바 삭 도 미
I loved this fish dish! The snapper was cooked perfectly and the top provided the perfect amount of crunch. The flavors were great, especially when combined with the broth and the mustard-like sauce on the side. Yum!
Five Senses Pork – 오 감 만 족 돼 지 보 쌈
The Chef calls this Five senses Pork for a reason! The dish is wonderfully fragrant, Looks amazing, the textures feel wonderful in your mouth, and the tastes are out of this world…wait I think I’m missing a sense…Hearing… Dont think this dish hit my ears as much it did my taste buds. (that’s probably a good thing) It was however crispy, so perhaps this is what the chef was thinking about. At any rate this is the Chef’s signature dish, and it is pretty obvious why! This is probably the best and innovative pork belly dishes we have ever tried. As Jose says, “This dish might make David Chang cry.”
Classic Galbi – 전 통 갈 비
(Beef Short ribs) From what we understand, this more traditional dish was a popular staple at the restaurant in Korea. The flavors were more similar to other Korean dishes we have had before but of course with a modern spin. This dish didn’t stand a chance against Jose’s love for meat, I’m happy I was able to try a bite before it was gone.
Burdock is a Root Vegetable that is very popular in Asian culture. It has a slightly earthy and bitter flavor, something which is unique for an american/european palate. The earthy flavor did pair nicely with the chocolate but was not our favorite dessert of the night.
This dessert was like a deconstructed apple pie! As my grandmother would say … it was “absolutely amazing”!!! It had the flavors of the pie dough, the cream, the apple, and even the crumble on top!!! Way to go guys!
I think we will have to take a break from tasting menus for a bit. My stomach is still full and is protesting against anything that isn’t a salad.
Jung Sik Dang 정식당
87 Hudson St., Tribeca