I have a great husband. After I got back from my Cali work trip, he just randomly decided to take me to a nice restaurant for “date night.” He picked the restaurant, made reservations and all I had to do was look pretty and bring my stomach. haha.
I was very much surprised when he picked Junsik because although he eats Korean with me, I wouldn’t say it’s his favorite type of cuisine. Jungsik is actually based in Seoul, Korea and they recently opened up a NYC location. It’s very high end Korean dining which mixes Korean food with French techniques. They do not serve anything a la carte here and you only have a choice of 3 courses at $80 or 5 courses at $115. I was so excited to try it. We opted to get the 5 course tasting. You get choices under five sections: appetizer, rice/noodle, seafood, meat and dessert.
I started with a cocktail because it included some very Korean alcohols: mockulli and soju. It is called Rose of Sharon and its comprised of mockulli, soju and grenadine.
Quite mild, not too sweet and you could taste the soju I knew so well in my youth.
First came the amuse bouches.
From left to right: seaweed cracker, tofu with miso sauce topping, shrimp and my favorite of the four, Korean fried chicken. (I could eat a bucket of that chicken like popcorn)
Mini mini bulgogi sliders:
YUM. Tender, slightly sweet, slightly garlicky with hints of soy on a sweet tiny brioche.
A small amuse of soup. I really can’t recall what was in it but it was velvety and slightly thicker than your typical soup. It almost tasted like rice that was cooked till super soft and then pureed till smooth. In Korean, it’s called jook.
For the appetizer course, I opted for the foie gras mousse with apple:
I just cant say no to foie gras. So when it appeared I was disappointed because it looked like soup. But when I pierced it, it’s solid foie gras that has been whipped to a creamy consistency and topped with an apple gelee. Divine. The portion is shallow so not too much but just enough mousse to whet the appetite.
Cookie Monster got this mushroom appetizer in a dashi broth and poached egg that was AMAZING. It was hearty and delicate at the same time. I actually preferred his.
For the rice/noodle course, being a self proclaimed uni slut, I got the sea urchin over Korean seaweed rice and crispy quinoa:
Sweet succulent morsels of sea urchin on a bed of incredibly tasty rice. I was quite surprised how flavorful that rice was – definitely infused with something and it had a wonderfully nutty dressing of sesame oil. This dish reminded me very much of bibimbap up many levels on the refinement scale. The diced kimchi, although not stated as an ingredient, added a wonderful acid and slight spice to the whole thing. The crisped quinoa was something I’ve never had and I adored it – it had a really nice crunchiness. Cookie Monster got the classic noodle and although he liked his soup enough but he loved mine. The classic noodle (no photo) was good but nothing my mom couldn’t make. :)
For the seafood course, I got the black cod with red pepper soy:
My mom can make a mean version of this dish but this was so refined, so elegant. The flavor profile was spot on and I would know. The cod was cooked so well it was moist and buttery. That red pepper soy sauce was the icing. It’s Korean kochujang that has been thinned with soy and it really sent me back home. Again Cookie Monster was envious. They managed to make what is typically a pretty rustic fish plate into something elegant and upscale.
He got the butter poached lobster with Korean mustard:
This was good and perfectly executed but compared to the bolder more unique flavors of my cod, it paled in comparison. Get the cod then thank me later.
For meat course, we both got the five senses pork belly that was supposed to have spicy, crunchy, sour, sweet and soft represented:
We actually thought the pork belly was going to be prepared in those five ways but really all those senses are just represented somehow on this plate. I loved the washed kimchi on the side – it cut the richness of the fat and added crunch. Cookie Monster did not love the fermented soybean paste but I loved it because, well, it’s familiar to me. The pork was perfect. Unctuous in its fattiness, slight smokiness and each bite gave you something to grip onto. Amazing. At this point I’m remarking how I have loved every single thing that has passed before me.
Palate cleanser amuse of a granita of a Korean berry (I can’t recall the name):
For dessert course, I got strawberry cremeux with spinach sponge cake:
HOW PRETTY. And it was DELICIOUS. So full of strawberry flavor you would think it was in season. And Koreans don’t really do their desserts overly sweet so this was spot on for me. I thought the spinach sponge cake would be weird but it wasn’t. You didn’t even taste any spinach – it tasted like cake. I think it was added for color.
Cookie Monster got the pumpkin panna cotta and again liked mine better because it was different from what one usually can find at any new restaurant:
Another amuse bouche of a pot of chocolate pudding I think it was:
And then your petite fours:
We were stuffed! J’adore Junsik!!! I seriously love this place. It’s home cooking for me but refined and with a twist. I loved that with every plate I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was it beautiful to the eye – and Korean food tends to appear more rustic – but there was always a wow element in every dish. As a Korean, this restaurant kept me very entertained and always guessing. I will bring my family here when they visit to see if they enjoy it as much as I do.
I know it’s pricey which sucks because I’d like to go back again soon. But it’s so delicious and so well done I hope this place is here to stay. We need some finer dining establishments representing the Korean community.
Junsik, 2 Harrison Street, New York, NY