I went to Jungsik for dinner in July 2021. Jungsik is an upscale Korean restaurant located in Tribeca. Jungsik in Korean means a formal course meal, just like table d’hôte in French. It’s funny or I should say serendipitous, that the head chef’s name is also Jungsik.
We tried their signature menu, and it was such a phenomenal experience. The choice of the restaurant for my birthday couldn’t have been more perfect. I confirm that the two Michelin stars weren’t wasted on this restaurant!
The restaurant space isn’t that big, but elegant. I was immediately greeted with a glass of champagne.
The beginning of the epic meal was this fantastic amuse-bouche. Everything was just full of flavors. Not only they looked like art, the complex flavor compacted in one small bite was incredible. The egg dish on the top left is similar to the Korean steamed egg dish(gyeran-jjim) but a lot more liquidy(or creamy) and flavorful. These just really excited us from the get-go.
First course – Caviar and wagyu
Beautiful plate, even more beautiful flavor.
Second course – Scallop
I always love scallop but never had it with beet. It was refreshing and delightful.
Third course – Octopus
The best octopus we’ve ever had. Melt in your mouth soft inside and extra crispy outside. Simpler flavor than the other courses but just extremely well executed. And I loved their gochujang sauce; it worked really well with the octopus.
Sea urchin with seaweed rice and crispy quinoa
I’m not a big fan of sea urchins so this was my least favorite. But still it was beautifully made. It seemed like every grain of rice was coated with seaweed (how do you do that?).
Fourth course – Goldeneye Snapper
The snapper was amazingly light and moist. They told us that they are showing this dish for the first time and I hope they are continuing to serve it. The sauce was inspired by the cold soybean soup and it definitely added depth of flavor. I loved how golden and crispy the skin was as well.
Extra – birthday seaweed soup
I didn’t expect this at all so it made me cry. If you were born and raised in Korea, you would understand the importance of this soup on birthdays. For Koreans, Miyeok-guk(seaweed soup) is a must for birthday. It’s what our moms had after giving birth to us(extremely nutritious); hence it became a tradition to eat this on your birthday.
I haven’t been able to go back home for more than two years due to Covid so I got really emotional when they served me this. Now I know that they do this for everyone who comes to the restaurant on their birthday, I feel like I overreacted a bit but at the time (besides who doesn’t get a little emotional on their birthday?), I thought they went out of their way for me and my husband said he did ask them specifically for this soup. Either way, it was a sweet gesture.
This was the equivalent of the very last spoonful of your seaweed soup which is the best bite since all the flavor is condensed at the bottom. And of course, it would be silly not to have kimchi with it.
Fifth course – Tuna Kimbap
When I saw Tuna Kimbap on the menu, I was really intrigued to see how they would execute this. It did surprise me how they turned normally $1 Kimbap into such a fancy, tasteful dish. They make the seaweed in the house and you will know why they go through such trouble. It was deliciously crunchy which was a huge component of this dish. The mustard sauce worked fantastically well with the Kimbap.
Sixth course – Galbi on a bed of rice with radish on top
I would have thought this was mind-blowingly good if I was served this first. I was already pretty full when this was served but I finished it anyway. I hate it when Galbi is too salty. With that being said, this dish represented an incredible balance of flavors while being mild.
Palate cleanser – Lemon sorbet with Omija & berry compote
Excellent palate cleanser after such a flavorful meal. Perfectly sour and refreshing.
Dessert – Baby banana
Even though it looks like they served us a small banana, it is a beautiful work of art. Rich, soft banana cake is deceitfully wrapped by a white chocolate casing served with cinnamon ice cream. What a cute, fun dessert!
Petit four – chocolate macaron, Korean themed confectioneries
Dessert cocktail – Au Lait
I can’t forget to mention their cocktails. We tried all their cocktails except for one and all of them were phenomenal. I got to talk to their head mixologist, Hongju Lee and he was very nice as well as talented. His cocktails were very well-balanced and creative. You can see his cocktail menu here.
Everything we tasted was full of flavor while being beautifully balanced. For someone like me who was born and raised in Korea, it was really amusing to see the creativity of the chefs weaving familiar Korean themes and ingredients with European flair. This was our best fine dining experience by far. We didn’t want the night to end (3.5 hours went by very quickly and pleasantly) and can’t wait to go back there.
Everyone who helped us was very professional while being friendly (not fake, pretentious friendly). I love when employees seem to be proud of their work and the establishment they work for. It definitely shows that they take pride in everything they do and it’s a wonderful experience to be served by people like that.
The interior of the restaurant was neat and elegant. And I also liked their symbols and branding on everything (napkins, their business cards, etc.) utilizing traditional Korean design. What else was phenomenal was their plates and cutleries if they could be included in ambiance.