New York is a very interesting place to wine & dine. The melting pot of cultures got New York its title for culinary capital of the world and this vibrant culinary mixture is also reflected in the fine dining scene. Jungsik is a great example of the latter. The relatively young restaurant offers a modern, unique interpretation of the Korean cuisine and is a breath of fresh air among the more established culinary temples in downtown New York.
Jungsik is located on Harrison Street in TriBeCa (Lower Manhattan), a neighbourhood that saw a big uplift in its culinary scene the past few years. Several interesting, creative restaurants popped up between the art galleries and business buildings and Jungsik is one of the few gastronomical Asian restaurants in the area. The interior of the 55-seat restaurant is contemporary, spacious and comfortable. The cosmopolitan atmosphere is accentuated by dimmed lighting, brown and golden colours, flowers and subtle Korean accents.
The service at Yungsik is stylish and very gracious. Guests are treated as superiors and respect, unpretentiousness, integrity and modesty are good terms to describe the general attitude of the staff. This is quite typical of service in many regions in Asia, but it is less obvious in western restaurants, especially in large cities like New York. This approach facilitates the general comfort during dinner and that is appreciated by many guests. General Manager and Wine Director Kyungmoon Kim has the lead in the dining rooms and directs the team of ten staff members. In the kitchen, Head Chef Yim Jung Sik is assisted by Chef de Cuisine Junghyun Park and Pastry Chef Jonghun Won. Ten additional kitchen staff members complete the kitchen team.
Head Chef Yim Jung Sik began his culinary career in the army. His talent was recognised by the commanding officer and Yim was appointed as his personal chef. This experience inspired the young chef to make cooking his profession. Yim received training at the renowned Culinary Institute of America where he was introduced to French and western cooking techniques. After his formation at the Culinary Institute Chef Yim gained experience in kitchens all over the world, such as Aquavit and Bouley in New York and Zuberoa and Akelare in Spain. In 2009, the chef returned to Seoul where he opened his first restaurant, Jung Sik Dang. The restaurant quickly received international recognition with its innovative, creative take on the Korean cuisine. Yim continued to build his culinary empire with the opening of an informal bistro in Seoul as well as a new restaurant in downtown New York, Jungsik.
At Jungsik New York, Yim continues to translate the traditional Korean philosophy through food. The chef uses modern cooking techniques and international ingredients to prepare and present his dishes. Yim calls his kitchen New Korean and this is indeed a good way to define the experience: the flavour profile is mainly Korean, completed with contemporary and French touches.
The starter ‘Crispy red snapper’ is one of the restaurant’s delicious signature dishes. The snapper is grilled and its scales are grilled with hot oil, giving the dish a delicate crunchiness. It is completed with Korean ingredients and tofu & pepper, resulting in a very tasty, slightly spicy dish. The crispy oyster preparation is another beautiful example of Jungsik’s Korean based kitchen. The oysters are fried in squid ink bread and completed with Korean aioli (made with Gim, an ingredient similar to Japanese Nori), celery and cucumber, radish and seaweed. Delicious.
Jungsik is a beautiful atypical fine dining restaurant in the centre of New York, where Head Chef Yim Jung Sik breaks the boundaries of Korean dining. Korean flavours are mixed with French and modern touches, creating a unique overall dinner experience.
Image of Head Chef: Courtesy Jungsik
Written by Sven & Adriaan