The Road to Michelin

| September 14, 2012

Executive Chef Jung Sik Yim is one who will have the culinary world standing up and applauding in short order. At the age of 33, the wisdom behind his cutting-edge cuisine is well beyond his years. At times, it can seem difficult to find something truly new in Manhattan—Jung Sik Restaurant has this covered.

Firmly at the helm of the first truly high-end Korean restaurant in New York City, Chef Yim studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, followed by apprenticeships at the famed Aquavit and Bouley restaurants. This along with a short stint in Spain and a successful venture in Seoul, left him extraordinarily well equipped to launch what is in my opinion, sure to be a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Located in TriBeCa and situated in the space on Harrison Street which was formerly home to Chanterelle, Jung Sik is a beacon of hope for epicurean explorers and delivers an experience like no other. Effectively transformed into a beautiful, airy and contemporary space, with a pristine attention to detail, you are welcomed with a formality that is refreshing and in short supply these days.

With a hefty nod to molecular gastronomy, this unique menu is a create-your-own five-course experience and is riddled with dishes that will send you reeling. To assist you with your choices, you are provided an IPad to browse through a vivid pictorial, which assists in articulating the sometimes hard-to-imagine menu selections.

The cocktail options included the Rose of Sharon (Korean rice wine, soju and Korean raspberry wine) and the Pear Verde (Korean pear puree with sesame leaf and a touch of lemon)—both a fitting beginning and one that significantly stimulated our taste buds.

We were treated to an array of amuse bouche selections by Chef Yim, including Foie Gras (with Korean black raspberry jelly and crouton), Cucumber and Crispy Rice (with blue cheese and grapefruit foam), Crispy Korean Chicken (served atop a spicy Korean mayo and topped with a pickled daikon) and a House-Made Tofu (with mushroom and sesame leaf consommé).
The tasting menu started off with the Four Seasons salad, which is the chef’s attempt at describing the four seasons gastronomically. Comprised primarily of a parsley puree, lime foam and a base of grilled zucchini, this was a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. The simply named Mushroom (dashi broth, a poached egg and dashi, enoke, shitake and oyster mushrooms) was nothing short of sublime.

Next up was the Miyeok. A traditional Korean birthday meal consisting of a beef and seaweed stock, prepared risotto style and served with a house-made kimchi, left an indelible impression. This along with the Champs-Élysées (pork broth with a red wine reduction, shitake rice, foie gras, raw quail egg and diced tomatoes) and the Sea Urchin (fresh sea urchin, crisped quinoa and the house-made kimchi) laid the groundwork for what was to be one of the best meals of my life

The Five Senses Pork Belly is just that—spicy, crispy, sour, sweet and soft. This signature dish is cooked confit style for 10-12 hours and then crisped to perfection on a white-hot skillet just before serving. Served atop a sesame leaf puree with  a  port wine reduction, pickled green peppers and onions, and spinach sautéed with garlic-sesame oil, this was a virtual masterpiece. The Truffle Chicken (Korean ceremonial beef broth, oyster mushrooms and a medley of vegetables) which sat alongside, is nothing to be overlooked. Chef Yim’s attention to detail and the well-planned overall experience, is one that would ultimately define this meal.

We took a breather with an intermezzo served layered and consisting of Asian pear granite and berry sorbet, topped with a lavender meringue. Palate cleansed, we were next wowed by the Tribeca Lobster (butter poached with a Korean mustard buerre blanc) which was as light as a feather and the Classic Fish (black cod with red pepper soy) which was executed to perfection.

Dessert was comprised of a Burdock Pound Cake (carmelized white chocolate ice cream, espresso sauce and a hazelnut/coconut tuile) and Baba (soaked in citrus sauce, apple granite and compote, calvados cream and dusted with a cinnamon crumble) —again, masterful in its presentation and execution.

A delicious digestif came in the form of a Milk Chocolate Pot du Crème with angelica root (which aids in digestion) and a sesame tuile. This was enjoyed with Citrus Oolong tea, which is imported just for Jung Sik (as are all of their teas) from the island of Jeju.

As if this was not enough, the last course was a trio of petit fours including mugwart, mango with a balsamic reduction and a ginseng macaroon.

With 21 different dishes under our belt, a tremendous, expertly paired wine selection throughout and an unparalleled level of service, I am confident that you will be hearing more about Jung Sik.

Filed in: Daily Dish