Chowhounds have fallen for the refined cooking at Jung Sik, even if they can't agree on how to classify it. "New Korean," says mrrbi; "more French Laundry-style than Korean," suggests foodwhisperer. kosmose7 splits the difference: "It is neither a pure Western nor a pure Korean restaurant. Some dishes are very close to traditional Korean food, while others look more like a Western dish."
Whatever they're calling it, hounds are eating it up. Jung Sik had Cheeryvisage right from the amuse-bouches: a trio of openers highlighted by a creamy, earthy foie gras mousse, smartly counterbalanced by the sweetness and acidity of black raspberry. "I totally could have had 3 more of these," she says. The bread plate featured an airy egg-white roll with a hint of sweetness reminiscent of Asian baked goods—"the lightest, fluffiest, loveliest bread I've ever had."
Chef Jung Sik Yim—who opened his first restaurant, Jung Sik Dang, two years ago in Seoul—applies Western technique, including a bit of molecular gastronomy, to a flavor palette that includes Korean tastes, among others. To kosmose7, Jung Sik's galbi (braised beef short rib) is pretty much the traditional version and its seaweed pilaf (called miyeok, or Birthday Meal) is close to Korean miyeokguk bap (seaweed rice). But butter-poached lobster, despite the addition of Korean mustard, "looked and tasted as if it were served at a New American restaurant," kosmose7 adds. Five Senses Pork, a signature dish imported from Jung Sik Dang, is a creamy log of sous-vide pork belly, perfectly caramelized, that manages to be "spicy, sweet, sour, and crunchy all at once," says strangemd. Some dishes riff subtly on Korean technique rather than flavors. Bibim—a reimagined caprese salad featuring diced tomato, mozzarella, tomato jelly, and arugula sorbet—is mixed at the table à la bibimbap. "Extraordinary," says Cheeryvisage, who loves the "cool, bright, refreshing note" contributed by the sorbet.
All this doesn't come cheap: Dinner is prix fixe, five courses for $115 or three for $80. But hounds aren't complaining. Jung Sik is "quite worth it" compared with other high-end places around town, says foodwhisperer. "The chef is cooking at the highest level and can compete with the best in the city," Cheeryvisage says. "Jung Sik is doing something truly special."
Jung Sik [Tribeca]
2 Harrison Street (at Hudson Street), Manhattan