I had dinner at Jungsik last week. It looks like the restaurant had been listening to feedback! They've made a number of tweaks, all for the better.
1. The 5-course prix-fixe is now $115, down from $125. They have also added a 3-course prix-fixe option for $80. The 3-course prix-fixe consists of Salad, Rice / Noodle, Seafood or Meat.
2. The service had gotten quite polished. They used a crumb brush for clearing tables of crumbs. The silverware were all placed correctly. And yes, the bread was served near the beginning of the meal, right after the parade of amuses (a la EMP). The management is also encouraging diners to give feedback and it seems to be taking the comments very seriously.
I ordered the tasting menu since it seemed people's favorite dishes were mostly from the tasting and the server billed it as a menu of "the chef's signature dishes". I can say that every single item, every single bite I had was fantastic, but the special stand-outs were:
Amuse Bouche #1 - Foie Gras Mousse with Black Raspberry
WOW. This was even better than Jean Georges' Foie Gras Brulee. The terrine was wonderfully creamy and smooth, yet the raspberry's sweetness and acidity perfectly countered its rich earthiness. I get foie gras fatigued rather easily (once I couldn't even finish the foie terrine at Per Se), but I totally could have had 3 more of these. I think this is my favorite cold foie preparation ever.
Egg White Bread Roll
Oh my god, this single bread roll was heaven. It was coated in an egg wash and tasted very "Asian" in that the roll was super airy and had a light hint of sweetness. You can get similarly sweet-flavored bread at Asian supermarkets anywhere, but this was the lightest, fluffiest, loveliest bread I've ever had. I couldn't quite understand him when the runner bearing the bread tray named the bread, but I think he said it was an "Egg White Roll". I also tried the Olive Roll and it was delicious, but the Egg White Roll was the supreme queen of breads.
Bibim - tomato, arugula sorbet
This is Jungsik's version of the caprese salad. I've read a couple of comments singing praises for this dish and I do admit I was still skeptical. "It's just a salad. How good can it be?" I probably swooned (quietly) at my corner of the room when I took my first bite. The arugula sorbet lifted the salad to a godly level by lending a cool, bright, refreshing note to the medley of greens and mozzarella. Extraordinary. Favorite salad of 2011 thus far? Definitely.
Crispy Snapper - shiitake mushroom sauce, oyster mushroom puree
I stared when the dish was brought in front of me. My, the snapper looked quite... prickly.... My server explained that in order to achieve super crispiness, the chef seared the snapper with scales on over extremely high heat until the scales crisped up and stood on their ends. I proceed to ask the dumb question of "Do you eat the scales?" He assured me that yes, you do eat the scales (that's the whole point!).
The fish crackled as I sliced a piece off. Upon taking the first bite, the roof of my mouth felt a brief tingly sensation from the prickle of the scales, then all of a sudden, the crispy scales shattered as my teeth bit through. I wasn't quite dumbstruck, but definitely had a "OMG, this is the most brilliant thing ever" moment. It elevated the concept of "crispy" to a new height. I don't think I'll ever forget the experience of eating this dish. Just reliving the memory sends me reeling all over again.
Like I said, the entire meal was wonderful. I know that I had expressed my skepticism about Jungsik's menu pricing. However, now that I've experienced the cuisine, I can honestly say that the $115 price tag for 5 courses is absolutely reasonable. In addition to the 5 courses listed on the menu, you also receive 4 amuses, 1 pre-dessert, 1 post-dessert, and petits fours. The chef is cooking at the highest level and can compete with the best in the city in my opinion. I certainly enjoyed my meal at Jungsik even more than the ones at the likes of Jean Georges and Le Bernardin.
Jungsik is doing something truly special. Please don't let the notion of the restaurant's Korean influences and the chef's Korean background pigeon-hole your thinking that Jungsik's cuisine is "over-priced Korean food". The refined, high quality food absolutely is not over-priced, nor would I call the cuisine "Korean" really. It's about as Korean as Momofuku Ko is.
I really hope Jungsik can flourish in NYC. Let go of your preconceived notions and give it a fair chance. Jungsik deserves more recognition. :)
For the full set and large resolution photos: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjwJgohL
2 Harrison St, New York, NY 10013
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