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Persimmon - hits and misses, really bad service (pics coming soon)

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  • Lau May 30, 2008 07:11 PM
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So i read about persimmon and my gf and i decided to go and try it out. Its a new korean restaurant on 10th st bet 1st and A. It's an interesting concept as its a 4 course pre-fixe meal w/ some traditional korean dishes. Conceptually i really wanted to like it

The place itself is kind of a long room with one large communal table and the kitchen is in the back and open to see. The service was horrible, the server was very nice and trying her best and they gave us 2 free dishes (they were giving everyone dishes on the house), but it was seriously like some Gordon Ramsey Nightmare Kitchens type stuff. 3 different times they gave us the food for the people next to us, I constantly had to ask for re-fills of tea and it literally took them 30 mins and 3 times of me asking to get the check. I think part of the problem is some of the chefs come out and give the dishes, so the logistics are all messed up. Also its sort of expensive as it was $40 / person, which was extremely expensive for korean food that isnt grade A type food.

Now, on to the important part the food, overall I thought it was ok, but nothing special, they had some hits and some misses and I also think some of the food was definitely played down for american / western tastes:
- acorn cake salad (given to us for free): tasted like the typical brown gelatinous cake in a soy sauce with chilis and scallions that you get as panchan at alot of korean restaurants, but it tasted a bit fresher and less gelatinous. It's pretty good, but nothing amazing
- fluke sashimi: this was ok, the fluke was fresh and the sauce was a gochujang (korean chili paste) sauce, but i guess we were disappointed as we were expecting this to be like the normal dish where they give u a gochujang and vinegar sauce on the side and this wasn't nearly as good as that
- grilled bass: way too salty, it was served with tofu and the fish was cooked correctly as the skin was nice and crispy and the fish was tender, but the sauce was way overly salty and my gf took one bite and threw in the towel on it
- bo ssam (pork belly): this was excellent, best dish of the night, the pork belly was really nice and tender, the pickled radish slices were delicious and it tasted great with the cabbage. back to the service they forgot to give us the tenjang sauce (every other table had it with the bo ssam)
- yook hwe (steak tartar): this was pretty good, its steak tartar with a quail egg on top and its served on a bed of sliced korean pears and cumcumbers in a sort of vinagrette, it came together pretty well...probably the second best dish of the night
- bulgogi (given to us for free): overcooked and fairly flavorless
- kalbi jjim (short rib stew): the meat in this was excellent and had the fall apart type of tenderness that kalbi jjim should have, the broth was very weak and kind of flavorless the opposite of what kalbi jjim broth should taste like. Also, it really should not even be broth rather it should be much thicker more like a liquidy marinade and b/c it was basically broth it ended up being kind of like a sweet kalbi tang
- kimchi chigae (kimchi stew): this was pretty good, just a standard well made kimchi chigae

they gave us some panchan on the side, none of which were anything special (i could buy the same at han ah reum). the kimchi was sort of disappointing as the place is billed as some type of kimchi specialist as they make their own, it had the right texture and fermentation, but it was way underspiced (part of my overly my westernized comment earlier). I'd take the kimchi at gam me oak any day of the week

all in they definitely have some serious service issues to get through and i think the food has potential but needs to be re-jiggered around as its just decent not something id go out of my way for

pics to come soon...

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  1. I went there a few weeks ago, and am inclined to agree. The pork belly was, indeed, spectacular, but I found the rest of the food to be rather bland, and not very inventive. I don't mind neo-Korean, but "neo" shouldn't mean "less spices." If there was an emphasis on better ingredients, I couldn't tell, pork excepted.

    Three of us went, and rather than charge us for a dinner for two + dinner for one, the server charged us for three dinners for one. It gets her an extra five bucks or so that way. I couldn't care less of the five bucks, but it does strike me as being somewhat tacky.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kimcheater

      u know i really wanted to like it and i like the idea, i think it could be great...but the execution both on the food and the service is just too off...i dont think it'd be that hard for them to fix, but inevitably most restaurants dont fix the problems and they go under

      seriously this would be a good gordon ramsey kitchen nightmares candidate...its salvagable, but needs some help

      1. re: Lau

        I was looking around to see if anyone else had posted on this place and found your post. I have to agree, though if anything my assessment would be even more harsh. I hate to kick a spot like this when it is down, as we all really wanted to like it, but I might hazard that this was one of the least satisfying meals I've eaten in New York, and far and away the worst Korean food (and IMHO, Temple is pretty darned bad).

        I would say the overwhelming flavor impressions were: salt and nothing. Bland kimchi, bland kimchi jigae, bland squid, salty squash blossoms (though they were by far the best thing we had). My wife also pointed out that it was "insulting" that they served the porridge of cooked rice scrapings and hot water (which every place that has it gives to you for free, and at Kunjip literally consists of pouring hot water in a most-eaten bowl of rice) as a "course." Also very few panchan.

        We didn't have any service issues, but the food was just really not there. They should be applauded for not resorting to the usual "Asian food" flavor gimmicks used by restaurants that cater to white people (i.e., sugar and mayonnaise), but if the lack of spice is meant to broaden the appeal of the restaurant, I'm afraid that it is doing the opposite.

    2. http://villagevoice.com/2008-07-09/re...

      super positive review on the place...i disagree, but thought id post anyhow

      1. I went there last night with couple of friends. The service was OK but food was very disappointing.The stew was extremely salty and flavorless. My friend ordered some sort of Bo sam which acccomany rice with some blend onion mixture- I guess it was soybean paste. It didn't have any spicyness or flavor except some salt. pork belly was fine but the sauce was as very salty. I think it was a waste of time and money. You can have much better meal in K-town

        1 Reply
        1. re: archadian

          although im not a fan of the restaurant, bo ssam is not supposed to be spicy, the sauce they gave you isn't supposed to be spicy really either and it generally fairly salty, but since they didn't give me the sauce (bad service) i cant tell u whether the sauce tasted right or not

        2. do they have a la carte or is it 4 courses or what? that looks like a pretty big selection of dishes; I just saw pictures and the food looks gorgeous but if you think it's that bad then . . . dang, maybe I WON'T eat there. sounds like later reviews are similar and they've not picked up on their bad service and unevenness.

          and by the way, Lau, where are the pics?

          2 Replies
          1. re: bigjeff

            Hi bigjeff - I ate there on Monday; my write-up is in the other thread:
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/512518

            The deal is that it's prix-fixe for 3 real courses. The 4th is a tiny snack of a dessert. You get to choose 3 courses from a pretty big selection - I think 4 choices per course.

            The food is definitely not bad, and it does seem that they are making improvements. If the food sounds good to you, then you'll probably enjoy yourself and find 2 stand-out dishes.

            1. re: bigjeff

              i found the food to be a big disappointment as it didn't taste like fusion per se rather just watered down korean food. It is only 4 course tasting

              btw i totally forgot about the pics, let me see if my gf still has them on her camera when i get back to ny and ill post them (if she has them)

            2. Poor Persimmon. I've been there once, and didn't think it was THAT bad. However, they unfortunately fall into a gray area, where it's not progressive enough (a la Chang) to be nouvelle asian (kim-chic) but not traditional enough to hold the attention of people who grew up eating this stuff.

              1. I went to Persimmon last night, and just wanted to add my two cents. Seems like everyone (myself included) really wanted to like this place, but it just did not deliver. I'm always looking for new Asian restaurants (non-Japanese) that are a bit more special and creative, not your ordinary, neighborhood Thai or Chinese joint, so I had high hopes for Persimmon, especially after the glowing Time Out NY review.

                For me, service can make or break the dining experience. Last night it seemed that they were severely understaffed - there was only ONE guy playing host/server/food runner/bus boy, so needless to say there was a lot of waiting: waiting by the door to be seated, waiting to ask him to chill our wine, waiting for him to bring us another wine glass, waiting to ask him questions about the menu, waiting to ask for the check. I could tell the couple next to us were getting antsy as well. He was a sweet guy, but that just doesn't cut it. Then, when we finally did get the check (we were the 2nd to last group in the place by 10:15, btw), he charged us $45 (current cost of the prix-fixe) for 4 people, when we were only a party of 3. He fixed it immediately of course, but still... you're not busy, pay a little attention!

                I would be willing to give Persimmon another chance if the food was really stellar, and I'm sorry to report that it was not. It was OK, but I wasn't blown away. It's still a great deal ($45 for a "tasting menu" of 6 small plates, 1 entree, 1 "follower" and 1 dessert), and we were stuffed when we left.

                The small plates were definitely more interesting than the entrees. The yellowtail sashimi was extremely tasty, as was the pork belly. The jabchae was not bad, not as greasy as it usually is at Korean restaurants. The gal bi was OK flavor-wise, but was overcooked and a bit tough. The others were not that memorable.

                The panchan (which comes with the entree) were mediocre, and the kimchi was NOT very good.

                We all ended up ordering the kimchi jigae for our entrees, and it was also only OK, nothing to write home about. It lacked some of the punch typically found in jigae.

                There was some sort of sweet and sour drink afterwards (not the cinnamon ginger tea at the end, which was lovely), but it was not very tasty.

                All in all, I think they mean well, but after over 6 months, they really need to put in some extra effort.