Manhattan trip report
Went for a quick birthday weekend trip to Manhattan and had three excellent meals.
Momofuku Ma Peche - Saturday lunch
It was about 80% full which was a nice level of activity. We had reservation but there were several walk ins.
We started with a pork bun and shrimp rice rolls. The pork buns were great. I normally don't eat cucumber but it worked well with the rich pork and the sauce. Shrimp rice rolls were nice though I didn't think they were too special.
For main we had the striped bass and duck confit. Both were very well executed though I found the duck slightly overseasoned. The bass had a great combination of flavours.
Jungsik - Saturday dinner
I'll confess upfront, I'm Korean and my fiance, T, is a Brit. He loved Korean food when we went to Seoul but didn't enjoy his experiences in Korean restaurants in K-Town.
However we both loved Jungsik. Whether you would call it Korean restaurant or not (I wouldn't) bottom line is that this is simply great restaurant. Every dish we had was perfectly executed. I enjoyed it because I could tell the Korean influence in the dishes whereas he enjoyed the complexity of flavours.
Much has been written about the menu so I don't think I need to comment on them. The only issue we had was that because it was my birthday we ordered quite an expensive Bordeaux, which clashed somewhat with Classic Fish due to the spice level. They took out a very impressive Riddell decanter which was a nice touch. We would probably try the wine pairing next time.
Service level was very good, if not technically correct all the time. T can be a very hard to please diner but he was thoroughly impressed. We discussed whether we would go to wd-50 or Jungsik with friends when we return in July and agreed that Jungsik was overall much better experience. We've also been to Jean George and again, would prefer Jungsik.
ABC Kitchen - Sunday brunch
We started with the raw scallop and crab on toast. Both were excellent. The scallop had great dressing that T asked for a spoon to finish off. Crab was well dressed with a small dollop of mayo on each slice.
For main T ordered veal meatball pasta and I ordered roasted carrot and avocado salad as I was getting food fatigued. Here it felt like the food fell into the trap so many Manhattan restaurants seem to fall into - overseasoning. Both had very strong flavours which didn't really allow the great ingredients to come through.
I ordered two cocktails (after all it was my bday weekend!). Rhubarb mimosa was good though the blood orange bellini was much better.
The pizza on the next table to us looked great, sitting on top of metal grating so that the bottom won't go soggy. It looks like we missed what many people comment on, the salted caramel ice cream. Neither of us are dessert person but if we make it back we'd certainly try it.
Great weekend mostly spent at a table or another - cannot wait to go back!
We've been to Jung Sik twice. We've had very little experience with Korean cuisine but loved it both times. The second time, uwsister and her husband were with us. She is Korean and loved the food, as did her husband, who is familiar with Korean cuisine. Our only "disagreement" was whether to describe it as haute French with Korean influence (our view) or haute Korean with French influence (her view). So, I would caution you not to expect the food to be anything like what you find on 32nd St.
Hi RGR - it was indeed a great dinner! I still think about their sea urchin dish with crispy quinoa - one of best dishes in recent memory.
As far as our "disagreement" goes - I think the restaurant can be looked at in many different ways. I mean, there are a couple dishes that aren't Korean in any way or form (e.g. the lobster - I think) then there are some dishes that only involve certain Korean ingredients, spices, or technique (the bibim salad) then there are dishes that are straight-up Korean (the galbi) and many dishes inbetween - so there's definitely a lot of stuff going on.
Meanwhile I think it's worth reminding those who are not super-familiar with Korean food that what's available on the 32nd St. is only a small part of what Korean cuisine is. K-BBQ and hot, spicy stews may be most well-known, but much of Korean cuisine involve neither.
I know I've mentioned it before, but when I was a kid my mother owned a high-end Korean restaurant in Seoul. She had course menus that cost up to $150 and involved many expensive ingredients, though not foie gras or truffle. But few of the courses would resemble anything you could find on the 32nd St. and some of the dishes would even be unfamiliar to most Koreans as well. And that was 10+ years ago, so I'm sure it's evolved like high-end cuisine of any country does. That's probably one of the reasons why I was and still am compelled to call Jung Sik a high-end Korean restaurant with Western influences. But I certainly can see the flip side of it as well.
(Way too much digression, I apologize. Thank you to the OP for a good trip report! For what it's worth, my husband was happy with Jung Sik's wine pairing.)
uwsister:I enjoyed reading this and you have given me a fresh approach to the way I viewed the food at Jung Sik. I was in agreement with RGR that it is more" haute french with korean influence", but now I realize that their is high end korean in korea. My experience in Korea was limited to only stews, dumplings, and soups, and bbq. In NYC the same,, Although I love all that. Jung Sik is special. Including Andrea ( who is haute Korean) just kidding , but she is Korean and the best. My favorite dish is the Galbi, but I enjoy it with chopped hot kimchi mixed in, and always ask for it on the side. The chef agreed that it tastes good that way, but fears that their clientele wouldnt like it with kimchi. I recommend doing that. I'm wondering what Uwisister's view of Kori is. It is somewhere in style between, 32nd St and Jung Sik, certainly not as gourmet. But I do find their food very good.
Great report! Glad you enjoyed the striped bass at Ma Peche; it's one of my favorite dishes from their current menu. Still need to get to Jungsik; I've read only great reports.