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Why isn't Jungsik receiving more attention?

I had a wonderful dinner at Jungsik on Friday evening. Food was delicious. I ordered several courses from the Choice Menu (photos attached): scallops with white asparagus and sea urchin sauce; Royal Bibimbap with truffles; TriBeCa Lobster; Squab with Gochujang sauce; citrus dessert.

I've been to Jungsik only twice before, but the staff treated me like royalty. My captain remembered that I drink German Rieslings, so it was a nice touch when she brought me the wine list already opened to the page of German Rieslings. Service throughout the evening could not have been more attentive or friendly.

Sadly throughout the evening, no more than 6 tables were occupied. Jungsik is doing everything right: delicious food; wonderful service; lovely decor; 2 Michelin stars. Why isn't Jungsik receiving more attention?

 
 
 
 
 
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    1. re: villainx

      Not really since two of my favorite restaurants (Atera and Bouley) are are fairly crowded when I dine with them.

      1. re: ellenost

        Not saying that's the only reason, but Tribeca is a tough market to solve. Bouley's ever expanding/contracting empire points to that.

        1. re: villainx

          Perhaps, but JungSik is not exactly a "neighborhood restaurant".

    2. You asked, I'll answer. Please keep in mind these reasons are basically off the top of my head by just looking at the menu, which I do periodically whenever someone raves about it here. I have never been to Jungsik.

      The menu seems limited and a bit pricey for what it is. I have no problem with higher priced restaurants; Jungsik just seems a bit steep in comparison with other restaurants of its caliber. By just looking at the menu descriptions and photos, nothing really grabs me. Plus, Tribeca is not an area I usually turn to when considering where to dine out.
      Maybe I am alone in this thinking, but these are my reasons why I pass up Jungsik when considering someplace new (to me) to try.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ttoommyy

        Your points are well-taken. I've been there once, and though we enjoyed it, I can't say it was especially memorable, particularly at this price point.

        1. re: rrems

          same here. it was tasty enough, but not for the prices i paid. i didn't walk out blown away by any single dish.

      2. I agree. Our second time there, the captain had a bottle of champagne waiting for us at the table by the window in the quieter, smaller room. Last time I was there, a buddy and I had some of the Armand Rousseau on the menu, and were amazed of how attentive/interested the sommelier was in how we liked it, as well as remembering what we had ordered our last few times there off the list.

        Food is always stellar, but the service keeps us coming back

        1. Why isn't Jungsik receiving more attention?
          _________________

          Haute Korean, or in other words, pricey Korean (be it fusion or not), has not penetrated the culinary vernacular in America.

          Same could be said for Chinese (with few exceptions like Hakkasan), and other Asian cuisines like Thai, Vietnamese, etc.

          Japanese is the obvious exception.

          For what it's worth, I love JungSik.

          1. I didn't like it the one time I went.

            1. I've never been there, so i can't weigh on the place itself...yet i'm not surprised...back when Jungsik opened, i posted something snarky like "Is high-end Korean fusion really anything people will get excited about??"...my comment was deleted by mods...but it seems my skepticism was accurate...

              I think haute and Korean present a tricky Venn diagram...the clientele is limited...

              Personally, i tend to like more rustic, less formal restaurants, and my Korean cravings are limited to a few homestyle dishes like samgyetang, so for me, it's not appealing...

              9 Replies
              1. re: Simon

                Unlike you I love Korean food and explore it on a weekly basis. But Jungsik didn't seem Korean to me. That wasn't my problem with it. My problem was that none of the flavors justified the price, which for me these days is a considerable sum for a meal.

                1. re: Peter Cuce

                  My cousin and her husband had an interesting take on Jungsik. She doesn't like Korean food, he loves it. She loved Jungsik and said it was the best Korean food she's had, he didn't like it and said it wasn't Korean.

                  The branding and idea of Jungsik might be a bit muddled and it can result in confusing diners that might love it and alienating diners that are looking for more typical, yet upscale Korean cuisine.

                  1. re: Pookipichu

                    Branding isn't how I judge restaurants. Food is. I judge on the merits based on flavor. The tasting menu I had had no dish that stood out as delicious despite the dishes being composed of beautiful fresh ingredients. The desserts were very disappointing, too sweet and trying too hard to be crossover desserts to no clear effect.

                    1. re: Peter Cuce

                      I understood your viewpoint, my post was a general statement about why Jungsik might not be getting as much attention as other restaurants that are perhaps less deserving, touching upon your statement that "Jungsik didn't seem Korean" and relating a personal anecdote. The average person, non CH, responds more strongly to marketing and branding, hence Nobu is is always packed and I think the food there is pretty lousy and expensive.

                      I haven't eaten at Jungsik so I'm not commenting about the food.

                      1. re: Pookipichu

                        Just went to Nobu 57 with friends at their request. Unbelievably over priced. I cant see how anyone not on a Corp account would ever eat here. 4 of us rang up a $650 bill and I could have easily ate a slice on the walk home.

                        1. re: princeofpork3

                          It's crazy, I totally agree. The whole Nieporent chain is a melange of mediocre to awful, overpriced restaurants that are extremely popular and successful.

                          1. re: Pookipichu

                            We got suckered into ordering the dumplings with wagu beef and foir gras. 5 dumplings for $45.

                            1. re: princeofpork3

                              $45 for 5 dumplings... wagyu beef, ground so it that loses all its special qualities, fine marbling and texture... sounds totally reasonable. I'm surprised they don't have pickled beluga caviar served on spoons of pure silver.

                              1. re: Pookipichu

                                They did offer Kobe Beef Hotdogs but I passed

              2. I think it's wrong to think of Jungsik as a Korean restaurant. If that's what you are seeking, you'll be disappointed. I didn't have that problem and frankly, I wish it were more Korean in taste. I found most of the dishes muted in flavor.

                The service and the room were lovely, but the food was not at all memorable to me. Like Peter, I just didn't like the food.

                1. For those who have not been, its not a Korean restaurant. I remember the captain telling us that the chef was heavily influenced by spanish food. There are korean factors that you can identify, but its not that different than other high end restaurants that bring different cuisines together. I just found the food lacking. Nothing was bad, but nothing was particularly good either. Service is very polished and they have a great wine list. The space is quite nice. Been there twice and I'm in no hurry to go back. The food is just sort of a big yawn to me, more so considering the price point. The flavors are too muted. I think the market would be willing to accept a high end korean influenced restaurant but the place needs to embrace the korean influence not try to bury it. I would contrast the chef to David Chang who is of korean background too. I love his food and largely in part because its so gutsy and flavorful. I think Jungsik is afraid of being perceived as too asian and so it trods a middle path that is well worn. Nothing bad with that but not exciting either.

                  I'm with Dave and Peter.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Bkeats

                    "For those who have not been, its not a Korean restaurant. I remember the captain telling us that the chef was heavily influenced by spanish food."

                    If I were looking for information and relying on their web site, they are not getting that point across at all. From their web site:

                     
                    1. re: ttoommyy

                      The first time we went, my wife tells the captain as we are seated how much she enjoys korean food. He responds by saying that they are not a korean restaurant and that the chef's cooking was strongly influenced by his time in Spain. This was confirmed in this NYT story.

                      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/07/din...

                      Is not in the menu description but that's what we were told.

                      You would think the food would be more memorable from whatever area it originates when dinner for 4 goes over a thousand bucks.

                  2. We went, we ate, we left. I cant remember a single dish, drink or experience that I could brag about. Without that how does word get around as a destination eatery? The location does not help.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: princeofpork3

                      Interesting how there are certain restaurants that while not great and memorable, are good but absolutely forgettable. I've been to a number of the latter. When you think about how a restaurant can do all the right things and still not be "on the map" so to speak, you really start to see how difficult the restaurant business really is.

                      1. re: ttoommyy

                        That is such a good point, ttoommyy. Jungsik is in a class with several restaurants I can think of off the bat. I just don't get "Daniel" -- I've eaten there three times, and while certainly the food is "good," and I liked two soups I had (and I can only remember one of them), I cannot conceive of how it is considered one of the best restaurants in NYC. If I were offered a free meal there or at scads of places where the average bill is under $10, I'd spring for the latter. Yet people whose taste I respect like Daniel very much. I'd put Blue Hill (and BH/SB) and Chanterelle, even in its heyday, in the same category.

                        1. re: Dave Feldman

                          agreed re: Blue Hill -- i went once, many years ago: but while meal was perfectly fine, and i vaguely remember a decent cod dish, i just never thought of returning...

                          1. re: Dave Feldman

                            I'm not sure who to respond to, so many points and differences of opinions. Chanterelle had good food but not amazing except for a dish here and there. Corton gets some acclaim and I find the food not good at all and the service bad.
                            Jungsik, I do not consider Korean food, at all. They have many stellar dishes. The service has improved 1000% compared to when they first opened. I am a loyal customer of Jungsik, but only eat there every few months.
                            It certainly isn't a neighborhood type restaurant, however , neither is Bouley, Brushstroke, Locanda Verde etc.
                            Agree with Ellenost that Jungsik needs more customers. Tribeca is not a tough market.Tribeca is a picky market. Residents want good food at a fair price. People from elsewhere have to make a special , not easy trip to get there, therefore it better be worth the trip.
                            There are restaurants that do not do much business but continue to exist in Tribeca. Thallassa, Kutschers, Lotus Blue, China Blue, Rosanjin, others. Then there are those that are packed every night. Locanda Verde, Brushstroke, Ichimura, Tiny, Harrison, more.
                            PR is the key. Jungski needs to do some better PR. Needs more good reviews. Needs an event with celebrities. Needs the chef to be on Iron Chef or something. Stuff like that. Once you make it in Tribeca, you get loyal customers. Maybe they should open for lunch with a special deal. Khe Yo now does lunch, Telepan Local now does lunch.
                            PR is the key here. The food and service is excellent.

                            1. re: Dave Feldman

                              Both DAve and Simon,

                              Are there restaurants that you particularly recommend or find memorable?

                              I'm asking only because I have fond memories of Jungsik a long time ago, and your view point is different, and I'd love a baseline to understand what your tastes are.

                              Thanks!

                        2. My husband and I loved our dinner there. It's definitely a special-occasion restaurant, but it was his birthday and thus qualified.