Overall rating: 4.8/5
Price range: $$$$
Must-have: Octopus with gochujang aioli, Royal bibimbap, Baby banana
Skip: Crispy red snapper
+ Top-notch quality food with superb customer service
+ Unmissable desserts
I'm not going to beat around the bush with this review since the food was simply so good I didn't feel anyone would be interested in how/when/why I got to dine at Jungsik. All in all, this restaurant deserves the 2 Michelin stars that it incessantly boasts about.
Our meal started with a glass of rose and some hors d'oeuvre, which floated around the room as our waiters gracefully moved from on table to the next offering delectable pieces of fried chicken with chili mayo, watermelon cubes, and veal tartare. It kept us happy while waiting for our appetizer.
The meal kicked off with Octopus & Gochujang Aioli, which was my second favorite course of the entire meal. The octopus was first stewed to perfection, than fried to create an incredibly thin, crispy outer layer that envelopes the delicate, snowy white soft meat inside. I was afraid to finish this course because it was just that good. The gochujang aioli complemented the octopus quite well but, in and of itself, wasn't too impressive.
The second course was Crispy Red Snapper with Namul Puree. The crispy/flaky texture of the snapper skin was achieved by pouring hot oil directly onto the piece of fish instead of taking the traditional pan sear route. I think the dish itself was well put together and delivered a solid bite, but remained a blind spot of the dinner due to its inability to leave any lasting impression. Maybe since Korean food is almost always known for its bold, in-your-face flavors, I expected a Korean fusion restaurant to deliver at least some of that.
Where the red snapper fell short, the Royal Bibimbap delivered. Yes, it's nothing similar to your normal bibimbap except for the fact that both dishes feature kimchi, and No, it's not exactly a risotto either. The Royal Bibimbap consists of pearl barley mushroom risotto, thin slivers of black truffle, and a bed of "kimchi surprise" that only reveals itself after the diner's dug his/her spoon into the mound of carb-laden goodness. I never thought kimchi and risotto could go together, let alone go well together. However, Jungsik's here to fix that and I am now a firm believer.
Perhaps as a personal take on American steak, Japanese sushi, and Korean BBQ, the chefs at Jungsik combined the three food icons into one simple dish named: Galbi. Don't be fooled by the name as this galbi doesn't come on a sizzling hot plate with a side of rice and red lettuce. A thick, scrumptious slice of wagyu is marinated in Korean galbi sauce and grilled to medium-rare, then plated on top of some sushi rice to resemble the shape of a nigiri. The meat of course melted as soon as it touched the tip of my tongue and was undoubtedly the most amazing piece of "galbi" I've ever had. I didn't like the sushi rice + galbi combo that much, simply because I found myself struggling to bring the two together in the same bite. However, I would recommend anyone coming to Jungsik to give this dish a try.
As amazing as all of the entrees were, my favorite dish of the night was undoubtedly chef Eunji Lee's dessert. The Baby Banana was featured in almost all of the Yelp reviews on Jungsik, so I was super happy they had it on the menu that day. As an avid reader of cookbooks and pastry tutorial videos myself, the execution on this dessert brought tears to my eyes. I've shown the photos of Chef Lee's dessert to 5 of my friends, all of which mistook it for a real banana and said I was taken in for a ride. This shows just how much this dessert resembles "the real deal". As much as the combination of white chocolate mousse and banana custard was to die for, what I liked most about this dish is the fact that it had just the right amount of sweetness despite having no sour/bitter flavor components. Their coffee ice cream was a piece of joy itself, nestled neatly on top of a bed of salted feuilettine.
The meal left me grinning from ear to ear and completely erased my prejudice on Asian fusion food. However with such a heavy price tag, I'm afraid I won't be coming back to Jungsik very often. Their dessert sampling menu for $150 could be worth a shot, maybe on a very very good day when my end-of-year bonus comes in.
2 Harrison St