Eunji Lee of New York’s Michelin-starred Jungsik reveals four secrets that helped her become one of the city’s best pastry chefs.
Korean cuisine, which has been passed through generations, is mainly based on rice, vegetables, and meats. But why focus only on traditional plates when you can bring innovations to your culinary routine? Zingy and luxurious to the right degree, Jungsik New York offers the unique landmark Seoul experience paired with impeccable service to deliver contemporary Korean wonders to the table.
On this week’s episode of Sugar Coated, host Rebecca DeAngelis visits two Michelin-Starred Jungsik in New York City, to see how their Executive Pastry Chef Eunji Lee makes a dessert tasting menu that includes a black truffle ice cream cone.
Pastry chef Eunji Lee was born in Busan, South Korea. She had always dreamed of working with pastry, and after high school began to learn French. In 2006, she moved to France to study pastry arts at the Institut National de la Boulangerie Pâtisserie in Rouen and at the FERRANDI Paris. Lee then spent three years at Michelin-starred, Asian-meets-French Ze Kitchen Galerie and later trained under Alain Ducasse and Cédric Grolet at three-Michelin-starred Le Meurice. Lee went on to become the first non-European contestant in season four of the French competition Qui Sera Le Prochain Grand Pâtissier?
It might be hard to believe, but it wasn’t all that long ago when Koreatown was essentially your only option to cure a craving for Korean food in New York.
Because now, there’s a bevy of hip Korean-inspired spots turning out far more than the old standbys of kimchi and bulgogi. In the mood for a lively steakhouse experience? Try Cote in Flatiron. Nomad’s Atoboy – owners Junghyun and Ellia Park also have the acclaimed Atomix a few blocks down – specializes in family-style eating with banchan (Korean side dishes) made from unexpected ingredients. Meanwhile, at Soogil and East Village, chef Soogil Lim whips up small plates with heavy French flair.
Cool, chic and completely urbane, Jungsik is the epitome of contemporary elegance. Inside the large and neatly partitioned space, find rich browns and ivory furnishings with flattering lighting that is just bright enough to see your food clearly. The chairs are deep and tables well spaced, but request a plush corner banquette for maximum comfort. Even the place settings show sculptural beauty through dark pottery and white porcelain. The ambience is fairly quiet and somewhat reflective. The modern cuisine is confident, complex and happens to be leaning much more toward Europe than Korea of late. No matter—the cooking remains profoundly enjoyable. At the same time, the most inspired dishes are the ones that retain their heritage. Prime examples include the delicate mandoo filled with foie gras, draped in Wagyu beef, and set in a soulful Wagyu broth. Tuna kimbap may look like a cigar, but it is a crispy treat filled with black truffle rice, tuna and Korean mustard. Oh, and the octopus braised in dashi could very well be the best you’ve ever had. Artful desserts include black raspberry and coconut sorbet with crumbles of spinach cake, yuzu meringue and perfect berry slices.
The secret of signature dish at Jungsik, known as the most expensive Korean restaurant in NYC, has released! Meet the executive chef at Jungsik and learn how to cook like Michelin two-star food!
“This is my dream, and this is my future” declared 14-year-old Eunji Lee after watching a television show about the life of a pastry chef at her home in Busan, South Korea. Fast forward to France for a decade of culinary studies and practical experience, and then to Manhattan where Lee is now executive pastry chef at the highly-esteemed modern Korean restaurant Jungsik. Her brilliant five-course dessert tasting menu, reflecting a Korean heritage, classical French technique, and New York know-how, is available nightly at the restaurant’s intimate bar, a progression of unusual flavor combinations in tune with the seasons of the year and chef/owner Jungsik Yim’s mission to reinterpret Korean cuisine.
Cool, chic, and completely urbane, Jungsik is the epitome of contemporary elegance. Inside the large, neatly partitioned space, find rich browns and ivory furnishings with flattering lighting that is just bright enough to see your food clearly. The chairs are deep and tables are well spaced, but request a plush corner banquette for maximum comfort. Even the place settings show sculptural beauty through dark pottery and white porcelain. The ambience is fairly quiet and somewhat reflective. The modern cuisine is confident, complex, and happens to be leaning much more toward Europe than Korea of late. No matter—the cooking remains profoundly enjoyable. At the same time, the most inspired dishes are the ones that retain their heritage, as in the dome of seaweed-seasoned rice with cubes of smoked and torched yellowtail, finished with slivered lettuce. Before the red snapper arrives at the table, hot oil is poured overtop to cook the fish but also to yield incredibly crisped skin; then it is served with a brunoise of hearty greens and potatoes and rich perilla vinaigrette. Artful desserts include black raspberry and coconut sorbet with crumbles of spinach cake, yuzu meringue, and perfect berry slices.
What makes it stand out: Jungsik is New Hansik with flair. The restaurant combines Korean culinary techniques with those from all over the world, adding in local, seasonal ingredients and flavours.
About the chef: Jungsik Yim trained at Aquavit and Bouley in New York and at Zuberoa and Akelarre in Spain, before returning to Seoul in 2009 to open his eponymous restaurant in Cheongdam-dong, the heart of Korean luxury and style. He is credited for introducing New Korean cuisine to his home country.
Typical dishes: The amuse bouche here is quite unique. It reinterprets Korean banchan (side dishes served with plain rice) with five to six finger foods. While expressing Korea’s rice or bap culture, it enhances the diner’s expectations of the coming meal. Main dishes include hoedeopbap or rice topped with fresh raw fish, and sea urchin bibimbap made with rice mixed with popped millet and dried laver, topped with a generous serving of sea urchin. The Bossamdeopbap is made with pork belly and grilled to ‘crispy on the outside, tender on the inside’ perfection.
What else? At Jungsik, the wine pairing stands out as much as the food, led by head sommelier Eunsik Choi, winner of Korea’s sommelier competition. On the first floor, guests of Jungsik Bar can enjoy an excellent selection of wine alongside the restaurant’s best-selling dishes à la carte.
“Each dish is a piece of art” at this “high-end” TriBeCa Korean whose “meticulously prepared” fusion bites take “many twists and turns” and can be sampled in “sublime” yet “accessible” tasting menus presented by an “attentive” staff; the subtle, “elegant” space suits the “special experience”, though “you’ll pay for it” when the bill arrives.
Jungsik Yim, the Korean chef who has lent his name (which also happens to mean “formal dinner” in his native tongue) to this New York restaurant, calls his style of cooking “New Korean.” That means filtering local and international ingredients and styles through the vernacular of Korean cuisine, to create dishes such as rack of lamb ginger soy salsa, or foie gras barley risotto, fresh black truffle. This kind of creative cooking requires real skill from the wine team to find suitable matches—and our judges felt Jungsik succeeded in this task with distinction.
Eunji Lee, the pastry chef at Jungsik, has taken an approach that is at once delectable and intelligent to her dessert tasting menu at the Korean restaurant in TriBeCa. The courses progress from light to rich, starting with a tart granita of omija (magnolia berry) with lemon-basil sorbet. A bright, cream-filled strawberry tart is followed by a lifelike “banana” made of white chocolate and ice cream. The brown-rice cream puff with ice cream and pecan praline is sheer indulgence. A black truffle ice cream cone is an optional extra ($25). The menu is served at the bar only; dessert libations are available to sip alongside: Dessert tasting menu, $55 ($35 extra for wine pairings), Jungsik, 2 Harrison Street (Hudson Street), 212-219-0900, jungsik.com.
Consistently earning two Michelin stars, Jungsik is one of NYC’s best and most respected Korean restaurants—or restaurants period. The food has been compared to a “work of art”, including pastry chef Eunji Lee’s exquisite desserts, which now have a tasting menu of their own available nightly at the bar.
Eater LA editor and host Matthew Kang’s video series exploring Korean cuisine across the country — called, aptly, K-Town — gets dressed up for this week’s segment. Kang and the crew visit Jungsik, perhaps the most elegant (and most expensive) Korean restaurant in America, which has two Michelin stars to its name.
In June, five of South Korea’s most accomplished chefs were working in one New York kitchen.
At one end of the room, chef Mingoo Kang, whose Seoul-based Mingles placed 15th on the 2016 Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, refined a mountain of fermented sam namul — three color vegetables — cutting off unsightly leaves and trimming stalks. On the other end of the kitchen was 24 Seasons executive chef Tony Yoo, fishing hunks of cooked pork belly out of a mirepoix broth. Near the stairs, chef Jinmo Jang, a plating expert in Korea, placed translucent purple seaweed around his sea urchin tofu. Behind Jang, celebrity chef Hyun Seok Choi, a frequent guest on Korean television cooking programs, plucked pink chive blossoms from their stems, laying each down on a napkin. “Only a hundred left to go,” he joked as he worked.
In the midst of the prep work, chef Jungsik Yim — who placed 22nd on the Asia’s 50 Best list — walked around the restaurant wearing his bright blue cap, chatting with media. Yim opened one of the first contemporary Korean fine dining restaurants in 2009 with Seoul’s Jungsik, following that up with a second location in New York City in 2011.
At first glance, it’s easy to see that Jungsik NYC, a Michelin star-spangled transplant from Seoul is the city’s most refined haute-Korean restaurant experience. With impeccable service, a rarely seen “nouvelle” approach to Korean cuisine and an unruffled, crisp white linen-filled dining room, Jungsik oozes modern elegance from every angle.