Every time I go to New York I seem to choose a Korean restaurant to dine at. Korean food has continued to gain worldwide popularity and I’ve become obsessed with the quality of Korean restaurants in New York. My attraction isn’t the heat of the food, but the complexity. Sweet, spicy, tangy, smoky, earthy, and vibrant. Korean food is the next big Asian cuisine to take America by storm. Restaurants like Atomix, Jua, Jungsik, Cote, Little Mad, Atoboy, Danji, and Kochi to name a few.
At Michelin star Kochi, chef Sungchui Shim taps into his Korean roots and his fine dining pedigree to create traditional Korean flavors elevated by modern gastronomic techniques. (This is the same chef who opened Mari restaurant that I have previously reviewed)
Kochi is not your typical Michelin restaurant. You can come in jeans, it is an ultra casual 35 seat restaurant, located at 652 10th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen at the corner of 46th street. It’s an understated woodsy, narrow space. The open kitchen is the focal point and you may enjoy sitting at a counter seat, with distressed wood, directly in front of the action, or at one of the wooden tables opposite the counter. There is also outdoor dining if you prefer. There is a living wall that adds a touch of color to this otherwise neutral restaurant.
Kochi means skewer and the majority of the nine course tasting menu are skewered dishes, and bites meant to be eaten with your hands. The only time you see silverware is for the American wagyu skirt steak. (You can add truffles to that for a supplement too)
By New York standards the price of the tasting menu is moderately priced at $135, and there are some notable highlights. The menu is seasonal and when we dined, in September we started with a corn soup, with a corn fritter, lotus root, and topped with osetra caviar. It was a brilliant start to the evening. Next up is an amberjack dish with red quinoa, Korean pear and Kim bugak. This was followed by a yummy crispy shrimp, with a Korean remoulade, celery root and tomato gochujang sauce. An impressive charcoal grilled mackerel skewer with a vinaigrette eggplant was one of the 9 courses. Thanks to the chef for adding some shaved truffle on top. A duck confit was next with an aromatic tomato marmalade and cherry ssamjang and minari salad. Another standout was the trout bibimbap, made with soy marinated steelhead trout, seasonal sprouts, candied anchovy, and seaweed rice. You can add sea urchin as a supplement to this dish. The last savoury course was the aforementioned steak.
They offer beer, champagne, sake, and cocktails. For a tiny bar they had an impressive amount of top flight choices.
There were two dessert courses on the menu. The first was a fabulous frozen yoghurt with crispy dates and fig compote. The last, an ice cream sandwich skewer, made with black sesame seed ice cream, and chocolate sponge cake.
The service was attentive and silverware was changed with each course and napkins re-folded if you got up from the table. Each course was explained in detail by the servers.
Kochi uses gastronomic techniques of contemporary Korean food that is certainly worth a visit.