Korean restaurants are killing it right now in New York, and most of my favorite restaurants there happen to be Korean. In May of 2022, Oiji Mi restaurant opened at 17 West 19th Street, and it was an unforgettable journey where beauty and flavour collide.
I recently had the privilege of dining at Oiji Mi, a modern Korean restaurant that has taken the culinary world by storm with its innovative approach to cuisine. They also already earned their first Michelin star. They captured my heart with their creativity, skillful execution, and unwavering attention to detail in every aspect of my dining experience. From the moment you walk in, your head turns to take in the stunning interior, with a capacity for 90 people and well-spaced tables. Up front is the bar and attractive lounge where you can order from an a la carte menu. The colour hue is soft teal blue, desert rose, with lots of wood features, and marble table tops. The lighting fixtures are attractive, but there is also lots of natural light in the front room. The tableware includes beautiful crystal glassware, gold chopsticks, utensils, and bowls. The music at Oiji Mi deserves its own accolades. The carefully selected playlist enhances the overall dining experience and sets the perfect mood. From the moment you enter the main dining room, you are greeted with an atmosphere that exudes elegance and sophistication. The restaurant’s modern décor seamlessly blends with traditional Korean elements, creating an atmosphere that is both captivating and soothing. The attention to detail is evident throughout and is a feast for the eyes even before the culinary journey begins. Service at the restaurant is nothing short of exceptional. The staff was knowledgeable about the menu as well as passionate about sharing their insights and recommendations. They made us feel like cherished guests.
Helmed by owner and executive chef Brian Kim, who was born in LA, raised in Seoul, and worked in other global cities as well as at New York’s famed Bouley. He offers a prix-fixe menu at $145 per person in the main dining room. The food is definitely the star of the show. Each dish was not only a sight to behold, but so fragrant, using surprising and provocative combinations with such concentrated and multidimensional flavours. It is difficult to choose a favourite dish because I loved everything. From the vibrant spotted prawns with green apple pearl to the watermelon with crunchy puffed rice, and ginger lime chojang. I was seduced not-only by a visual joy but by the dense layering of flavours. The delicate scallop dish, with red crab, jellyfish, and chilled cucumber was perfectly dressed, and the chili lobster noodles were luscious. Our entree of black bass with scallops, Manila clams, and crispy rice in a truffle seafood broth was like a Korean bouillabaisse. Our dessert of Gruyère filled donuts, raclette, and crème fraīche ice cream, was a great way to end our meal.
The beverage program highlights a diverse and strong emphasis on smaller growers, focusing on the Korean philosophy of balance, depth, and creativity. Wines from France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, California, and Italy were on the list. Cocktails with names like Corn in the USA, Wizard of Bom, or Golden Ticket were all creative and skillfully prepared. The bar even made me something delicious not on their list, and did it well.
In summary, Oiji Mi is a culinary gem that truly deserves its Michelin star. “Mi” translates to beauty or flavour in Korean, and these are two elements you can see throughout your experience and every aspect of the restaurant, from the ambiance to music, service, and food. It is a place where beauty and flavour come together in perfect harmony. From the moment you walk through the doors to your very last bite, you will be enchanted by the creativity, skill, and attention to detail that define this special place. Oiji Mi is a must-visit destination with exceptional cuisine and impeccable hospitality.
Highly recommended. Happy dining,