Is Seoul’s Jungsik The Flagbearer of New Korean Cuisine?

Jungsik is apart of the new Korean cuisine in Seoul, which opened in February 2009.   Chef Jung Sik Yim’s application of molecular gastronomy is redefining Korean cuisine and putting Seoul on the map of culinary destinations.  

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He’s the leader of the pack that’s educating the masses who view Korean cuisine as nothing more than Korean BBQ and Bibimap.  As a graduate of  New York’s Culinary Institute of America, he quickly became an apprentice at the Bouley restaurants and Aquavit in New York.  He took his knowledge back to Seoul and began receiving a number of accolades.  His current resume boasts the following awards:

  • 2014 #20 Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants
  • 2015 #10 Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants
  • 2016 #22 Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants
  • 2015 #93 World’s 50 Best Restaurants
  • 2015 2 Michelin Stars for his New York Jungsik restaurant
  • 2016 2 Michelin Stars for his New York Jungsik restaurant

The Seoul restaurant located in Gangnam-Gu, which gain worldwide popularity from Psy’s huge hit.  The decor has a minimalist feel to it with its usage of glass and white tablecloths throughout the restaurant.  The usage of neutral colors and well place plants gives it a very modern look.

The service was fantastic even though some of the wait staff didn’t speak English.  The delivery of the utensils and dishes were in sync like a choreograph dance.  In addition, I didn’t expect them to speak English since I was in South Korea and their main language is Korean.  There were things that were lost in translation but I was able to communicate fine with the help of Google Translate.

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Now, the food.  Jungsik offers three options for dining, which are three different tasting menus.  The tasting menus are Choice, From Jeju and Signature.  The Choice consists of picking your courses and the other two being tasting menus.  I don’t like selecting my food when I come to a critical acclaimed restaurant.  I would rather have the set menus because it show cases the talents of the chef and their visions of how the meal should progress.

We decided with the Signature tasting menu and I’m only going to touch on a few items.

  1. Amuse-bouche:  The meal started with seven amuse bouche laid across the table.  The small bites contained a number of locally source Korean ingredients like radish and cabbage.   It was a modern interpretation of the traditional Korean banchan served with every Korean meal.   The Korean flavors were very noticeable but very easy and light on the palate.  It tasted very fresh and vibrant; it set the tone of the good things were on its way. width=
  2. Truffle Eggs: The slow cooked egg laid in scallions and peas topped with Korean rice crispy treats and black truffles were exquisite.  The pungent aroma of truffles are always pleasant.  The egg yolk’s silky texture engulfed the cripsy treat as I laid my spoon in the middle of it.  It was a great play on contrast with both ingredients. width=
  3. Rose of Versailles: The Rose of Versailles was beautiful and the glass plate enhanced the plating of the dish. The blueberry dessert composed of decadent rich cheesecake and longan ice cream.  One bit of the sweet flavors was enough to give your teeth a cavity. width=

Overall, I really enjoyed my dining experience at Jungsik and Chef Jung Sik Yim’s molecular gastronomy technique to bring new life to old Korean cuisine.   After our meal, We got a chance to meet Jung Sik and he came off as a very down-to-earth person.  We had a short conversation about New York restaurants.  Lastly, Jungsik is definitely a must stop experience when in Seoul.  I totally forgot how much I enjoyed the meal here and I was ready to explore Gyeonghuigung.

Check out our other Seoul articles here.

Jungsik Seoul

  • 9/10
    Service - 9/10
  • 9/10
    Presentation - 9/10
  • 9/10
    Flavors - 9/10
  • 8.5/10
    Ambiance - 8.5/10
  • 8.5/10
    Decor - 8.5/10
8.8/10

Summary

The minimalist restaurant decor puts you at ease with its neutral colors and the thought of dining at one of the best restaurants in the world escapes your mind. Jungsik takes you on a modern journey of old Korean flavors and traditions in the heart of Gangnam-Gu. The young chef leads the pack in new Korean cuisine with a fantastic team of waiters and cooks.

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