Dinner at Atomix
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- Meal Views
Atomix is most certainly one of the most interesting restaurants in New York City and by extension maybe even in the USA. Junghyun ‘JP’ Park who worked in places like The Ledbury in London and Jungsik in Seoul and his wife Ellia started out by themselves in 2016 with a casual eatery, Atoboy. With Atomix they went upmarket. It is a subterranean counter seating restaurant with a bar upstairs which now also serves a shortened menu.
JP’s menus are inspired by his childhood in Korea and each dish is explained at length in a very thoughtful card which one gets for each course. It describes the inspiration as well as the ingredients in detail.
His food is very flavorful, layered masterfully and always has a great texture which heightens the sensory enjoyment of each dish. He restrains himself in using the now omnipresent luxury ingredients in sticking to the traditional use in Korean cuisine.
Some of the dishes are pure genius.
One of the early dishes was a butterfish in eggplant naeng-guk (cold soup). Guk or soup, it gets explained, is a very important component of Korean cuisine. Normally served hot, in the summer there is a cold version. Here, the raw butterfish, treated with ginger, rice vinegar and salted dashi, sits in cold eggplant soup and is topped with chervil, French parsley. One gets instructed to mix the whole up and then eat it. It created an unbelievable fresh flavor with the butterfish adding a nice texture to the dish.
The Red Pepper Noodles with Jellyfish Salad and Quail egg, served in Pine nut milk was another highlight. The pepper gelatin noodles paired wonderfully with the crunchy jellyfish, creating a tension in texture and taste which got perfectly balanced by the mildness of the pine nut milk. What inventiveness?
One of the mains was a good sized piece of sea bass from Japan, sitting on fava beans with black currants in an ankimo (monkfish liver) sauce. It was topped with a twigim (fried vegetable) of large scallion (대파 daepa). In Korean style a lotus root banchan was served on the side to be eaten alongside the sea bass. Again, a wonderful play with flavors and various textures in perfect harmony.
The service, as it is custom in counter seat restaurants, combines front office staff with the chefs from the open kitchen. The dishes get presented and explained competently and all of the questions patiently answered.
The wine pairing gives the dinner a choice of two, whereas for me the simpler one offered the more interesting wines.
Of course, a place like this, serving such wonderful and creative food and having a very limited number of seats, is very hard to book. They have a rolling monthly opening, so better get ready with multiple devices. Even better rope in your friends to help you click on the “reserve” button to increase your chances. You will thank them for their support.