Tommaso and I started off my birthday trip to Manhattan with a bang!
As soon as we landed, we went straight to our hotel to drop off our bags and headed to dinner. Since it was a surprise, I had no idea where we would be dining until we reached our destination, Atomix. Located in an unassuming townhouse building near Koreatown, Atomix earned a Michelin star within its first year of opening (they opened in May 2018). The bi-level restaurant has a lounge/bar on the top floor and then guests are escorted downstairs to almost a futuristic “basement” with one large U-shaped chef’s table with only 14 seats (two seatings per night). Chef Junghyun Park who previously worked at Jungsik, a two Michelin starred Korean restaurant also in the city, delivers elevated Korean cuisine in his multi-course tasting menu.
We were one of the first guests to arrive for our 9pm seating (all 14 seats were later occupied).
We started off with a few small bites before getting into the tasting menu.
The sweetness from the shrimp with the slightly funky fermented white asparagus was a great combination.
Crispy seaweed was wrapped around warm rice and topped with salty trout roe. A tasty little bite.
Their menu format was unique, fun, and a great takeaway gift. Before each course, we were given a notecard with the description and ingredients of the dish as well as the story behind it. At the end of the meal, I had a collection of cards with a beautiful ombre effect packed up nicely in a pink envelope.
Firefly squid, imported from Japan, are deliciously tender and were swimming in a slightly spicy squid broth with fermented chickpeas that added a bit of sweetness.
Underneath the vibrant sugar snap peas and decadent caviar, there were pieces of luscious meaty bluefish tuna. A blackened cabbage dashi was drizzled on top tableside.
We were able to select which chopsticks we would like to use for the remainder of the meal. I went with the dark brown ones on the far left with the iridescent “marble” pattern.
Delicate King crab from Norway was served with lightly cooked spinach with a green and serrano pepper oil.
Impeccable langoustine coming from Scotland was perfectly cooked letting its subtle sweet flavors shine. The sauce underneath was made from dureup (a green plant) with apple, Korean pear, and kale. The dish was finished with smoked soybean milk and smoked bone marrow.
The first banchan was celtuce with micro perilla.
Crunchy toasted buckwheat was the foundation of the dish with juicy slices of pork on top with black radish and a littleneck clam jus flavored with dried anchovy, scallion, and napa cabbage.
White rice with fermented shrimp, fried shrimp, and mint.
Underneath the napa cabbage that was cold pressed in sesame oil, a beautiful oyster was hiding. The intense pork sauce was poured tableside and the lemon purée cut through the richness of the dish.
The second banchan was kohlrabi with black sesame.
Charcoal cooked mackerel, almost rare in the middle, was served with a mussel, lemongrass, and ginger rice cream with green chajogi (shiso) oil. The red dots of mussel jeotgal was a spicy condiment flavored with mirin and gochugaru (korean red pepper). A nice balance of flavors.
Barley rice with nettle and doenjang (fermented bean paste).
Braised unctuous wagyu beef melted in my mouth. The bracken fern was flavored with garlic, soy and fish sauce, and sesame oil. A decadent last savory course.
The last banchan was doenjang turnip and turnip green.
A refreshing vibrant palate cleanser. Fresh wild strawberries from Malaga, Spain and salted Oishii strawberries from New Jersey were in a fermented strawberry and elderflower juice. The light elderflower cream with the various textures of strawberries and perilla granita made for a delicious transition from the savory dishes.
The smooth sikhye ice cream (a Korean sweet rice drink) had an onion foam on the bottom flavored with ginger and sour cream. Jochung is made by extracting starch from rice or barley using malt and then it’s reduced into syrup where it’s drizzled on top. The crispy honey tuile added a nice crunch to the silky dessert.
Since I’m not too familiar with Korean cuisine, Atomix was a great meal for showcasing flavor combinations that I’ve never experienced before. From the aesthetics, creativity, and sheer deliciousness of the food, it’s definitely a place worth trying so my rating is an 8.5-9/10.