Atomix, NYC

December 18, 2018

Atomix opened in late May of 2018 with a creative Korean menu which has received a lot of favorable commentary since then. It was awarded a Michelin star on November 6, 2018, the evening when Linda and I went for dinner. The chef, Junghyun Park and his wife Jeungeun, were absent at the awards gala.

We were seated at the marble counter which opens onto the kitchen. (Linda is shown on the left side, next to my empty seat.)

We ordered glasses of J. Lassalle Champagne.

There is no menu; the fourteen diners around the counter are all served the same dishes at the same time in a ballet of servers emerging from the plating station at the opening to the kitchen.
The wine list has a pretty cover.

We ordered a bottle of 2005 Domaine de la Côte (Santa Rita Hills) Memorious Pinot Noir. It was good and stood up to the cuisine.

The first hors d’œuvre was Korean winter mountain greens with clam juice.

One complex bite. 

The second was a tartelette of puréed beef jerky topped with caviar.

We were shown big white truffles with an offer to have them shaved on three dishes for a supplement of $150 or one dish for $50. As we were just back from the Piemonte, we declined, but the diners on both sides of us accepted. We could smell the musky aroma when the truffles were served.

Each course in the main menu was preceded by a printed card with an abstract design and the name of the ceramicist who made the dish on which the course was served. On the other side was the chef’s musing about how and why he created the course. I sometimes rant in this blog about too much complexity, and then sometimes admit that it worked, but I have never seen anything like the intricate complexity described in the dishes at Atomix. Some of them have fermented sauces dating back years. We were given a summary card at the end of the meal from which the titles below come. (I have shown the more familiar, to me, Japanese names when ingredients with Korean names are the same or similar.)

The first menu course was
Tomato, scallop, dashima, elderberry.

We were served two rectangular blocks of raw scallop with decorative toppings. A chilled, fermented tomato and dashi broth was poured around them. This was refreshing and had sea saltiness.  

Up to this point we had eaten with a spoon or our fingers. Now we were given a chance to choose one of Mrs. Park’s collection of antique Korean chopsticks. I chose the one on the left.


Next came
White shrimp, moo, persimmon, soy bean curd.

Shrimp topped with soy curd skin and a thin pickled Korean radish slice was served with an overripe persimmon preserve.

Assembling each course is a team effort, as is delivering it. On the right is the sous-chef who was in charge this evening.

Striped jack fish, kimchi, fushimi pepper, gim

The raw fish slices were wrapped around bits of ramp kimchi and pepper. We folded the gim, or dried seaweed squares (nori), around them for eating with the fingers.

On the serving table in the middle of the counter were fourteen stacks of three lacquer boxes. These contained banchan, or small side dishes to be served with some courses. Bowls of rice were served the same way.

Wagyu, sea cucumber

Slices of Japanese Wagyu beef had been marinated and lightly cooked. They were served with dried and spice-cooked sea cucumber. Perilla (shiso) leaves and other garnishes topped the dish, which I enjoyed a lot.
Walnut dubu

Hokkaido sea urchin, walnut tofu and a fermented soybean paste cream. Also really good. 

Songyi, truffle, cabbage, quail egg.

Lightly grilled songyi mushroom (matsutake) slices were served on a bed of Napa cabbage, summer truffle slices and a quail egg yolk. Fermented truffle dashi was poured around them.
Eggplant ssamjang, Perilla leaf, Barley

Chopped eggplant cooked in a spicy paste was topped with a barley and rice mixture garnished with perilla (shiso) leaves. 

Halibut, foie gras, butternut squash, doenjang

A round of halibut was on top of a foie gras round. Butternut squash balls were alongside. A butternut squash dashi with fermented soybean paste was poured around. The foie gras melted into it and created richness that enhanced the somewhat bland halibut.
Steamed shishito pepper

The mushy steamed shishito peppers were livened up with candied anchovies and pine nuts.

Abalone, huckleberry, gompi miyeok

Chunks of abalone were dressed with miyeok seaweed (wakame.) They were accompanied by a huckleberry dashi which we were told to pour on the rice when we were done with the abalone.
Dungeness crab rice, crab roe, shallot.

Very good. 

Duck, Korean melon, gochujang mole

Slices of crispy skin duck breast were served with a melon sauce and kale. The orange mound of “mole'” had taken the wrong lesson from the Mexicans and was impossibly spicy. 
Brussel sprout

Duck meat shards were on top of fermented Brussels sprout leaves. 

Hydrangea tea, chestnut, korean pear

This “tea” was a sorbet made with fermented hydrangea leaves, garnished with chestnut yoghurt and pear. .

Sesame oil, corn, nuruk

Sesame oil ice cream was on top of corn marmelade with puffed barley and quinoa underneath for needed crunch.

This was an interesting and enjoyable meal. Sometimes it was hard just to appreciate the good flavors while trying to figure out what the ingredients were. The service, pace and ambiance were excellent. Atomix certainly deserves its new Michelin star.


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