Four-month-old Korean restaurant Soogil gets two stars from the Times for “skillful” cooking that blends Korean flavors with French technique. The small East Village restaurant’s chef-owner Soogil Lim pulls from his background cooking at Daniel and Hanjan, which critic Pete Wells writes is evident in many dishes.
Of the “perfectly cooked” monkfish and “tender” short ribs, Wells writes:
The care the kitchen pays to technique is obvious in the seafood dishes; I’ve never had one that wasn’t perfectly cooked. Monkfish, which can come off as a rubber replica of some part of the anatomy I’d rather not think about, gets wrapped in a cabbage or lettuce leaf, gently poached, and sliced into neat little wheels. Arranged over stir-fried vegetables in a sea of fermented chile sauce, it’s terrific, and about as French as Korean cooking should be allowed to get.
The dish that breaks the $20 barrier is the short rib. If you’ve had Daniel’s braised short ribs, the tenderness and concentration will be familiar to you, although Soogil’s version is pointedly suffused with soy rather than red wine. Underlining the French connection, this block of beef is served with carrots, potatoes and winter squash. If you eat it by yourself, you could make dinner of it.
He also enjoyed the mung bean pancake, “silky” Spanish mackerel, and Jenga Tower dessert, but finds some fault in spotty service and distracting music. Two stars.