An upscale new restaurant from the former executive chef of two-Michelin starred Jungsik starts serving a prix-fixe menu of wood-fired Korean dishes this Friday.
Update, November 21, 2019, 5 p.m.: Jua’s opening has been delayed “due to a city permit issue,” according to the restaurant. A new opening date hasn’t yet been announced.
Chef Hoyoung Kim’s first solo restaurant Jua is a partnership with Hand Hospitality, the hit-making Korean restaurant group behind Her Name is Han and Take 31. But the menu at Jua is all Kim’s, with his fine dining chops used to interpret simple classic Korean flavors.
Located in Flatiron at 36 East 22nd Street (between Broadway and Park Avenue South) Jua serves a six-course menu ($95) that begins with a raw mackerel course and builds toward a duck course. The restaurant dry-ages Long Island ducks for two weeks, then smokes them over cherry wood from upstate New York, finally slow-roasting them for an hour and serving them with persimmon.
A particular highlight for Kim is a mid-meal course of jjajangmyeon, a Korean-style Chinese noodle dish in black bean sauce. A ubiquitous celebration meal in Korea — “We eat it on special occasions, graduations” — it hasn’t found the same purchase on U.S. menus as some other Korean dishes. To endear Jua’s jjajangmyeon to luxury diners, Kim’s version comes laden with truffles.
The firm Two Point Zero designed Jua’s 1,700-square-foot, 42-seat restaurant space, which Kim calls “homey.” Small, with rustic and vintage touches, it’s intended to “make the restaurant feel like a really nice cabin,” Kim says.
A seven-seat bar offers an a la carte menu, with more dishes like galbi (ribs) with rice cakes and steamed buns with shrimp. Jungsik pastry chef Eunji Lee consulted on desserts, and general manager/beverage director Jaehoon No plans to serve wine by the glass, bottle, and in pairings (pending liquor license approval). Beer, sake, and soju will also be available.
“Unlike Jungsik, we’re definitely going into the natural wine side, which will work with the smoky character [of some dishes],” says No.
Over eight years at Jungsik, first at a location in Seoul and then in NYC, chef Kim worked his way from line cook to executive chef, developing dishes like a signature braised octopus with gochujang aioli along the way.
To open his first restaurant, he sought the help of Hand Hospitality, a partner that’s consulting on logistics. Hand owner Kihyun Lee says the partnership model at Jua follows similar endeavors at Atoboy and Atomix, well-received collaborations with chef Junghyun ‘JP’ Park. “It is a win-win situation,” says Lee.