Kochi — a new Korean tasting menu restaurant with a menu built around grilled skewers — is firing up its binchotan charcoals in Hell’s Kitchen tonight.
Chef Sungchul Shim, a veteran of French and Japanese fine-dining restaurants like Per Se and Neta, serves a nine-course menu ($75) inspired by the Korean royal cuisine of the Joseon dynasty — only at Kochi, most of these dishes come on a stick.
“Traditionally Korean meals are served in large, grand tables, with many dishes all together,” Shim says. Not so at Kochi, whose name means skewer. Highlights of the menu, served one by one, include saengseon-gui (binchotan-grilled Mackerel) and a slow-cooked chicken dish called andong jimdak, whose combination of beef and chicken stocks takes four days to prepare. A bossam course is also labor intensive, with pork belly requiring 16 hours to cook before it receives a final skewering and grilling.
But the dish that’s closest to home for the chef, who grew up in South Korea’s Gyeonggi Province, is tteok-galbi, a charcoal grilled beef ribeye patty that’s a regional specialty. “It’s my most nostalgic food,” Shim says — though he’s changed his version up from the usual, stuffing it with sweet rice cakes and topping it with a non-traditional pear and chestnut chutney.
Youngmi Ham of Studio Rolling designed the new restaurant, which seats 24 in an elegant main dining room plus 11 more at a white marble chef’s counter. Behind it are just Shim, his longtime Neta colleague Byeong Seok, and one line cook. A beverage menu from Jooyang Yang, previously of Jungsik, is available a la carte or in a full pairing, with cocktails like a “silk martini” (konbu-infused Vodka, soy sauce wakame, black pepper) and a “signature pear” (soju, Korean pear syrup, sparkling Chardonnay).
And even dessert at Kochi comes on a stick: It’s a black sesame ice cream pop, inspired by Shim’s two children enjoying a summer treat.
Kochi is now open for dinner every day from 5:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., reservations are available online.