More than ever, New York City restaurants are bringing back the tasting menu experience. In lieu though of the formal, hushed dining rooms with tuxedoed waiters, there’s a new school of thought on fine dining. Yes, the restaurants are designed to the hilt. The service is impeccable, and of course, the food is like artistic theater. Nowadays though, the fine dining experience is just more approachable, and a lot more fun. Case in point is Oiji Mi, which clearly has the goal to be one of the top Korean restaurants in NYC.
Korean food is clearly having its moment. Beyond kimchi and bibimbap, chefs are pushing boundaries for Korean food in the fine dining scene. Restaurants like Atoboy and Atomix are arguably first on the list to elevate Korean cuisine, and now Oiji Mi looks to join the movement. Whether or not you have traditionally been a fan of Korean food, at this new wave of modern top Korean restaurants in NYC, you’re going to have an interesting meal. And sometimes, that’s what dining is about.
There was clearly extensive thought that went into creating the atmosphere at Oiji Mi. You know right away this is not a casual Korean BBQ spot. The bar is sleek and looks expensive. (Because it certainly is). From there you’re ushered into a large open format dining room, where young foodies enjoy their tasting menus. The vibe is lively but not raucous. All the components, lighting, decor, color palate down to the plates and utensils create a modern, soothing yet warm dining room of Oiji Mi.
The crowd is about 70% guests who are of Korean descent, and the remaining just avid foodies. It’s always a good indication when you have people who grew up on Korean food, put on their stamp of approval. While guests are clearly into the food, there is an approachable, unpretentious and ease to the experience. This is definitely not one of those hushed dining room situations, which is part of what makes Oiji Mi one of the top Korean restaurants in NYC.
Oiji Mi does a good job of both pushing your boundaries but yet not pushing you off the ledge. With that said, this is not a place for someone who is not experimental. However it is an experience for someone who appreciates innovation. The dining room is a 5 course tasting experience that clocks in around $145/per person. For a more casual meal, you can do a la carte at the bar at the front of the restaurant. I’ve also heard rumblings they’re going to have a steak-focused grill tasting menu in another part of the restaurant, so we’ll keep an eye out.
My big picture is that I enjoyed the full experience at Oiji Mi, but there was no one dish that I dream of. Instead, amidst my standard circuit of branzino, grilled salmon etc. etc., Oiji Mi took me totally out of the everyday realm.
The Amuse Bouche
The first course was a trio of scallop crudo in citrus, a pumpkin soup and beef tartare with caviar on top. While I love caviar, I don’t eat beef tartare, so they brought me a second scallop crudo instead, which one of the best bites of the night. The pumpkin soup was a standout as well. My friend doesn’t eat anything raw, so they made his first course a big bowl of soup. I was secretly envious. In general though, if you don’t eat raw fish, the menu will be challenging. However my friend worked around the menu choices and he did make it happily satisfied through the meal.
Jellyfish, Oh My
The next course had crab and jellyfish with a fish carpaccio that was served in a green citrus and herb sauce. I’m not a huge fan of jelly fish but luckily it didn’t dominate the dish. Friends had an interesting pork bely with oyster cabbage wrap, served with various mignonettes and toppings.
Onward and Upward
The next course was a cold creamy lobster pasta topped with cucumber. It was ok, though I don’t need to eat that course again. It was though to me, the most Korean-inspired besides the jellyfish of the second course, of the meal. For that, I appreciated the dish.
My main was a bass on top of crispy rice and poached scallop, with clams and a warm truffle sauce that almost made the dish a soup. Once again, it was unique, and I applaud the creativity. Other friends had a duck that was cooked beautifully rare and served in a rich sauce. I’m not sure how this was Korean-inspired, but everyone enjoyed the food.
Cocktails to Stay
Cocktails are a standout though, and if you can afford it, their special house martini comes with a side of caviar. They have a whole slew of good whisky too and can pretty much make any cocktail you can think of. Their bar program is one of the strongest points, of this top Korean restaurant in NYC.
The service was one of the most notable aspects of the meal. They were hyper-attentive without interrupting your conversation flow, but they were clearly listening. I mentioned to a friend after he put in his drink order for an Old Fashioned that I had some of the Weller Bourbon he left at my house. Within 30 seconds our waiter was back, asking if he could offer Weller in the Old Fashioned. The meal was beautifully served, from start to finish, with absolutely no pretense. The team is clearly passionate about their craft and flawless, yet genuine, from start to finish.
This wasn’t a flawless experience in terms of food, but the entire experience puts Oiji Mi firmly on the list of the top Korean restaurants in NYC. I would recommend this for those who want something unique and interesting for dinner.
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Q: What type of food does Oiji Mi serve?
A: Oiji Mi serves modern Korean food. As far as Korean fine dining goes, it’s one of the top Korean restaurants in NYC.
Q: Can Oiji Mi accommodate dietary restrictions?
A: The short answer is, not really. The menu is intricately designed and not meant to be modified. However, if you don’t eat meat for example on the first course, they can adjust to add a duplicate dish of the fish or vegetarian offering. They will not however modify the core preparation of their food.
Q: Is Oiji Mi good for families?
A: Unless your kids are very adventurous eaters and into items like jellyfish and pork belly with oysters, the answer is probably leave the families at home. Like other fine dining experiences, as one of the top Korean restaurants in NYC, Oiji Mi is more of an adult dinner.