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How a Michelin-Starred Korean Steakhouse Creates a Seafood Tower

At Cote in NYC, a team of chefs reveal the research-and-development process behind the restaurant’s decadent seafood offerings

Michelin-starred Cote in New York City combines steakhouse traditions with Korean barbecue techniques. While the restaurant is known for its premium cuts of dry-aged meat and its flavorful banchan, it also aims to take things further with a caviar and seafood program.

“Last year we introduced our seafood platter, we call it The Grand Plateau,” says Cote’s owner Simon Kim. “It’s missing that je ne sais quoi, so we’re actually trying to see what we can add to [get] that final shine on that diamond ring.” This polishing process begins with a caviar tasting. While the restaurant already has two kinds of caviar on the menu, Kim is looking to expand the program, and says his direct relationship with vendors helps with this process, as sourcing is of the utmost importance to the restaurant’s operations.

Once the caviar options have been tested and selected, executive chef David Shim and culinary director SK Kim get to work on preparing the new options for the seafood tower. This begins with pulling enormous, leggy king crabs out of a box, along with razor clams, spotted prawns, and oysters — all live. The two begin to break down the seafood, and prepare it in ways that showcase its fresh and simple flavors. “Butchering all day and then getting into these gastronomical techniques: how to poach, how to cook, how to sauté, or how to blanche, this is where our chef mentality really comes together,” says Shim. “We’re like, how do I make this the most awesome king crab that we can make?”

Once the seafood tower is built, chefs Shim and SK receive Kim’s feedback, and make the necessary tweaks. “Chef SK and chef David, they’re the culinary powerhouse behind this operation,” says Kim. “At Cote, we want to position ourselves somewhere in between a steakhouse where everything’s just a funnel through, and a super chef-driven creative restaurant.”

Check out the video to see how the restaurant prepares about 3,000 pounds of beef per week and hundreds of plates of banchan for dinner services.

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