In a return to New York City, K-Town host Matthew Kang goes to Oiji, one of the best practitioners of modern Korean cuisine in the city. He first marvels at the restaurant’s placement not in the ever-popular Koreatown on 32nd Street, but in the heart of the East Village, a bustling neighborhood in Manhattan. Kang sits down with chef de cuisine Teddy Kim to unpack what it means to be a modern Korean establishment: Mainly, it involves employing classical cooking techniques from French and Italian cuisine on Korean dishes.
The question is: How successful are they? Kang finds that there’s a certain kind of surprise and delight that comes from Oiji’s plating, especially the naengchae, which is a traditional jellyfish salad that’s served at Korean-Chinese restaurants. Next, he tries the utterly simple saam, a melange of ingredients finished off as a handheld meal.
Finally, the meal rounds out with a sweet finish. Honey butter chips are a strange obsession in Korea, and there was a time a few years back when people would wait in line at stores to buy the relatively common packaged snack food. But Oiji’s chefs have elevated this into a made-from-scratch dessert that might be the most addictive thing Kang’s ever eaten.