Feb 8, 2020
By Honorary Reporter Vincent L. Apa III from the U.S.
This week the New York Water Environment Association held its 92nd Annual Meeting and Conference in midtown near Times Square. Attendees often do not travel too far outside the area to explore the wonderful cultural offerings of the city. I am the exact opposite and this year I decided to organize a Meet Up called the Dinner Social Experiment with the first 3 others that signed up.
I made a reservation at the restaurant Atoboy which opened in August 2016. It is one of two owned and run by the married couple Ellia Park (manager) and Junghyun Park (chef). The chef has had an interesting career including working in his hometown of Seoul to serve as chef de cuisine at the then new Korean fine-dining restaurant Jungsik. My wife and I ate there in 2012 and it was amazing.
Since opening Atoboy, the couple have also opened Atomix which is a highly sought after dining experience. Here, guests can experience a 10-course tasting menu that is inspired by Korean traditions and technique if you are fortunate to get in. I have tried twice so far and not gotten one of the 14 seats and two servings per night; 6 and 9 pm Tuesday to Saturday.
Back to Atoboy; Ato, comes from the ancient Korean word for 'gift,' and each diner chooses three dishes (gifts!), one each from three sections, to create a personalized prix fixe menu with rice included.
At our table was a fellow colleague and two engineers from other companies. One of them noted he had recently chosen to go Vegan, but I have a feeling his wife is driving that bus as he was interested and we ordered many of the red meat options. For the past five years or so my wife and I have eaten vegetarian about 4 nights a week, and eat very little red meat. Nonetheless, it was a pleasant departure for a night.
I started with a glass of Meskhuri 2018. It is a Georgian, old vine, red dry unfiltered qvevri wine. The grapes include: Meskhuri Sapere, Meskhuri kharistvala (Bull’s eye red), Tskhenis dzudzu tetri (Horse breast white). It was similar in hue and complexity to a Pinot Noir and much enjoyed.
After being served some sort of tasty thick gim (seaweed), we ordered the following dishes:
· First Course: Cabbage, chrysanthemum, yellowtail, and beef tartare
· Second Course: Brussel sprouts, sunchoke, scallops, and pork + shrimp
· Third Course: Mackerel, pork belly, galbi, and lobster
It is hard to explain the beauty and depth of flavors, as well as color balance and textures in every dish. I enjoyed every single one tremendously. As if that were not enough, the two desserts we ordered were the milk semifreddo and sujeonggwa granita. Both were a unique experience, but the latter took the cake. Sujeonggwa is a traditional Korean after dinner drink made from cinnamon and ginger, however, it is included in this granita that’s placed on top of burrata with crunchy walnuts mixed in. It was a palate cleanser, yet each spoonful contained a complex, decadent flavor explosion to end the meal filled with laughter and enjoyable conversation.
I highly recommend others to visit and enjoy what New Korean cuisine has to offer. You will not be disappointed…
I also hope to get an interview with this talented couple at Atomix in the near future.
Here are links to both Atoboy and Atomix.
For more photos, please check out my blog. https://vapa793.wixsite.com/the-ny-seoul-express
Vincent L. Apa III
February 8, 2020