You know that feeling where you find something that you really love, but then you eat/drink/do it so often that you get sick of it and never want to see it again? We've officially reached that point with sparkling water, social media, and most of the restaurants in New York City.
Which is part of the reason we've become fond of Atoboy, a Modern Korean restaurant in that part of town where Murray Hill meets the Gansevoort Hotel. What are we calling that now? Meatpacking East? Nevermind. It's not the location that makes Atoboy interesting.
What makes Atoboy interesting is that it actually feels like something new. The space is minimal and unique, made up of concrete and wood like a spa, or the modern home kitchen of someone who has really good taste but has never experienced true love. Most of the tables are built for four or more, and it's a big place that's almost always full of groups of friends having dinner together. Isn't that nice? And that's exactly what Atoboy was designed for. The menu is structured such that eating at this restaurant with just one other person is almost a waste. $36 gets you a choice of three small plates, each about the diameter of one of those oversized coffee mugs that people give as Secret Santa gifts to people they hate. And when you have four people at your table, you can pretty much sample the entire Atoboy menu if everyone orders something different.
The food is modern Korean, and much of what you eat at Atoboy will be excellent. Some of it, however, will not. For instance, the incredible fried chicken in spicy peanut butter is basically my Guy Fieri dreams realized, minus the hair gel and sweating. But the eggplant dish jiggles a little too much, which is to say that it jiggles at all.
The good news, though, is that you won't care about the inconsistency too much, assuming you do things right. Bring some friends, drink some drinks, order a bunch of food, and have a good time. Atoboy isn't a place that should be judged on individual dishes, but as the sum of its parts. And even though I suck at math, I'm certain it all adds up to a restaurant we'll come back to now and again. At least until we get sick of it.
Easily the best thing on the Atoboy menu, probably because spicy peanut butter. That said, the chicken is juicy and the skin is extra crispy, and when you add it all up, it makes for a pretty perfect few bites of food.
Sunchokes, black truffle, oyster mushrooms, and orange. Really interesting, really good.
We love the crunchy rice plus avocado puree plus clams in this dish. Maybe I don't suck at math afterall?
We’ve never met a carrot that is hardly recognizable as a carrot that we didn’t love. These are no exception. A worthy order.
Some tofu, some mushroom…some mustard. We were skeptical too, but this actually turns out to be a pretty solid dish. There are better things on the menu (meat things), but this is a good idea if you’re looking to get something light into the mix.
One of the aforementioned meaty things you should be eating. Order it.
This pile of tomato, dungeoness crab, and tomato jiggles on the plate and as far as we’re concerned, food should not jiggle.