Joomak Banjum in Koreatown definitely isn’t cheap. Their six-course, $180 tasting menu falls somewhere in the middle of the NYC fine dining spectrum—between Oxalis on the lower end and Eleven Madison Park, with its $335 prepaid reservation, on the other. Like Oxalis, Joomak Banjum is a great place to eat small, flavor-packed dishes that are executed at a very high level.
When you do the six-course tasting at Joomak Banjum, you can choose from multiple options for most of the courses—although your meal will inevitably begin with some custardy butternut squash layered with caviar. The squid ink sourdough jajangmyeon with candied Meyer lemon and rich parmesan sauce is another highlight, and, fortunately, you won’t have a say in whether it’s brought to your table; It’s the only option for that particular course. Or at least it was the last time we were here. (The menu changes often.)
If you go with a few friends, coordinate and make sure nobody chooses any repeats. That way you can sample a wide range of impressive dishes that draw inspiration Korean, Chinese, and French cuisine. Pass along bites of perfectly cooked scallops with fried sweet potatoes swimming in chili oil, veal tartare with red cabbage sitting in A5 wagyu fat, and flaky eel pithivier layered with butternut squash. If you’re lucky, dessert will consist of a cranberry tart topped with homemade pop rocks and butterbeer ice cream. It’ll make you feel like a kid in the FAO Schwarz candy section.
Joomak Banjum is one of NYC’s most exciting new fine dining places. If you have the money to spend, stop by for a memorable group dinner—and consider doing the even-pricier option called the Ugly Duckling Tasting. Whatever route you go, this’ll be one of the most fun fine dining experiences you’ll have in NYC.
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