NYCReview

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

Kjun image
8.5

Kjun

CajunKorean

Murray Hill

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerLunchSerious Take-Out OperationBYOB
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In New York, there aren’t a lot of glaring dining deficiencies. But the city does have one Louisiana-sized hole: Cajun food. Can you find New Orleans staples here? Of course. Are they any good? Usually not.

Kjun, a casual Korean-Cajun spot in Murray Hill, fills that void. Mention this place whenever someone tells you there’s no great Cajun in NYC, and you’ll shut down that argument immediately. The Korean influence on the food makes this restaurant truly unique, but even without those touches, Kjun would still have the best Cajun food in the city. Every Korean element just happens to make the already-great dishes even better.

Kjun image

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

It’s clear that the person behind this place didn’t just pick up a couple of cookbooks to learn how to make jambalaya and gumbo. Chef Jae Jung, who you may know from Top Chef, cooked in some venerable kitchens in the Big Easy like Herbsaint and Dooky Chase’s. After two years of doing pop-ups around Manhattan, Jae finally found permanent digs in a small space with some counter seating and a few high tops. You’ll see her walking around the room, mingling with guests like she’s hosting a dinner party.

Kjun image

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

Most of the dishes here are fundamentally Cajun with subtle Korean twists. If you’re a fan of eggs, order the soy-marinated ones with crispy chicken skin and yolks on the verge of being jammy. You’ll also want the chicken-and-andouille gumbo with okra kimchi. It has that slightly nutty and bitter flavor you look for in a dark roux broth. One of the few equally Korean-Cajun mashups is the jjajangmyun made with cornmeal-crusted fried oysters and shrimp. Remember the first time you ate chocolate with peanut butter? That’s how we feel about this dish.

It took a few hundred years, but New York finally has the Cajun spot it deserves. Since that issue is solved, we can move on to addressing other problems here like the lack of wifi on trains and the fact that winter still insists on happening annually. The next time you're in the mood for something you'd find on Bourbon Street, head straight to Kjun. It's the easiest decision you'll make all year.

Food Rundown

Note: Dishes are often added and removed, which is a blessing and a curse. The seafood jjajangmyun is an example of an add (yay), but we really miss the galbi pork sausage over cheesy grits (RIP).
Kjun image

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

Soy Marinated Soft Boiled Eggs With Chicken Cracklin'

Kjun’s best starter is their version of deviled eggs. The yolks are similar to those in ajitama eggs, and they’re topped with pickled shallots and chives. A little piece of deep-fried chicken skin is planted in a dollop of wasabi aioli.
Kjun image

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

Honey Brown Butter Chips

Maybe you’ve picked up a bag (or 50) of honey butter chips at H Mart before. The version here is what those chips aspire to be when they grow up. You’ll get a humongous platter of hot, sticky, and glistening slices of fried potatoes. Get some for your table.
Kjun image

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

Chicken & Andouille Gumbo

We’ve been looking for this exact bowl of gumbo in NYC for years. The dark roux broth has a chocolatey color with just the right amount of heat in addition to chicken that falls apart with every dip of your spoon. Don’t ignore the crunchy okra kimchi that comes on the side. It’s the ideal thing to eat between bites of gumbo.
Kjun image

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

Fried Heirloom Chicken

The fried chicken is worth getting just for the slightly sweet and tangy gochujang hot sauce that comes on the side. We wish the meat was a little juicier and the skin was a bit more crackly—but this is still some solid chicken. It’s just not as memorable as the other dishes here.
Kjun image

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

BBQ Pork Ribs

Rubbery ribs? Bad. Mealy ribs? Also bad. The texture of Kjun’s ribs is right in between (i.e., exactly what you want). You’ll get six huge ribs sprinkled with sesame seeds, with a slathered-on sauce that has a bit of a kick. They’re sticky and messy, so have some moist towelettes ready.
Kjun image

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

Seafood Jjajangmyun

This jjajangmyun is the most interesting item on the menu. The fried oysters, tender calamari rings, and shrimp are all fine and good, but it’s the noodles that make this dish stand out. They’re made with sweet potato starch, which results in a bouncy texture. Fermented black bean sauce and squid ink give the noodles their jet black color.
Kjun image

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

Shrimp & Oyster Combo Po'boy

The first thing you should know about this po'boy is that it’s huge and overstuffed. So, don’t try to eat one by yourself or else you won’t have room for other things, which would be tragic. Other than some tomato kimchi, the ingredients (fried oysters and shrimp, greens, and remoulade) are classic.
Kjun image

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

Green Tomato Kimchi

You’re going to want something to balance out all the heavy dishes. Since some okra kimchi already comes with the gumbo (which we trust you’ll order), go for this refreshing green tomato kimchi. The marinade tastes like acidic and garlicky seltzer. (The fermentation process results in a carbonation-like sensation on your tongue.)
Kjun image

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

Strawberry "Yummy"

This dessert is basically strawberry shortcake made with honey cornbread in a clear plastic cube that looks like it used to hold paper clips. We suggest you get this over the only other dessert, a chicory pecan cookie. But you should also get a cookie to go, warm it up, and eat it with ice cream at home.

Sangria

Kjun is BYOB until it gets its liquor license, and if you bring a bottle of wine and pay $25, they’ll make a pitcher of sangria for you with some strawberries and sugared cherries that were soaked in whisky for two months. Do this.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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