Namu Gaji is aiming to do something difficult: take classic Korean/Japanese/Chinese food, mix it together, add modern ingredients and techniques, et voila! (French for “hopefully this tastes good.“)
Like many experiments, the results vary.
Some of the stuff is original and awesome. The world is better for these foods having been invented. Top examples include the uni on a chip, the mushroom dumplings, and the 1000-layer mushroom cake. These people have clearly spent a lot of time with their mushrooms.
Others dishes need more time in the lab. The oysters were a bit funky, and the cabbage salad tasted purely of sour citrus juice. The clay pot was just pretty boring—unseasoned crispy rice and vegetables with a paper-thin $5 slice of steak is not getting it done. Thumbs down.
It’s hard to wholeheartedly recommend or slam a place that does some things amazingly well and others quite poorly. Namu Gaji came out about 50/50 between successes and failures. What does 50/50 get you in Infatuation-land?
Let’s start with our favorite. This uni on a chip was absolutely awesome. Also we just googled uni and apparently it’s sea urchin gonads. WHO KNEW? (Everyone knew.) We have no idea what the chip was made out of (buckwheat lavash?), but get after it.
More protein on a chip, except this time, instead of sex organs, it’s good old fashioned cow muscle. This was also delicious. Maybe Namu should stick to chip-based concoctions.
This is a 1000 layer crepe cake of mushrooms. Rich, intensely flavored, and artfully garnished. It’s like mainlining mushroom essence. Brace yourself.
Sour and/or slimy (okra). Not really food, more of a palate cleanser.
More uni! In an oyster. One of the three was good, one was okay, one was funky in a bad way.
Much like the pickles, pretty much only useful for clearing other tastes out of your mouth.
Back to good things! Dumplings with mushrooms in them. On the must-order list.
Pretty much tastes like rice with cooked vegetables, which is what it is. Here at the Infatuation we’re suckers for other “flavors” in our food, which are supposed to be brought by the red sauce. It’s not enough to get it done.
This dish is straight-up bananas. It’s a giant Japanese seafood pancake that comes to the table so hot that the little fish flakes on the top “dance” back and forth. It’s physics, and it’s crazy. Was it tasty? Yeah, but it’s kind of one-note, and that note is MSG-kewpie-mayonnaise. Which is a great note. But this thing is f*cking huge. It’s too big, it needs more notes. Still probably our favorite large dish here.