After scoring 60+ restaurants with our metric, the Restaurant Delight Index (RDI), we have concluded that the five best Korean fusion restaurants in the great state of New York in ranking order are: Thursday Kitchen, Jungsik, Bistro Petit, Takashi, and Take31.
Table of Contents:
The Best Korean Fusion Restaurant in New York:
2 Harrison St New York, NY 10013
Restaurant Delight Index: 84/100
(4.5 / 5) 366 reviews
"Korean food with a French twist." Jungsik, a two Michelin star establishment not only took the cake for best Korean fusion in New York, it beat out all types of Korean restaurants period in the Empire State. It's not every day that you can dine at a Korean restaurant with a Michelin star, let alone two. Michelin defines two stars as "worth a detour", but chefs nowadays consider two stars to be worth an entire trip to that city, just for the experience of sitting at their tables. If you grew up on Korean food or are in search of the the bold and pure flavors of traditional Korean, you'll need to combat those ingrained memories. Come with an open mind.
Jungsik Yim, the chef owner, slices a new Korean taste; subtle compared to traditional Korean dishes but deep and complex. Each bite you take reveals the underlying story beneath each and every dish, the presentation of which deserves a gallery all of its own.
I avoided recommending any menu items skewing more towards the traditional due to my home-cooked Korean food bias. The wagyu steak is beautifully marbled, inconceivably tender, and served with a unique kimchi sauce that cuts through the steak's richness beautifully. Definitely not your run of the mill beef, based on the reviews it looks like a sure thing.
Jungsik does have a popular five-course tasting menu if you're interested in trying a host of different flavors. Considering the high ratings and the disproportionate number of reviewers who ordered this, this is likely the best representation of Chef Yim's skill and creativity. The menu changes with the seasons so don't worry too much about trying them all.
Unlike many Michelin starred restaurants in New York City, reservations here are relativity easy giving you more of a reason to try this place out. Let them know in advance if you're going for a special occasion. They add a personalized touch to the menus awaiting at your table.
Lastly, I'm allergic to extremely dark restaurants. If I want to take a nap I'll stay at home, thankfully this place has perfect lighting infused, the restaurant is veritably awash in photons. (︶^︶)
What to order: Wagyu Steak, Foie Gras, Octopus, Tasting Menu
#2 Thursday Kitchen
424 E 9th St New York, NY 10009
Restaurant Delight Index: 83/100
(4.4 / 5) 435 reviews
Thursday Kitchen magically combines Korean cuisine with Spanish tapas so I'd recommend ordering about two plates per person (although I really want four or five).
They've got paella. PAELLA! If you can't tell right now, I friggin' love them. The kimchi and seafood paella has more of a risotto-like texture. Very creamy but not overwhelmingly so. If this was a letter you'd see my drool dribbling down the sides. The truffle mac and cheese is deliciously gooey and cheesy, their steak comes medium rare marinated in a soy garlic glaze with a tasty side of kale. Yup, they even managed to make me want to eat kale. If you plan on getting a drink be aware that it's cash only at the bar.
Thursday Kitchen wouldn't score so high on our RDI metric if their service was average. Great establishments pay so much attention to detail that even how often a waiter checks in on you is tightly managed. Attentiveness can be disruptive and possibly gives the impression that they want you to get your butt out for more tips. Here, no need to worry. They're incredibly nice, prompt yet courteous, clearly a lot of thought and care was put into establishing an identity with their wait staff. Not having to worry about your glass being empty seems minor, but it does really allow you to enjoy your experience.
All of this is wrapped within a small, eclectic, whimsical, log cabin ambiance. If you find yourself roaming the East Village or if you're just plain hungry, Thursday Kitchen matches up to their hype.
What to order: Kimchi Paella, Lychee Reach Rich, Chicharron, Truffle Mac & Cheese, Steak
#3 Bistro Petit
170 S 3rd St Brooklyn, NY 11211
Restaurant Delight Index: 76/100
(4.3 / 5) 256 reviews
The third best Korean Fusion restaurant is another French and Korean inspired spot named Bistro Petit. Bistro, as advertised in its name, is rather petite, but their food definitely walks tall with their flavor.
Your best bets here are the Kimchi Bouillabaisse and the Korean Beef Bourguignon.
Bouillabaisse is a traditional fish stew from France cooked by Marseille fishermen, makes a lot of sense to combine it with Korean ingredients. Seafood broth is fairly common in traditional Korean dishes. Bistro's take, the Kimchi Bouillabaisse, strikes the perfect balance between French and Korean flavors with little mochis swimming around waiting to be eaten. If you're familiar with Korean food, it draws a lot of similarities to kimchi jjigae.
Bistro's Korean Beef Bourguignon is "to die for" according to reviewers. Beef Bourguignon is another traditional French stew, but with beef braised in red wine. The beef is cooked so tender, you'd be doing it a disservice to use a knife. With each bite, you can taste the rich flavor similar to Galbi Jjim. This is the kind of beef you dream about.
If you're planning to visit with a group of four or more good luck! Bistro Petite is a very small space with a seating capacity of about 13 people. It is cozy though and you have the option of sitting at the counter, looking into the open kitchen, and chatting with the chef. A perfect place to take your date.
There are some outdated Yelp comments about their payment options, reservations, and if they serve water. Well, to clear the confusion they take credit cards, reservations, and opened up that sweet sweet waterfall. They're also BYOB!
What to order: Kimchi Bouillabaisse, Korean Beef Bourguignon
456 Hudson St New York, NY 10014
Restaurant Delight Index: 74/100
(4.2 / 5) 780 reviews
Of all the Korean inspired restaurants I've researched, Takashi is the first and only to serve raw meat right. It's a Japanese-Korean style BBQ located in West Village with a price point so high you might as well hand over your wallet. Anthony Bourdain in the Layover, christened this place as one of his favorites in NYC. Don't be surprised if you catch him there devouring the Niku-Uni.
Instagram favorite, Niku-Uni, backs up all the talk. A super fatty wagyu style chuck flap topped with fluffy sea urchin uni and fresh wasabi resting on top of a high test seaweed. Bourdain even called this his favorite in New York City at one point.
Takashi specializes in all different cuts of meat and lightly marinades them with their special take on the classic marinade. When you fire up the grill order their beef tongue and belly. It's not something you normally get at traditional Korean BBQ restaurants. Come with an open mind to take in their unique BBQ experience.
Tip. They don't take reservations for two, but they do for four. Round up the troops.
What to order: Niku-Uni, Beef Tongue, Beef Belly
#5 Take 31
15 E 31st St New York, NY 10016
Restaurant Delight Index: 72/100
(4.1 / 5) 319 reviews
Take 31 is a Korean gastropub at its best inspired by traditional Korean cuisine distilled with an American flair. It's taken the last spot, which is still very impressive in the highly competitive and crowded New York City. If you find yourself in Midtown, check out Take 31.
Their Braised Pork Belly (Bossam) is served with green scallions and "white kimchi" instead of lettuce wraps. It's insane how differently the flavors meld and come out when eating a lettuce wrap as opposed to stuffing them loosely into your mouth. You'll fall in love and fortunately, the serving size is more than enough. It's a LOT of pork. Fatty and delicious just like it should be.
You really don't have to worry about leaving hungry here, the same goes for their Garlic Crusts & Spicy Crispy Chicken. If you order, plan to share. It's not as spicy and can be garlicky at times, but it's one of your best bets here especially if you enjoy Korean fried chicken.
What else is game changing is they serve unlimited tteokbokki, which I highly recommend you take advantage of. It's not the best, but complements the meal nicely.
What to order: Braised Pork Belly, Garlic Crusts & Spicy Crispy Chicken, Seasoned Rice Balls with Spam & Mayo, Lychee Peach Cocktail
The main goal of this post is to best answer, "where can I get the best Korean fusion food in New York?". This was inspired by my first post where I attempted the same, but for each state across the US.
We all know "best" is highly subjective, especially when it comes to restaurants. Tastes vary, what people look for in a dining experience differ, rating scales are all over the place. You would be hard pressed to find someone that's actually been to every Korean restaurant in New York, let alone be able to compare and contrast them all objectively.
So -- I have spent hours in my underground lab, playing with algorithms and Tony Stark tech and created the following methodology to arrive at a more confident answer for us all.
Two principles: the Law of Large Numbers and Delight.
The Law of Large Numbers
You can read more about the Law of Large Numbers here, but the tl;dr as it relates to restaurants is that the more opinions there are, the more likely the average of those opinions is true. So now, "what's the minimum number of opinions needed?" Thanks to Survey Monkey's sample size calculator, I was able to calculate that: 264 reviews with 90% confidence and a 5% margin of error.
I am aware Yelp, to some degree, has a bad rep for the integrity of their reviews. There are ways to purchase reviews and manipulate your overall evaluation (Yelp is not the only site susceptible to this). Yelpers can be schmoozed, friends and family can be enlisted, there can be special offers in exchange for reviews, all dig away at the integrity of the data.
Despite all of the discrepancies Yelp undeniably has the largest activity and available data set of crowd-sourced reviews. It's also the ubiquitous resource for researching a restaurant. Google and Tripadvisor simply don't have enough reviews; in this case, bigger is better.
Nobody wants to walk out of a restaurant and think "meh". Who wants a mediocre experience? You want to feel as though you've made the right, no, the best choice available to you. That's the feeling we, at Goghism, are striving to help provide through our research.
Let me introduce you to our metric: The Restaurant Delight Index (RDI). The formula is:
(((Very Satisfied + Extremely Satisfied) - (Not Satisfied + Extremely Not Satisfied))/ # of Responses) * 100.
Applying it to Yelp, it looks like this:
(((# of 4 ratings + # of 5 ratings) - (# of 2 ratings + # of 1 ratings)) / # of reviews) * 100.
You probably noticed there are no 3 ratings. A restaurant should not be rewarded for "meh" experiences. Come on! I'm not wasting my time there and I don't want you to either.
To summarize, here's our ranking methodology:
- Must have a minimum of 264 reviews.
- Ranked by Restaurant Delight Index.
- Fakespot applied to verify the quality of reviews.
- Must incorporate Korean cuisine across most of the dishes.
Results may have changed slightly by the time you read this (research takes time, we don't have a team of monkeys churning all this out).
That's it! Now, let's get started!
I started with best Korean fusion restaurants primarily because of how well they performed under RDI compared to its peers. What's next in this series is to uncover the best Korean BBQ and best Korean non-KBBQ restaurants in New York. In the meantime, if you're curious, check out which Korean restaurants in California delighted their customers best.