Oiji was created from a partnership between two Korean-born chefs, Brian Kim and Tae Kyung Ku, who attended the Culinary Institute of America together and worked respectively at Bouley and Gramercy Tavern.
I can only congratulate Mr. Kim and Ku for their successful venturing beyond the traditional Korean dishes such as Bibimpap, Bulgogi, Gimbap, Galbi, and the popular Korean BBQ, although I do like those very much.
Small plates to share is the concept Chefs Kim and Ku successfully implemented for their stylish restaurant in the East village. The combination of narrow space, bare bricks, wooden tables, and ambient lighting create a very cozy atmosphere in the restaurant. The impressive glass ceiling light in the middle gives a very modern touch to the décor. Even the simplicity of the plate’s setting with the chopsticks and the wooden spoon collaborate to add to the refinement of the décor.
We were a party of five, which allowed us to order many dishes from the menu, which I highly recommend. We enjoyed the fried chicken with spicy soy vinaigrette, slow cooked pork belly and kimchi, and the platter with spicy pork and “Gang-deon-jang”. Everything was tasty and surprising! The lotus leaf rapped sticky rice are presented in their leaves witch brings authenticity to the dish. The mushroom salad with pine nuts and the slow cooked baby octopus were not only delicious but also colorful and attractive.
The “jung-jo-rim” with buttered rice and soft-boiled egg was the big discovery of the dinner; I have to admit I was not expecting such a refined taste coming from that bowl.
The pine leaves smoked mackerel with citrus soy was so good. It comes with a little brush made of pine needles tied with a string and a tiny recipient with the sauce to use to coat the fish. I thought the presentation was really appealing.
The truffle seafood broth with sizzling crispy rice had a very attractive presentation; I couldn’t resist videotaping it. You can watch it on my Instagram. The crispy rice, although melting in the hot broth, was still crunchy and brought an additional texture to the juicy mussels.
The honey butter chips was not my favorite, and in my opinion is not a great dessert – or let me put it this way, I still prefer my chips to be savory.
Oiji impressed me with this modern version of Korean cuisine: revisiting and recreating classic dishes with new ingredients and artistic presentation.
119 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10003
Small dishes, $14 to $19
Large dishes: $23 to $32
Monday – Thursday: 6pm – 10:30pm
Friday – Saturday: 6pm – 11pm
Sunday: 5pm – 10pm