Discover more from FOUND NY
Behind a secret door in LIC, peak haute Korean
RESTAURANTS • FOUND Table
In the back of Long Island City's acclaimed Korean takeout storefront, Little Banchan Shop, there's a hidden door, which opens into a dimly lit hallway, which will lead you to Meju: a grand, eight-seat room with 15-foot ceilings and a glowing-research-lab vibe, where chef Hooni Kim is turning out some of the most exciting Korean food in the city.
Kim, who earned a Michelin star at Danji and also owns Little Banchan Shop, is a master of fermentation. After being bottled up for years, all of his jangs (fermented sauces) are ready for their close up — including the 128-year-old ganjang (soy sauce), a salty, layered, dark hole of a condiment which the chef brushes onto black throat sea perch and beef tenderloin fritters. Other marvels of chemistry dazzle throughout the $185 tasting menu.
In service to the science at work, plates are refreshingly modest, not delicate or tweezered. On a recent visit, the final course was like a dream of a typical Korean home-cooked meal — a simple bowl of steamed white rice, Berkshire pork belly bathing in a 10-month-aged kimchi sauce, a sunny-side-up egg, and a plate of gim (short seaweed sheets). It may be hard to find, but Meju won’t stay hidden for long. –Kat Odell