If all you know of Korean cuisine is barbecue and bibimbap, you'd do well to visit Oiji, a relaxed new restaurant that opened a few weeks ago on 1st Avenue. There, culinary school pals Brian Kim (Bouley) and Tae Kyung Ku (Gramercy Tavern) are recreating the flavors of their native Korea with a mind towards utilizing more contemporary techniques and presentations. That's all very interesting, of course, but the most important thing is that whatever they're doing in the kitchen is delicious and you should probably go there immediately. Like, now.
Start with the "Chil-jeolpan" Seven Flavors ($14), which'll be showing up on all the foodiot Instagrams within the month. Around a stack of colorful, gossamer thin rice flour crepes are delicate piles of julienned vegetables (carrot and cucumber), egg (yolk and white), beef and mushrooms. Grab a little of each, pile it on to the pancake and drizzle with mustard sauce. It's simple, but it's fun, which more food should be. Fried Chicken ($13) isn't the crust-heavy affair we're accustomed to with Southern-minded cuisines. Instead, it's dredged in tapioca flour, lending the resulting batter an ethereal quality.
If you're like me and think buttered noodles are an appropriate dinner for someone over 30, definitely get the "Jang-jo-rim" ($10). The bowl of heavily-buttered rice comes topped with ribbons of mushroom, cubes of daikon radish, strips of tender braised beef and a soft boiled egg. Equally comforting is the Truffle Seafood Broth with Sizzling Crispy Rice ($18), a fragrant bowl of rich crimson broth studded with seafood (mussles, shrimp, squid) and topped with two squares of crunchy puffed rice. Let the rice soak up some of the broth so it softens just a bit and takes on the wonderful seafood flavor.
There's no dessert menu here, but that's where the Honey Butter Chips ($5) come in. This bowl of made-to-order chips arrives hot, straight from a bath in honey, brown sugar and butter (yes, butter). Once out of the fat, they're tossed with cayenne pepper and salt. Even if you pigged out on multiple dishes before, I challenge you to restrain yourself from eating the whole bowl.
119 1st Avenue, 646-767-9050; website