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Kimchic

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Momofuku Ko’s much-discussed prix fixe menu might be the buzziest in town, but it’s not the only one—or even the only one in the immediate vicinity. Across First Avenue and down 10th Street, in a long, narrow room that encompasses a single twenty-seat communal table and culminates in an open kitchen, Momofuku alum Youngsun Lee has launched Persimmon, his seasonal, prix fixe tribute to traditional Korean cuisine. Lee, who left a career in graphic design for cooking school and subsequent stints at EN Japanese Brasserie and Craftbar, last worked the lunch shift at Momofuku Noodle Bar. But where that establishment is bustling and frenetic, the month-old Persimmon has the preternatural serenity of a spot that’s yet to be discovered. That might be due, in part, to a prix fixe–only menu that costs $37 and requires the dedication of the greater part of an evening. Lee changes the menu bi-weekly, and the one the U.G. recently savored has already been retired. It revolved, as all forthcoming menus will, around a particular ingredient, in this case red snapper, which Lee served as a boldly seasoned sashimi, simply grilled, and as the base of a hearty soup. Other options (there are three choices per course) featured traditional ingredients like the sautéed sweet-potato noodles called jab chae, and that culinary crossover star, pork belly, offered in a “bo ssäm” small-plate arrangement with salted cabbage leaves, or as an alternative to mushrooms in an invigorating kimchi stew. Most traditional of all were imported banchan, or complementary sides, like fermented fish intestines (not bad but a bit chewy), and a pre-dessert rice soup made with tea. It’s bland and soothing, and, according to Lee, not only aids digestion but can cure a hangover (277 E. 10th St., nr. Ave. A; 212-260-9080).


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