Jua NYC is a beacon of culinary mastery in the Flatiron district of Manhattan. It has quietly developed a cult following of regulars, especially those seeking an exquisite yet low-key fine dining experience. Chef Hoyoung Kim opened Jua in 2020 and his modern Korean tasting menu earned him a Michelin star just one year later in 2021. Chef Kim’s wood-fired Korean restaurant is named after his daughter Jua (“joo-ah”) whose name signifies “joie” in French. And what a joy this restaurant is.
Each of the seven courses is meticulously orchestrated to showcase cherished Korean flavors. But you don’t visit Jua just for great Korean fare. You go to experience how a seasoned professional at the top of his game can actualize cuisine that’s both utterly new and familiar at the same time. Each dish is a unique and artful creation that simultaneously reminds us of our traditional Korean favorites. Most of all, the courses are both beautiful to look at and sublimely delicious.
The menu ($135 for a seven-course tasting course) is refreshed each month, creating a unique fine dining experience each time you visit. My husband and I visited Jua for our wedding anniversary and already can’t wait to go back. Each course was so wonderfully presented and delicious, the service was superb, and the setting was rustic but elegant. Special occasions or not, Jua NYC is now the restaurant you must visit when you are in New York City.
The 7 Courses at Jua NYC
1. Caviar Kim
Jua’s first course was Caviar Kim. When our waiter brought out the dish, I was awed by the imperial presentation of the introductory course. This luxed-up kimbap is literally crowned with caviar and so our culinary adventure began.
Our waiter advised us to eat this in one bite or two and I put the whole Kimbap into my mouth at once. Instantly, I pleasantly felt the crispiness of kim (a dried sheet of seaweed) in my mouth as I started to chew. After the initial smoky taste and crispy texture of kim, my taste buds got awakened by smooth and somehow creamy caviar, which softly popped and melted in my mouth. This was followed by the rich and buttery bluefin tuna tartare and avocado.
Finally, I felt the subtle sweetness of well-cooked rice in my mouth with a hint of truffle flavor along with a welcome snap of kimchi. I have to say this was my favorite course and my desolation at so quickly finishing my bite will haunt me for some time.
Jua’s second course was Mulhoe (물회, spicy raw fish cold soup). Chef Kim performed some magic in preserving the integrity of Korea’s favorite traditional summer dish by mixing conventional ingredients like Korean pickled radish and Korean pear with unorthodox ingredients like cilantro and tomato. Chef Kim’s Mulhoe incorporates the freshest of raw fish in an icy bath of red hot pepper broth with vegetables and fruits and is finished with sesame oil masterfully. It was cold and so refreshing, and felt wonderfully delightful on a hot summer night!
Jua’s third course was Jook (죽, Korean Rice Porridge). Jook is the ultimate Korean comfort food for a cold day to warm your body when you need something richly nourishing. In contrast to the cold and refreshing second course, Chef Kim’s third course warmed the heart with delicate, abundant, buttery, and meaty umami flavor of foie gras. While the star of this course was the foie gras, the king-trumpet mushrooms and spinach also shone bright as the supporting cast, with each ingredient harmoniously coming together in every perfect bite.
Jua’s fourth course was a sous vide Halibut with butter reduction and kale. As our server approached our table, I was pleasantly enticed by a smoky char aroma wafting from my plate. This meaty and savory fish just melts in your mouth with a bold char savor and I couldn’t help but pause mid-bite to truly appreciate the exceptional gastronomy involved in this creation.
5. Galbi & Chan
Jua’s fifth course was Galbi and Chan. Flawlessly marinated and cooked medium rare. Sublime in its simplicity and execution. And loved the cheekiness of shortening banchan into “Chan”, which was was artfully and beautifully arranged as supporting players.
Every banchan, or side dish, perfectly accompanied the Galbi with distinctive flavors and textures. My favorite Chan were the lotus root and Korean melon. The fried lotus root was appetizingly marinated with Korean spicy BBQ sauce and its crunchy texture burst pleasantly in my mouth. When I got to the Korean melon, I was most pleasantly taken aback. I first thought it was radish since it looked like kkakdugi (깍뚜기, a type of kimchi made from diced radish). Therefore, when I took my first bite, I was surprised by the crunchy and succulent texture of the Korean melon. I had no idea that the mild, subtly sweet, and floral flavor of Korean melon went so well with Kimchi sauce!
Jua’s sixth course was the first of two desserts and was just a wonder! It has three components, a thin round raspberry opaline on top, strawberry sorbet in the middle, and greek yogurt foam with fresh strawberries at the bottom. It was so beautiful that I didn’t want to ruin it by eating it. However, after breaking the opaline and taking the first bite, my initial thought was all but forgotten and the heavenly creation rapidly disappeared from my plate. This sixth course will make your senses explode with its crisp, sweet, creamy and tart goodness.
7. Green Tea Bingsu
Jua’s last course featured my all time favorite Korean dessert; green tea bingsu! The bittersweet taste of green tea shaved ice was so velvety and frosty. The nutty and earthy flavor of red bean paste contrasted wonderfully to the shaved ice with fresh watermelon as a perfect compliment. This shaved ice dessert was a fabulous finale to this astonishing tasting menu.
7 Course Tasting Menu – $135
Wine Pairing – $95
Tues – Sun: 6:00pm to 11:00pm