[Review] Mari NYC is Superb

Mari NYC is an elevated Korean restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen that is simply a must-try. Chef Sungchul Shim opened his first restaurant, Kochi NYC in Hell’s Kitchen in October 2019 and the restaurant quickly earned a Michelin Star by offering a menu that modernized the traditional flavors of Korean royal court food with modern gastronomic techniques using the freshest local ingredients. With the tremendous success of Kochi, Chef Shim and his team opened their second Korean restaurant, Mari NYC a block away in December 2021; it took less than a year for Michelin to award Mari a star of its own.

Chef Shim’s first restaurant focused on serving his beautiful and delicious food on skewers since Kochi (꼬치) in Korean means skewer and the word is the restaurant’s name and identity. The main theme of his second restaurant is a re-imagination of the humble hand roll. Mari (마리) is the Korean word for a hand roll. And again, Chef Shim did a marvelous job featuring an ingenious 12-course tasting menu inspired by Korean hand rolls using the best quality vegetables, seafood, and meat with perfectly cooked rice and meticulously seasoned gim (roasted seaweed). Each mari presents the physical beauty and the profound flavor of Korean cuisine.

Since Kochi is one of my favorite restaurants in New York City, I was truly excited to try Mari. My dinner companions and I could not wait to compare Mari’s tasting menu with Kochi’s. But we were a little apprehensive that we might be disappointed with the head-to-head challenge.

As Mari’s first course came out, we put our fears to rest. Each dish was lovely to look at and every bite was a delight. The staff was attentive, professional, cheerful, and proud of what they were serving. In short, the whole dining experience was just superb. Mari NYC is simply a must-try Korean restaurant that is perfect for any occasion that warrants a magnificent meal.


1. First Course – HANSANG 한상

Bang-Eo Mari, Octopus, Gochu Jeon, Chamchi Hwe, Cripsy Kimchi Rice

The first course came out on a beautiful wooden square tray that consisted of 5 small plates. Han sang (한상) means ‘one table’ in Korean. So the wooden square tray here is the Hansang. A Korean meal often consists of rice and soup, with various side dishes. Mari’s interpretation of Hansang consists only of side dishes without rice and soup. However, those five side dishes were excellent and you will not miss the rice and soup.

Yellowtail mari was very tasty and beautiful with a transparent flower shape gelatin on the top. Octopus mari was so tender that melted in your mouth instantly. Gochu jeon (고추전, meat stuffed pepper) was meaty and juicy with a wonderful soy marinade. Chamchi Hwe (참치회, tuna diced sashimi) with a little drop of yolk on the top had a crisp fried rice paper on the outside that went well with the smooth texture of tuna. Lastly, Crispy Kimchi rice was fried in a ball shape with the right amount of kimchi flavor and spiciness and each crunchy bite was the perfect ending to the first course.


2. Second Course – Cod Mandu 어만두

Daenjang-Cod, Egg Crepe, Korean Radish Namul, Seafood Dashi

The second course was cod mandu (만두, dumpling) with Korean radish in a seafood dashi soup. The cod was steamed and marinated in daenjang (된장, Korean bean paste) to perfection and wrapped with an egg crepe. Both textures were so soft and juicy with the nutty and salty taste of daenjang marinated cod coating my mouth pleasantly. The dumpling was accompanied exquisitely by the smooth, sweet, and neutral taste of cooked Korean radish and fish dashi soup as well.


3. Third Course – Caviar Salmon 케비어 연어

The third course was the first hand roll of the tasting menu. With king salmon, sturgeon caviar, and white sesame, this was just so so good! You think you can know how it tastes. However, this heavenly bite of hand roll will exceed your expectations. Right before Cavier Salmon Mari, you will receive an assortment of pickled banchan which include beets, radish, celery, and cauliflower. Those pickled banchan will be refilled throughout the whole meal.


4. Fourth Course – Scallop 관자

The fourth course was a roll with marinated scallop and stir-fried anchovies on top. With the first bite of this hand roll, I was overwhelmed by the burst of flavors and textures. The makgeolli vinaigrette marinated scallop was delicious and tender and the caramelized anchovies were cheerfully crunchy. This was my favorite mari for sure.


5. Fifth Course – Pine Mushroom 송이버섯

The fifth course is the Pine Mushroom Hand Roll. The aroma of pine mushrooms tickled my senses. The harmonious flavors in and around the assorted mushrooms created a symphony on my tongue.


6. Sixth Course – Spicy Tuna 매운참치

The sixth course is a creamy cooked tuna salad with gochujang, pickled serrano peppers, and garlic oil topped with fried potato crumbles. This is a perfect combination of spiciness, sweetness, saltiness, creaminess, and crunchiness in one marvelous bite.


7. Seventh Course – Snow Crab 스노우 크랩

The seventh course is a Snow Crab Hand Roll. The genius of this roll is that they use tapioca chip instead of gim (, seaweed). The crunchiness of tapioca chip divinely complements the soft snow crab! The top view of this hand roll looks like a flower bed. It was so beautiful that my eyes got to feast first.


8. Eighth Course – Duck 훈제 오리

The eighth course is a hand roll that featured thinly cut smoked duck slices with fried garlic flakes on the top. This incredibly tender duck is cured in pink salt, a pastrami rub, and cooked sous vide. Also a little bit of ssamjang (쌈장, a thick spicy paste made with Korean soybean paste) is on the top of the smoked duck which enhances this mari with a burst of flavors.


9. Ninth Course – Soy-Marinated Galbi 갈비

(A5 Wagyu & Truffle Supplement $15)

For the ninth and the last hand roll course, you can choose either the regular beef in Mari’s Menu or A5 wagyu with truffle slices on top for $15 extra. My husband decided on the A5 wagyu with truffle slices; whereas I went with the regular beef. Of course, the beautifully marbled A5 wagyu with galbi marinade was exquistedly tasty and the oaky, nutty, earthy, sweet, and juicy truffles perfectly complemented the wagyu beef. However, my beef was also excellent! Personally, I’m not sure there is much difference in taste between the two cuts of beef since the phenomal galbi marinade plays an equalizing role.


10. Tenth Course – Guksu 고기 국수

Hearty Chicken Broth, Soy-Braized Pork Belly, Gochu Oil

The tenth course is a Korean traditional noodle soup and I love this dish! With thin noodles, slices of braised pork, red chili oil, and thinly sliced green onion on top of the pork, this soup is a perfect ending to the meal’s savory chapters. I found myself devouring every last drop of this hardy chicken broth and wishing for more. But the dessert courses sang their siren song.


11. Eleventh Course – Sujeong-Gwa 수정과

Cinnamon-Ginger Punch, Pine Nut, Omija Scorched Rice Cracker

The eleventh course consisted of Korean traditional desserts. Sujeong-Gwa (수정과, Korean Traditional Cinnamon-Ginger Punch) had a sweet, spicy, citrusy, and woody flavor in an icy slush which was so refreshing. Omija Scorched Rice Cracker (강정) was so light, it brought cotton candy to mind and melted in my mouth.


12. Twelfth Course – Ice Cream Sandwich 아이스크림 샌드

Chocolate Caramel Ice Cream, Sable Cocoa Crumble

The twelfth and last course on Mari’s tasting menu is a chocolate ice cream sandwich which can never go wrong! The ice cream is so delicious and a wonderful finale to this remarkable dining experience!


Chef’s Special Mari – Urchin 성게 $16

We decided to order a Chef’s special Urchin hand roll additionally since sea urchin is one of my favorite hand rolls. The mari came out between Pine Mushroom Hand Roll (5th course) and Spicy Tuna Hand Roll (6th course). The soy sauce marinated raw tuna piece came underneath Santa Barbara sea urchin. The creamy, sweet, and ocean flavor of urchin and the honeyed salty flavor of tuna played perfect notes on my palate, I was in heaven. I highly recommend ordering the Urchin Hand Roll!


Mari’s Sool (, Alcohol in Korean)

There is an alcohol pairing for $105 per person which consists of Korean traditional alcohol and Italian wine. We decided not to do the pairing but order some of their signature cocktails and Korean traditional alcohol since we would not be drinking much and wanted to choose what to drink ourselves. I strongly recommend exploring some of their Korean traditional alcohol since it is so different from American or European drinks.


Mari NYC

679 9th Ave.
New York, NY 10036

646-649-3545

MARI TASTING MENU 135
SOOL PAIRING 105

Sun – Thur: 5:00pm – 9:30pm

Fri, Sat: 5:00pm – 10:00pm


Hanyoo Park is a content creator for Best of Korea. She was born in Seoul, Korea, and currently lives and works in Manhattan. She is a mom to a middle schooler and a proud maximalist who loves everything about life.

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