Michelin Stars: 1
Address: 679 Greenwich Street
On an unheralded corner of the West Village, removed from the usual passing trade of workers and tourists, sits one of New York’s best kept fine-dining secrets. At first glance you could write Jeju off as being ‘just another noodle bar’, but it merits a second – and much longer – look. This is a specialist restaurant with a Korean menu, and an authentic-yet-refined approach to the combination of ramyun and broths that it serves to curious diners.
Jeju takes its name from an island set just off the coast of South Korea; one which is known across the region for its pig farming and excellent fishing waters. Accordingly, the menu here is full of fantastically-crafted pork and seafood dishes. It’s difficult to translate ‘Jeju’ into the Western tongue, but in vague terms it means ‘talent or ability’. That makes it more than just a name – it’s an aspiration and a goal.
Ramyun, as you may have guessed from the name, bears similarities with Japanese ramen, but has subtle and distinct differences. Ensuring those differences can be tasted and appreciated by diners is the task of head chef Douglas Kim. His resume suggests he’s up to the job – Kim has worked at Gordon Ramsay NYC, Per Se, Morimoto and Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare; all of which are Michelin-starred. That means he’s an excellent chef cooking his native cuisine; something that’s always been a recipe for success. Jeju is no exception to that rule.