We’ve been tailing Brooklyn-based chef Jonathan Meyer ever since he formidably combined the beer garden and banh mi crazes (remember those?) last summer at t.b.d. In the winter, he surfaced the Greenpoint Coffee House, where he introduced us to a top-notch burger and some of the best fried chicken we’ve had. The place was doing solid business, and it looked like Meyer and his partner Will Griffin, both 25, had found a permanent home. Not quite. In late 2009, the chefs learned the lease would not be renewed, and they’d have to relocate once again. Then in walked Lisa Kim.
Mrs. Kim the owner of the River Barrel, a small, sunny restaurant four blocks south of GPHC, had just lost her chef. She approached Meyer and Griffin and suggested the two continue to cook their same style of market-driven American food in her kitchen. But after surveying the menu, Meyer and Griffin realized they had an opportunity to try something else altogether. While searching for someone to helm her kitchen, Kim cooked the Korean dishes of her youth as specials. Meyer—who’s had experience preparing asian at Fatty Crab—and Griffin were immediately inspired. Under the tutelage of Mrs. Kim, an accomplished home cook, the menu was revamped as an ode to classic Korean dishes, and the River Barrel became Mrs. Kim’s, Greenpoint’s only Korean restaurant. The incognito transformation (the restaurant’s rustic decor remains unchanged) has both surprised and delighted locals who came expecting the Barrel’s American fare.
The Fatty Crab’s Zac Pelaccio has proven that you don’t need to be of Asian descent to create authentically-inspired oriental dishes. In the same vein, these well-executed dishes ring true to the Korean palette you’re accustomed to. The fried chicken is appropriately sticky with a gentle, hot and sweet glaze that coats the crispy, shell-like exterior. The Wagyu Brisket Bulgogi is melt-in-your-mouth tender, and comes with cradles of bibb lettuce to wrap it in. The Hangover kimchi stew is a fiery concoction served with pork shoulder and pork belly. But enough description. It’s time for some highly intense food porn shots of some Mrs. Kim’s Korean-inspired fare. See you there.
Whole Grilled Fava Beans: mint, kochukaru (korean chili flake), fish sauce.
Korean Fried Chicken: Sweet and spicy glaze, herbs (which change, but in this case, cilantro, thai basil, vietnamese mint, and anise hyssop), rice, pickled daikon, cucumber and celery.
Wagyu Brisket Bulgogi: Braised with soy sauce and apple juice, cabbage kimchi, scallions, rice, pickled daikon, cucumber celery.
Kim Dog: House-made sausage (pork shoulder, pork fat, gochujang, shallots, dried anchovies, ginger, garlic), chopped kimchi, gochujang ketchup.
Bibimbop: Slow-poached egg, carrots, bean sprouts, scallions, fern root, bellflower root, mushrooms, nori [seaweed], cabbage kimchi, daikon radish, kimchi.