My friend approaches me for a restaurant suggestion and asks, “So I have about four people for dinner tonight. Where do you think we should go? Nothing crazy.”
“I like Persimmon. It’s Neo Korean, East Village”, I say.
A few minutes later she tells me that Persimmon is closed. CLOSED.
“Wait you mean permanently?”
I quickly type into Google “Persimmon restaurant nyc” and see that all articles show that it is closed for good. It makes me sad because I had some great dishes there and it even got one star on the New York Times. Who else is surprised about this?
As I reminisce I feel the need to share this wonderful restaurant experience with you. The reason why I wanted to try Persimmon was because I was intrigued by the idea of Neo Korean cuisine. Kimchi, bulgogi, soondubu jiigae, these items are all familiar to me. Neo Korean? What does that look and taste like? I had to go to find out. Even when they first opened, they received a lot of press because the chef Young sun Lee cooked at places like Momofuku and EN Japanese Brasserie. Their menu had a cheap prix fix dinner for $37, and it changed often; there were a variety of dishes for a reasonable price. Here are photos of their food:
From top to bottom:
Crab Kimchi croquette (Gae Goroggae) – Crabmeat, potato, kimchi, bread crumbs, flour, egg, cream, tobiko (flying fish roe), port wine, and soy sauce
Sauteed Vegetables and Sweet Potato noodle (Jab Chae) – Sweet potato, noodles, cucumber, carrot, pyo go (shiitake), onion woo eong (gobo), and sweet pepper
Grilled Octopus salad (Moon Eo Goo Yi Salada) – Octopus, water chestnut, shallot, pickled mae sil (asian plum), garlic, rosemary, thyme, lemon, olive oil, soy sauce, and pepper flakes
Tofu Stew with Seafood (Hae Mool Soon Du Bu Jji Gae) – Silken tofu, spicy house dashi, baby octopus, shrimp, littleneck clam, kimchi, quail egg, and scallions
Bread Pudding With Black Sesame Seed Sauce – Bread, cream, mak gul ri (korean traditional sake), black sesame seed, honey, egg, and sugar
Ginger Tofu Mousse With Honey Sauce – Ginger, soy milk, silken tofu, honey, and white wine
Though this restaurant is short-lived I believe it made an impact on New Yorkers. It shows us that Korean food is still evolving, and there are chefs that continue to explore this cuisine. I would like to highlight some other restaurants in NYC that are exploring Korean cuisine: