When you visit an amusement park, you need to prioritize the rides. They’re all fun (except for the log flume, which is objectively terrible), but some are just more exciting than others. And when a very good restaurant offers both a tasting and an a la carte menu - with different dishes on each - you’re faced with the same kind of dilemma. This is the case at Jeong, an upscale Korean restaurant in West Town. You’ll have a great meal either way, but the tasting menu is the can’t-miss ride.
As mentioned, there are two ways you can go about things at Jeong: getting the $87 seven-course tasting menu, or ordering a la carte. And like Raging Bull versus Batman: The Ride, both options are great, but the former is an overall smoother experience that flows seamlessly. It has thoughtfully composed dishes like salmon tartare, made with a sweet and spicy yuzu gastrique, perfectly placed dollops of creme fraiche, and bubu arare (crispy rice puffs) that give it texture. Or a seared scallop with a bright clementine beurre blanc, served with just-bitter-enough spinach namul. Larger courses are also well-balanced, like the sliced duck breast on top of a rich and smoky soy glaze. The whole thing does exactly what a tasting menu should: it progresses naturally, gives you enough food, and makes you excited for the next course.
When it comes to the a la carte menu, dishes are still flavorful, but a little bumpier. You’ll find things like the tasty odeng (Jeong’s version is made with shrimp and topped with a gochujang aioli) and a fantastic broccoli salad with apples, cashews, and a smoked mayo. But not everything is as perfectly composed. For example, the mandu (dumplings filled with pork and kimchi) are tasty, but the fragile wrapper doesn’t hold up to the filling. And when the kalbi or duck confit mix with their accompanying purees and sauces, everything on the plate ends up getting very mushy. But there’s one standout on this side of the aisle, and that’s the fantastic tteokbokki. These spicy rice cakes are fried in schmaltz and have a wonderfully crispy and chewy texture. It’s a must-order, so the best strategy is to order the tasting menu and add on the tteokbokki to share.
You spend the same amount of money getting into Six Flags whether you decide to ride a coaster or just stick to those terrifying swings. And at Jeong, you’ll end up spending similar amounts per person whether you order the tasting or a la carte. While the tasting menu is a better all-around experience, either way you’re going to have a great meal. So don’t stress about the decision too much; you’ll probably want a season pass no matter what.
The menu changes, but here is a selection of what you might find on both the tasting and the a la carte menu.
Salmon tartare is rarely exciting, but at Jeong it is. The salmon is cured in a sweet and spicy dwenjang and yuzu gastrique and topped with dollops of creme fraiche and crunchy bits of bubu arare. In other words, each bite is a marvel of textural engineering.
At first this looks like a typical, precious tasting menu dish - because it is. It’s a perfectly cooked scallop with a little bit of sauce and a tiny tower of spinach. But it represents what Jeong does well. The sauce is a smooth clementine beurre blanc that both adds flavor and has enough citrus to cut through the richness of the scallop, and the spinach is spiced with namul. This is a fantastic plate of food.
The tender duck breast is served with some kimchi and nicely chewy rice. But the thing that pulls it all together is the soy reduction, which adds a deep smokiness that we love.
The wagyu is marbled and delicious, and a kimchi truffle emulsion complements the fatty beef. There’s some sunchoke on the side (both fried and pureed), which is a nice change of pace from potatoes.
This dessert is deceptively complex. The financier is served with a dwenjang caramel (better than any salted variety we’ve had), a light chocolate mousse, and topped with a smoked chestnut cream. It’s a perfect way to end the meal.
You can’t leave Jeong without these. They’re on the a la carte menu, but we recommend ordering them alongside the tasting menu. The rice cakes are springy and chewy, with a little crisp on the outside from being fried in schmaltz. The chili sauce is nice and hot and adds fantastic flavor. In fact, you could come here just for these and leave happy.
Odeng is a seafood cake, usually fish, and at Jeong they’re fried shrimp balls. They’re tasty the way fried things generally are, and topped with a gojuchang aioli that we really like.
We’ll start with the good about these dumplings, which is the flavorful pork and kimchi filling. But the house-made wrappers tend to fall apart, and it comes in a cucumber emulsion that mutes the flavors - it’s the only sauce here we don’t like very much.
Make sure you get this. The broccoli and stems are wok-fried, tossed with pieces of apple and cashew, and lightly dressed in a smoky mayo. You’re going to want to take this to your next picnic.
The short rib texture is tender like a pot roast and comes with confit turnips and a carrot veloute. Everything tastes good, but everything together feels very soft.
The flavors in this dish are amazing - the duck confit is seared nicely and served with a kabocha and sesame puree that adds sweetness. But a duck and gochujang jus is poured over it tableside, and while it adds some needed spice, it makes the dish mushy.