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New York

HAENYEO

New York

HAENYEO

BEST NEW BISTRO

HAENYEO

SHORTLISTED BY BISTRONAUT #1

WHO
Chef/owner Jenny Kwak made her mark on the culinary scene with traditional Korean cooking at Manhattan restaurants Do Hwa and Dok Suni’s, both now closed. Lucky for Park Slope, Kwak is now bringing her expert and playful take on traditional Korean home-cooking to hungry diners in Brooklyn. Her menu includes galbi, bibimbap, and pitch-perfect gyoza alongside less traditionally Korean dishes that show Kwak’s wide range of influences from other cuisines. For her focus at Haenyeo, Kwak’s cooking dips a toe into seafood waters (pun intended), but still plays around with the menu, including a queso fundido with rice cakes and pillowy New-Orleans-style beignets for dessert, an homage to her husband’s Louisiana roots.

FOOD
Haenyeo is all about soulful Korean home-cooking with a dash of creativity from a modern, cosmopolitan chef with a penchant for seafood. You’ll find a large menu of both small and big plates featuring kimchi beef gyoza ($11), beautifully topped with a lace-like crisp made from cornstarch slurry; two bibimbap options (one hot with your choice of protein – the spicy squid was great) and a cold seafood option. A small banchan selection hits the table with 5 or 6 bursts of flavor.
Don’t skip the piping hot queso fundido ($14) that feels like some Korean tteok-bakki fell into a tub full of Cholula hot sauce in Mexico City. If that metaphor is too much of a stretch, picture a piping hot pool of spicy gochujang, gochugaru chili powder and beef broth seasoned with soy sauce, garlic and toasted sesame oil, resulting in a spicy red soup for long floating rice cake under a blanket of bubbling oaxaca cheese and pile of sizzling, loose chorizo.
Do me a favor and treat yourself to the best warm oysters we’ve ever found in NYC. They come plump and submerged in melted seaweed garlic butter with a side of grilled brioche toast. Do yourself a favor and order a second round.
The barbecue beef ssam ($34) came thinly sliced and chopped, on a bed of white onions sizzling on a hot plate. Spread the lettuce and shiso leaves with funky gochujang for an umami-laden wrap. Mackerel, bouillabaisse and cod fillets tucked into scallion-shiso pancakes are other standouts. The spicy squid bibimbap hot pot ($19) gets the rice crackling and crispy while you stir in an egg.

DRINKS
A good wine selection (just over a dozen options of red, white and bubbles by the bottle, from $28-$84). You’ll find a perfect white Burgundy to pair with the food for $69.
But don’t skip the brilliant cocktails, which feature ingredients like umeboshi, lychee, lemongrass shochu and sesame oil. Also listed are a selection of sakes, Asian spirits like unfiltered Makkoli (rice wine), beers and alcohol-free spritzers.

DECOR
The front part of the corner location is a cozy, airy bar area with big windows that let in gorgeous daylight. Toward the back of the open space, white walls, decorative moulding and warm wooden floors make everything feel casual but chic; soft lighting highlights the beautiful black and white photos of Haenyeo, the female divers who gather seafood from the Korean coast, after whom the restaurant is named. Further inspection of the soft lighting reveals pendant lampshades made from luminescent abalone shells.

NOISE
A very reasonable volume – read boisterous – for a neighborhood spot. Not deafening, but the hard of hearing should come early or late. The restaurant had cleared out abruptly by 9:30 p.m. on a weeknight.

SEATING
Bar stools up front and in the back section, partitioned off somewhat, with wooden tables in the middle and banquettes lining the wall.

VIBE
A very bustling weekday neighborhood bistro, chic but casual. It’s what you might expect decor-wise – not overly busy or trendy, but relaxed just enough to provide a quiet backdrop for the food. The vibrant crowd gave the place a buzzy feel on a weeknight, but with no third seating, we closed down the restaurant with our 8:30 p.m. reservation.

SERVICE
The staff were all really friendly and excited about the food. Ask anything and you’ll likely get an answer with a surprising level of detail. A 20% tip felt like the right move.

WOULD RECOMMEND
100%. I will go back any time for those oysters. A great choice for a meal with friends or date night.

WHO
Chef/owner Jenny Kwak made her mark on the culinary scene with traditional Korean cooking at Manhattan restaurants Do Hwa and Dok Suni’s, both now closed. Lucky for Park Slope, Kwak is now bringing her expert and playful take on traditional Korean home-cooking to hungry diners in Brooklyn. Her menu includes galbi, bibimbap, and pitch-perfect gyoza alongside less traditionally Korean dishes that show Kwak’s wide range of influences from other cuisines. For her focus at Haenyeo, Kwak’s cooking dips a toe into seafood waters (pun intended), but still plays around with the menu, including a queso fundido with rice cakes and pillowy New-Orleans-style beignets for dessert, an homage to her husband’s Louisiana roots.

FOOD
Haenyeo is all about soulful Korean home-cooking with a dash of creativity from a modern, cosmopolitan chef with a penchant for seafood. You’ll find a large menu of both small and big plates featuring kimchi beef gyoza ($11), beautifully topped with a lace-like crisp made from cornstarch slurry; two bibimbap options (one hot with your choice of protein – the spicy squid was great) and a cold seafood option. A small banchan selection hits the table with 5 or 6 bursts of flavor.
Don’t skip the piping hot queso fundido ($14) that feels like some Korean tteok-bakki fell into a tub full of Cholula hot sauce in Mexico City. If that metaphor is too much of a stretch, picture a piping hot pool of spicy gochujang, gochugaru chili powder and beef broth seasoned with soy sauce, garlic and toasted sesame oil, resulting in a spicy red soup for long floating rice cake under a blanket of bubbling oaxaca cheese and pile of sizzling, loose chorizo.
Do me a favor and treat yourself to the best warm oysters we’ve ever found in NYC. They come plump and submerged in melted seaweed garlic butter with a side of grilled brioche toast. Do yourself a favor and order a second round.
The barbecue beef ssam ($34) came thinly sliced and chopped, on a bed of white onions sizzling on a hot plate. Spread the lettuce and shiso leaves with funky gochujang for an umami-laden wrap. Mackerel, bouillabaisse and cod fillets tucked into scallion-shiso pancakes are other standouts. The spicy squid bibimbap hot pot ($19) gets the rice crackling and crispy while you stir in an egg.

DRINKS
A good wine selection (just over a dozen options of red, white and bubbles by the bottle, from $28-$84). You’ll find a perfect white Burgundy to pair with the food for $69.
But don’t skip the brilliant cocktails, which feature ingredients like umeboshi, lychee, lemongrass shochu and sesame oil. Also listed are a selection of sakes, Asian spirits like unfiltered Makkoli (rice wine), beers and alcohol-free spritzers.

DECOR
The front part of the corner location is a cozy, airy bar area with big windows that let in gorgeous daylight. Toward the back of the open space, white walls, decorative moulding and warm wooden floors make everything feel casual but chic; soft lighting highlights the beautiful black and white photos of Haenyeo, the female divers who gather seafood from the Korean coast, after whom the restaurant is named. Further inspection of the soft lighting reveals pendant lampshades made from luminescent abalone shells.

NOISE
A very reasonable volume – read boisterous – for a neighborhood spot. Not deafening, but the hard of hearing should come early or late. The restaurant had cleared out abruptly by 9:30 p.m. on a weeknight.

SEATING
Bar stools up front and in the back section, partitioned off somewhat, with wooden tables in the middle and banquettes lining the wall.

VIBE
A very bustling weekday neighborhood bistro, chic but casual. It’s what you might expect decor-wise – not overly busy or trendy, but relaxed just enough to provide a quiet backdrop for the food. The vibrant crowd gave the place a buzzy feel on a weeknight, but with no third seating, we closed down the restaurant with our 8:30 p.m. reservation.

SERVICE
The staff were all really friendly and excited about the food. Ask anything and you’ll likely get an answer with a surprising level of detail. A 20% tip felt like the right move.

WOULD RECOMMEND
100%. I will go back any time for those oysters. A great choice for a meal with friends or date night.

CHEF

Jenny Kwak

OPENING DAYS

The restaurant is open for dinner only

RESERVATIONS

Accepts bookings for a portion of the seats one month in advance via their website .

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