TravelNoise: Zusik, New York City
When you’re on the west side looking for some good, soulful Asian fare, look no further than Zusik, the South Korean restaurant that is bound to be the highlight of your week.
Upon entering the restaurant, which is squeezed onto 14th street and cozily nestled one half floor down from street level, my guest and I noticed the theme of stone and white brick, with clean lines of wood, muted light and an open wall facing out to the street. Our host greeted us promptly and showed us to one of the front-facing tables.
The menu is creative, yet grounded—you can easily navigate the options while finding the thrill in coming across some innovative twists on old favorites. First, we looked over the unique list of cocktails, and we decided on the summer sky ($13) and fire obsession ($13). The summer sky, which was made of soju, yuzu extract and sparkling blue cocktail, was refreshing, light, pretty and fragrant, while the fire obsession, comprised of tequila, mezcal, plum and lime with a spicy rim, was super smoky yet balanced, and wonderfully dynamic.
We could barely focus our attention away from our drinks for a moment before our host recommended a few appetizers: the pork bun ($10), vegetable platter ($10) and pork rinds ($15). They arrived just minutes after we placed the order, and the pork bun, which was made of soy glazed pork belly, pickled veggies, mustard seeds and bean paste aioli, was juicy, tender and flavorful. The vegetable platter, which included oven roasted beet, yam, mushroom, green purée, beet sauce and chili oil, was solid and hearty with big chunks of sweet beet, perfectly cooked yam, and a healthy kick from chili oil. The pork rinds, which came with nori cracker, truffle chicken liver mousse and pine nut, were crunchy and savory, fatty with flavorful chicken liver mousse.
My guest and I would’ve been just fine with the appetizers, but we couldn’t leave without trying a few mains, primarily the mushroom japchae with beef ($13), served with sautéed glass noodle, king oyster mushrooms, enoki mushroom and assorted vegetables, and the beef short ribs ($19) with truffle mashed potato and lemon salt. The japchae was packed full of vegetables, perfectly complemented by a savory sauce, while the short ribs were tender and succulent, seared on a bed of fluffy, pillowy mashed potato.
If you’re looking for a cozy mix of comfort and Asian fare, look no further than Zusik, which will offer you the deepest part of South Korea’s Seoul (sic). You won’t want to miss the short ribs, for sure, but save some room for the vegetable platter (and a few drinks, of course).
Address: 202 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011
Phone: (646) 370-5331