Bungeo-ppang, a fish-formed waffle, is a beloved Korean pastry that’s typically stuffed with sweet purple-bean paste. At the new NoMad restaurant Tiny Mad, from the entrepreneurs of Atomix and Her Name Is Han, the thirty-a few-year-aged chef Sol Han’s bungeo-ppang is an amuse-bouche built savory with a scallion-laden batter, hollowed of filling and fluffed up in texture. The reinvented fish bun arrives sitting future to a pat of abundant seaweed butter, seeming cannily conscious of its metamorphosis. “Is it a scallion pancake or bread or a Korean pastry?” Han requested when I spoke to him recently. “I like to say, ‘It’s just a Very little Mad.’ ”
This opening salvo sets the tone for the Korean-inflected cuisine, which, contemplating the restaurant’s proximity to the merry chaos of K-town, appears to be decided to establish its possess identification. With a smooth open up kitchen area and a tapas-design menu (there are no entrées, only tiny and a bit less little plates), Very little Mad cultivates a spare, cosmopolitan awesome. Han, who moved from Korea to New York at the age of 7, grew up helping at his parents’ Japanese restaurant and has worked in upscale Italian and French kitchens. An effortless simplicity with each the East and the West informs his boldness of vision and his tilt towards experimentation and reinvention.
At their most thriving, Han’s creations are dazzlingly poetic. Consider the yellowtail dish, which grew out of Han’s stress with the normal presentation of his beloved fish. “I’ve only viewed it served flat, and I desired to give it top,” he informed me. His solution—to sandwich a slim sashimi slice amongst translucent wafers of Asian pear—is elegant and sculptural, evoking a fish swimming by means of an emerald-and-yellow pool of scallion oil and lemon juice. “The dressing is one thing my mothers and fathers used on the residence salad at their restaurant for twenty many years,” he reported. “So this is also my way of having to pay tribute to them.”
For the crispy pig-ear salad, cartilage-veined ribbons are braised, deep-fried, and nestled atop frisée. The dressing, a fermented-shrimp vinaigrette with kombu aioli, cuts through the richness of the pig ears while supplying a turbocharged explosion of umami—not poor for some thing Han describes as “super straightforward and snacky.” When requested to determine Mad in the context of Minor Mad, Han laughed and claimed it was likely some blend of “crazy, funky, distinctive, and creative.”
A person of the restaurant’s most Instagrammable dishes is the beef tartare, which comes with oversized moss-inexperienced chips, made from maesaengi seaweed, in the form of elephant ears. It’s introduced with a miniature picket hammer, to crack the chips into shards for scooping the meat. All this theatre is innocuous plenty of, nevertheless it arrives off as gratuitous pageantry—why could not the chips be crushed in the kitchen? A person diner, who was trying to determine no matter if the beef or the chips needed hammering, said that it appeared to be the variety of gimmick that felt indulgent somewhat than delightful.
The Tuna Mul-hwe is another dish that attempts most likely a bit also challenging. Mul-hwe, which indicates “seafood in drinking water,” is a Korean summer favored that functions ice cubes in a chilly broth. To make it Mad, Han swaps the cubes for a tomato slushie, which peeks out from less than a stack of jalapeño, cucumber, and crimson onion. The principle is novel, but the slushie—which caused, in 1 diner, a “spicy brain freeze”—feels like an unnecessary distraction.
The menu ends on a potent observe, with a rice dish built for extravagance. (At 30-just one pounds, it’s amid the most pricey objects listed here.) Han advised me that he remembered the way his white friends ate rice when they had been younger—with a spoonful of butter. This influenced him to mingle the meaty flavors of roasted maitake and oyster mushrooms with marrow, scraped from the bone tableside. It requires bravado to invent some thing new with rice, and this dish entirely earns Han’s preferred description: it’s indisputably a Tiny Mad. (Dishes $18-$45.) ♦