CHICAGO --What was once a tiny restaurant called Hanbun in the west suburbs, has become a beautiful restaurant called Jeong in Noble Square. Jeong seats just 40 guests along two long banquettes; decorative touches include traditional rice-paper screens and contemporary lights.
The traditional and contemporary theme plays out on the menu. Chef David Park’s food is based on the flavors of Korea, but then the chef’s creativity takes over.
Guests can order a la carte, or choose the seven-course, $87 tasting menu, which includes dishes not found on the regular menu. For example, this gorgeous salmon tartare, topped with crispy rice-cracker pearls and drops of yuzu-blended crème fraiche, is available only on the tasting menu. Ditto for medium rare slices of duck breast, dusted with powdered scallion and served with side dishes of kimchee and rice.
On the a la carte menu are beef tartare, blended with Asian pear and cucumbers, and topped with a custardy deviled egg yolk; and pressed duck, a boneless brick of confit leg meat with marinated orange segments and kabocha puree. The pressed duck looks very solid, but it actually falls apart as soon as you poke it.
Other excellent a la carte dishes include stir-fried broccoli, tossed with Fuji apple, roasted cashews, chile oil and smoked mayo; and a terrific piece of cod, with mussels and bacon and a topping of trout roe.
For dessert, look for the chocolate cake, actually a combination of cake and marshmallow coated with chocolate and dusted with powdered matcha, along with a smear of chocolate cremeaux and roasted-barley-tea ice cream. It’s terrific.
I give Jeong, 1460 West Chicago Avenue, three stars. This is one of the best new restaurants in Chicago, and I hope it sticks around for a long, long time.