This year’s Michelin star winners were announced today and we’re happy to report that Hell’s Kitchen is now home to a new Michelin-rated eatery. Contemporary Korean restaurant Kochi at 652 10th Avenue (corner of W46th Street) is one of only seven new restaurants to earn their first star on this year’s roster. Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare at W37th Street (between 10/11th Avenue) held on to its three stars, in a category that hasn’t had any newcomers since 2012. 

Courtesy of Kochi NYC.
Courtesy of Kochi NYC.

Helmed by Chefs Sungchul Shim and Byeong Seok Lee, Kochi opened in September 2019 with a tasting menu inspired by the royal fare of Korea’s Joseon Dynasty. Shim had previously worked at Le Bernardin and Per Se (both of which hold three Michelin stars) and the two chefs met while working at Japanese eatery Neta (since closed). Together they combine the French and Japanese techniques they’ve picked up over the years to create Kochi’s contemporary take on Korean cuisine. 

Kochi means “skewer” in Korean and most of the dishes — which rotate seasonally — are served on this namesake. Here’s what the Michelin inspector had to say: “With expertly grilled skewers, Korean ingredients and bold, exciting compositions, Chef Shim and his team craft a truly special experience where technique and personality go hand in hand.”

“I am incredibly honored to be given a Michelin star today,” Shim wrote in an Instagram post. “I started cooking back in 1999 and came to New York to experience everything related to the restaurant industry in the Big Apple. Kochi opened towards the end of 2019 and after a couple of months of operation, we experienced this historically difficult period of time and through the pandemic our team came together and made it.”

If it’s good enough for Detective Stabler… Actor Chris Meloni celebrated his birthday at Kochi last month. Courtesy of Kochi NYC.

This is not the first Hell’s Kitchen based Korean restaurant to achieve Michelin success. Back in 2011, Danji (W52nd Street between 8/9th Avenue) became the first Korean restaurant in the country to be awarded a Michelin star. 

Despite being closed throughout the pandemic, Eleven Madison Park retained its three Michelin stars and is set to make a comeback next month with a meat free menu.

If you’re seeking more affordable options, check out the selection of Bib Gourmands that was unveiled earlier this week. Local haunts on the list include Norma, Don Antonio by Starita, and Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen.

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