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Hell’s Kitchen’s much-lauded Korean cuisine and Chef Sungchul Shim have earned another Michelin star, with neighborhood newcomer Mari joining its 10th Avenue stablemate Kochi in the culinary firmament.
Mari (679 9th Ave – between W46/47th St) and Kochi (652 10th Ave – corner of W46th St) were given their Michelin stars last night at a glittering ceremony held at The Peak in Hudson Yards, co-hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka.
It is a huge boost for a restaurant that opened its doors less than a year ago. Mari offers a rotating menu with a manifold palette of flavors carefully arranged in a balance of savory umami and delicate sweetness — from the convergence of sweet shrimp and charred scallion chili oil in the sundubu, to the snow crab, mackerel, and wagyu hand rolls (an homage to the word mari, which translates to roll), to the 36-hour guksu — a long-simmered chicken, beef, and pork broth poured over slow-cooked pork belly and wheat noodles. Shim buttons the tasting experience with his own version of Korea’s popular Choco Pies — appearing here in the form of a chocolate sponge cake filled with black sesame marshmallow and strawberry jam.
Mari’s cheery, intimate dining space is centered around a long, marble-slab chef’s counter and upholstered high stools, backlit by brass trimmed-blue tiles and all designed by Youngmi Ham, who also created the interior at Kochi. Shim was enthusiastic to build both restaurants close together in Hell’s Kitchen, telling Eater, “I love Hell’s Kitchen because there is high energy in the neighborhood (….)There is an eclectic mix of people, food, and culture that I wanted to stay a part of.”
Michelin’s opinion of Chef Shim’s newest restaurant? “Mari, which means “roll” in Korean, is Hell’s Kitchen’s latest destination from the talented Sungchul Shim, who made a name for himself at his tasting counter (Kochi) just down the street. Those familiar with casual Japanese handroll counters are in for a surprise as Chef Shim reimagines the genre as a tasting menu, primed with top-notch ingredients and Korean flavors,” they commented.
“Glistening planks of Ora King salmon; tender strips of cured mackerel; and melting slabs of pork belly marinated with ssamjang are placed on beds of rice cradled in seaweed. Chefs work swiftly, moving from one roll to the next with nowhere to hide in this kitchen, flanked by counter seats on all sides. A bowl of warm bone broth with pork belly and noodles closes out the generous progression.” Congratulations!