NYC
Updated October 15, 2022, Posted September 22, 2022

This is either a blessing or a curse of the reservation system Tock. When the time comes to make reservations for super hot restaurants, you literally have less than 2 seconds to grab a reservation spot when they become available. I mistakenly grabbed a bar reservation thinking it was the Chef’s Counter, and I was mildly disappointed. However, I refreshed the reservation system about 10 minutes later, and I noticed there were an opening for counter seating the following week. I quickly made the reservation, and then ultimately decided to keep both the bar tasting and the Chef’s counter tasting reservations. This post will be for the Atomix Chef’s Counter menu. To read about the Atomix Bar tasting experience, please click here.

The counter experience can be best described as more Korean centric and less experimentation compared to the bar. The menu changes seasonally, whereas the bar menu changes as frequently as every few weeks.

Atomix at the time of this post has 2 Michelin Stars and is the only U.S. restaurant in the top 50 on the Worlds 50 Best 2022 Restaurants list. It is currently ranked 33.

Ambiance

I won’t described much of the top floor ambiance walking in, since that was mostly taken care of with the bar review.

For the counter tasting, the host leads you to the far end of the floor where it leads you into a spacious area with comfy seats. The spacious area has natural light that comes in, and has a very chill vibe to it. As you walk down the stairs, you can see the signature U-shaped counter top with plenty of space between dining parties. When you’re seated, they give you little stands next to your seat to hold your bags.

The service of course was on point. The staff was impeccable in timing. For each of the courses, they provide a card (9 total). Each of these cards has an Instagram AR design on one side and a verbose blob of text on the other. The text describes the chef’s story and most of the ingredients involved in making the dish. What was nice about this experience, unlike other fine dining restaurants that give you the menu details at the end, is you can look at the card while you eat to see what you’re eating. At the end of the dinner, they do provide a box to store the cards.

The total cost of the meal was $818.81 for 2 people including gratuity and tax. It is $375 per person before these fees, which is an extra $105 more than the bar experience.

The total time for the tasting was about 2.5 hours.

Food

The Maesil, I Suppose (+$22 - left) came with The Plum I Suppose, Won Mae, Abricot du Roussillon, and Preserved Meyer Lemon. There were strong notes of plum in this cocktail, and it was very smooth. It had a perfect balance of sweetness and citrus in it.

The Scotch Bok (+$22 - right) came with Suntory Toki, Bunnahabhain Islay Scotch, Luxardo Maraschino, Citrus, and Honey. I thought this would be one of those slow sipper drinks, but it was incredibly smooth. The scotch had a slight smokiness to it. The drink as a whole had a well balanced sweet, sour, and smoke flavor complex.

This starter course (1 of 2) came with Filefish and Nuruk Cookie. This reminded us much of sardines, and it was pretty good. The texture was basically a little squishy since it was raw. The fish flavors are very direct and slightly fishy in a good way.

This last starter course (2 of 2) came with Pen shell clam, Tapioca, and Black Truffle. The black truffle flavors are very subtle as if they are nearly non-existent. The shell had a nice crispiness to it, and the clam is really good.

The host then presents you a selection of chopsticks before the actual courses begin. Each chopstick had a different design such as pearl shell overlays or various curvatures.

The first course was Amberjack, Minari, Cherry Bloom Honey, and Kristal Caviar. The recommendation was to mix everything together. I tried the caviar alone, and it was delightful. Underneath this spoon of caviar, there are little pieces of chopped up amberjack. The flavors of the surrounding broth has some very nice relaxing sensations. The caviar provides additional sweetness and saltiness to it. It was very refreshing.

The second course came with King Crab, Mustard, Buchu, and Dashima. The little black strips, which reminded me of seaweed, sat on top of a circular ice wafer. Below, the yellow puck was basically a medley of squash, king crab meat, and plenty of complex flavors. The sauce itself had strawberry gochujang, strawberry vinegar, orange, lemon, and jungjang. You can imagine that the sauce has a mixture of citrus and vinegar flavors. The squash and king crab meat makes the little orange puck have some sweetness to it. The sauce was very refreshing and gives you that zing to wake you up. There were many flavor profiles, and it’s difficult to articulate together. In the end, I really enjoyed this.

The third course came with Sea Urchin, Beetroot, Gim Rice, and Cabbage. The sea urchin came from Hokkaido, Japan, so you can imagine that being very creamy. The little beetroots were crispy and tasted dehydrated. The earthiness flavor was actually not there, so my partner surprisingly enjoyed it since they typically despise beets. Underneath the rice crisps, beetroot flakes, and sea urchin, was rice that was mixed with seaweed and sesame oil. This rice mixture was delectable, similarly to what we had at the bar the previous week. There were some small pieces of cabbage which had some subtle pickling flavors to it.

The fourth course came with Red Seabream, Spinach Curry, and Foie Gras. The seabream was very tender and flaky. The skin was torched, and it surprisingly wasn’t crispy. The spinach curry was creamy and just full of complex flavors. If there was a dish with this curry that was sold separately, I would definitely order this! There were little pieces of foie gras chunks, okra, and lobster mushrooms. Surprisingly, all of these little pieces of stuff were quite complementary to the whole dish.

With the red seabream above came Aehobak, Shrimp, and Black Apple. The green slices on top of the shrimp was Korean zucchini (aehobak). The shrimp itself reminded me of shrimp paste and rolled into a stick. The sauce was tart and a little gelatinous with apple flavors. Everything tasted really good. The reason they served this shrimp separately was because it was kind of like the banchan (side dish) to the main protein in this course.

The fifth course came with Langoustine and Potato Sujebi. The little gnocchi things are the potato sujebis. The spicy red sauce was actually very intense at first, but it settled down with full of bright and spicy flavors. It had langoustine stock, heavy cream, sugar, and tons of gochugaru. The hosts said that the chef actually dialed the spiciness down before. It reminded me a little of that red sauce that is served with rice cakes as snacks in Korean restaurants. Lastly, the main star of this dish is this unbelievable fried seaweed wrapped langoustine. That’s a lot of words, but it was literally that delicious. The fried seaweed was super crispy and fluffy. The langoustine had that nice bouncy texture with lots of sweetness to it. Even though it was drenched with this sauce, everything tasted very good together.

The side that came with the langoustine was Daepa and King Oyster Mushroom on a stick. Even though I dislike mushrooms, this was very edible without all that super mushroom flavor. The mushroom was sliced super thin, rolled, and pierced on skewers with some seasoning.

The sixth course came with Blue Fish, Chungju, and Granny Smith Apple. The blue fish was very fresh and came in little chunks similar to the amberjack earlier. There was some mung bean sprouts, grape gel, and some granny smith apple. The delicious element to this dish was that chungju sauce, which had fish stock, Yangchon Chungju, crème fraîche, and fermented yuza. This all tasted well balanced full of flavors from that fish stock and fermented yuza. The banchan at the top right is Squid and Mustard kimchi. This was decent, but not as fermented or pickled as I would have preferred.

At this point in the tasting, my partner ordered the Iron Age cocktail (+$22) which came with Helix Vodka, Cointreau, Yuzu, Lime, and Soda. This was basically a well balanced alcoholic yuzu soda.

I ordered the United Ferments Snow Chrysanthemum kombucha (+$17). It was really crisp and refreshing. I was feeling a little lethargic at this point, but the drink helped wake me up for the next few courses.

The seventh course came with Wagyu, Sam Namul, Perilla, and Moo. The fried perilla leaf had a very nice crispy texture on top of the wagyu. The wagyu beneath was so buttery, melt-in-your-mouth tender. It was so good. There were little veggies that were beneath the wagyu. There was some mushrooms in it that were decent. The sauce that the protein sat in was a mixture of beef, scallion, garlic, ginger, mirin, corn starch, and honey essences. It was undescribably delectable. I would order this dish hands down for that sauce if it was available in a restaurant separately.

The banchan that came with this wagyu was Songyi Mushroom Juk. The broth was very light, and there were small thin pieces of mushrooms. Despite the mushrooms, the flavor was very light and refreshing. It definitely balances the richness of the wagyu parts.

Before the dessert course, we asked for Wild Pear tea (+$12) which does not have caffeine and is very light.

After the water steeps in the pot, this is what came out. The tea had very light pear flavors, and it helped reset my body from all the rich flavors so far.

The eighth course came with Jochung, Squash, and Dubu. This was similar to shaved ice and had some sugar puddings and squash purees. It reminded me of those Asian cafes with shaved ice and various sweet toppings that are different than the typical American dessert ingredients. It was good, refreshing, and not super sweet.

The ninth and final course came with Sunchoke, Birchwood, and Bee Pollen. This came with sunchoke ice cream, pine vinegar, bee pollen, and mushroom powder. This tasted very balanced, but a little forgettable for me because I’m not a huge fan of sunchoke. Regardless, it tasted good.

Just like the previous week’s celebration at Atomix Bar for our anniversary, they gave the same matcha chocolate macaron with a candle on it. The macaron was good, albeit, not blow your mind.

Final Verdict

The Atomix counter tasting menu is quite a unique experience in that it is not super pretentious like the French restaurants, and the flavors are a little more adventurous. Both the bar and the counter tasting experiences are very different and not comparable. With all the Michelin 2-star restaurants we’ve tried in NYC so far, this has been our favorite. Every dish in bar/counter tastings was quite delicious with a lot of attention to detail. The counter experience really highlights a lot of Korean and Japanese ingredients that are quite different than what I had at Jungsik.

I do want to say that if you decide to try the bar, you are not settling for anything. The menu is completely different, so Atomix really offers 2 very different tasting menus. The counter tasting is good too and much more elevated. You really can’t go wrong with either.

Yelp Jabs

I think much of the hype behind Atomix stems from the belief that most of the 2-star & 3-star restaurants in NYC feel extremely dated compared to what many 1-stars are doing… I’ve had my fair share of tasting menus and have had better experiences in terms of the proportion of courses I’ve enjoyed. Ultimately, I felt like I was left wanting more.

I’ve also had my fair share of tasting menus, and I can understand why Atomix received 2 stars. The techniques applied definitely separate it from the other 1-star restaurants. I think it’s a fallacy to expect that the more stars a restaurant has, the more satiated you will be. In my opinion, the Atomix bar experience is highly underrated. If you try that, I think that this Elitist would be pleasantly surprised.

Also (and this may only be a Covid thing), they only open their doors when the reservation starts, so don’t plan on coming early to grab a drink or post up - we had to wait outside until they let us in.

As of September 2022, they still do this. I think it’s to prevent distractions to their current diners. What you will find is the people that check you in will also end up being your servers as well. For the first seatings, they will open the door 15 minutes early. For the second seatings, they will open at the time of the reservation.

Revisions

  1. Oct 15, 2022 - Added chopsticks picture.
  2. Sep 22, 2022 - Initial revision.