NYC
Posted November 23, 2022

Naro is a new Korean restaurant that opened right next to the Rockafeller ice skating rink. According to the menu, the Naro name was inspired by South Korea’s first ever space vehicle to successfully achieve Earth’s orbit and also from the Korean phrase nah-ro (which means “through me”). Naro focuses on Korean cuisine, drawing inspiration from classic dishes from different moments in Korean history. Lastly, this is the third restaurant from the Atomix and Attaboy founders, so there is definitely some expectations. We actually were able to book a reservation on a Wednesday evening for 5:30 PM without much issue.

Ambiance

The restaurant is in an odd space inside of Rockafeller center. Rockafeller is basically an indoor mall with some shopping and dining options that isn’t particular crowded until you are close to the Rockafeller elevator line to the top. To arrive at this restaurant, simply walk down the stairs that lead to the ice skating rink and turn left. You should see some transparent doors that lead into the mall as well as the Naro sign. You should immediately see the Naro entrance where there are hosts waiting behind transparent glass doors.

The restaurant itself does have some of that space vibe with a lot of clean white curved textures and low ceiling sensations. Be warned that depending where you are seated in the dining room, it can get a little noisy. We had one party of 4 next to us that just simply had some super loud diners. There is some ambient music playing, but it’s not noticeable once the restaurant has a decent amount of patrons. The sound doesn’t insulate very well, but thankfully it was not unbearable for a conversation with my partner.

The plating and serving of all the courses were just simply impeccable. The wait staff made excellent cocktail recommendations, and we never really felt rushed at all during the meal.

The meal without drinks was $195 and lasted approximately 2 hours.

Food

The Haji ($19 - left) came with Hwanggeum Bori 17, Strawberry, Peychaud’s, and Gochugaru. My partner really liked their drink. I gave it a try, and it was ultra smooth and not too fruity. Hwanggeum Bori is basically a type of soju.

The Ibchu Shrub ($14 - right) came with Grape Shrub, Seedlip Grove, Korean Pepper, Prickly Ash, and Yuzu. I’m a big fan of non-alcoholic drinks, and this one was really delicious and highly recommended. It had some very forward yuzu notes, but had some complexities that I couldn’t describe. Overall, it felt very refreshing.

The first course was a set of small tastes. From left to right:

  1. Bugak - came with Gosari and Dubu (tofu). Gosari is basically edible fern. This was pretty good.
  2. Pyeonyuk - came with Beef Shank, Tomato, and Golden Kaluga Caviar. This resembled refrigerated beef shank soup where the fat congeals a little, and you can slice it like a pate. The caviar added nice saltiness to it.
  3. Mu - came with Flaxseed Bugak, Doenjang, and Fennel Bud Jangajji. This was like eating seaweed chips with some soybean paste flavors.

The Octopus Naengchae came with Kohirabi, Korean Mustard, and Dongchimi Granita. This was basically a medley of octopus, thinly sliced turnip, and some kimchi flavors in it. The mustard was very pronounced, but it added a nice kick. The first thought I had when eating this was a vinegary wasabi liquid that this was all sitting in. The octopus was very nice and bouncy as well. I definitely had some sensations that I was eating sashimi with soy sauce and wasabi. I definitely equate this to eating a Korean ceviche.

The Twigim came with Fluke, Songi Mushroom, and Choganjang. The outside has some sort of shrimp/fish cake-like batter, and in the middle was tender soft fluke meat. The Choganjang sauce was interesting in that it was a little gelatinous with starchy consistency and had a sharp soy sauce / vinegar flavor to it. The mushroom flavor was fairly light, and it didn’t bother me much. I really liked the meat and the sauce together.

The Abalone Mandu came with Shrimp, Aehobak, and Beef Broth. This was basically a long shrimp cake roll with abalone and topped with Korean zucchini slices. It was quite similar to one of the courses we had at Atomix. The broth was very light, but had noticeable flavors. The first thought I had drinking this broth was it reminded me of home cooked Korean soups. To people that prefer saltier foods, this will come a bit bland to their palette. However for those that have a knack for tasting ingredients without excessive salt, I think people will appreciate this.

The Baekro Tea ($14) came with Cola Tea, Grenadine, Radish, Orange, and Club Soda. This was another non-alcoholic drink, and it was also pretty good albeit very different than the Ibchu Shrub. This one had more leafy tea, earthy notes to it, so it was just slightly more bitter with some bubbles in it.

They brought a demonstration of the next course. It’s basically all the ingredients that they are going to use for the next dish.

The King Crab Bibimbap came with Namul Rice, Gang Doenjang, and Pickled Bamboo. The King Crab meat was so tender and soft. It was cooked delicately and had a lot of sweetness and flavors out of it. The rice was very similar to seaweed rice, which was absolutely delicious. In all, this reminded me a lot of the Atomix bar rice course.

The Lamb Saddle came with Sunchokes, Perilla Leaf, and Kimchi Jjim. The lamb was absolutely delicious. It did not have much gamey flavors, and it was extremely tender and soft. The brown-orange sauce is a kimchi sauce reduction that is phenomenal. You get that bright, acidic, fermented, well known kimchi taste that is perfectly complementary to the lamb. Lastly, the right side is some kimchi that has gone through a very in depth fermentation process. It has that sour pickling sensation that is spectacular if you enjoy kimchi. This is by far one of my favorite plates that I have had in recent times.

The Pear Pavlova came with Blood Orange Coulis, Omija Punch, and Pear Hibiscus Sorbet. The hibiscus sorbet was absolutely delightful. This course is basically your palette cleanser because you will get a lot of bright, acidic notes that will reset your palette for the final dessert dish. The white cone is basically a dome-like meringue casing that houses some tiny pear square cuts. It is probably more citrus sour than sweet.

The Strawberry came with Creme Au Fraise, Green Apple Gelee, and Strawberry Ice Cream. Can you tell which strawberry(-ies) is real or fake? This is very playful dessert that is absolutely delicious. The strawberry fruit is super sweet just like the ones you would buy at the farmers market. The other fake strawberry(-ies) had a soft, jelly type of consistency. When you bite into it, they had a lot of cream texture sensations. And lastly, the strawberry ice cream was just simply superb. For me, it was the right amount of sweetness and tart, so that I didn’t feel like it was overpowering dessert sensations.

The Petit Fours came with (starting top right, going clockwise):

  1. Jelly - This was basically a jelly gummy. I don’t remember the fruit flavor, but it was good.
  2. Rice Popcorn - I don’t remember this too clearly other than it was similar to lightly, sweetened, crispy rice clusters. The brown dirt is basically unsweetened cacao nibs that I learned later you weren’t supposed to eat. Oops!
  3. Cake - this cake is basically similar to the light brown crumbs served with the strawberry. It was very soft with a warm, dense, bread-like consistency.

Final Verdict

I was pleasantly surprised by this restaurant’s courses and flavors. Compared to their other higher end restaurant Atomix and Atomix Bar, I would have to rank this restaurant in the middle. Atomix Bar was simply fantastic, but Naro is a very accessible version of Atomix restaurant. If you are around the Rockafeller or Midtown area, definitely check out this restaurant if you want some pretty good Korean tastings. I would not be surprised if this ends up getting either a Michelin Bib Gourmand or 1 star next year.

Yelp Jabs

we noted our pescatarian status but once seated in the restaurant we had to negotiate with 3 different people in an effort to swap out one “main” meat course. Evidently, staff really wanted us to opt for the vegetarian menu for the same price of $195 per person. This process took a good 15 mins. And when the substitute for that “main” came, it was a bowl of butternut squash

On Resy (and maybe this is due to this Yelper), the reservation description specifically says that pescatarian diets have to go through the vegetarian tasting menu. The funny thing about substituting the main is I am wondering if there are other courses made with some meat, yet the pescatarian didn’t noticed it. A lot of the sauces could have some meat bone broth in it.

Revisions

  1. Nov 23, 2022 - Initial revision.