Wandering through the streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, you never know when you might stumble upon a hidden gem – restaurants and bars are packed in on top of each other. 8282 definitely classifies as one of these gems, and we stepped in on Thursday to try some of their anju and banju, small and larger shared plates of mouth watering Korean-inspired food.
8282’s interior evokes an unassuming, casual lunch-bar type setting, so you may not be prepared for the explosion of flavor coming your way when you first step in. We were seated at one of the booth-and-chair seats on the side of the restaurant, and placed our cocktail orders first.
I ordered the Yuzu Matcha Magic and my dining partner ordered the Gochujang Margarita. Both were incredible. I loved mine because of the bright citrus flavors, currently in a serious yuzu obsession phase. The matcha was almost imperceptible until the end of the drink, where the powder settled, and it was the perfect refreshing cut to the flavorful, creamy dishes that were soon to follow. The margarita was also delicious, a Korean twist on the classic spicy marg with the gochujang.
First up, our anju. Based on the server’s recommendations, we tried the Tuna Tartare and the Littleneck Soojebi. The bluefin tuna was mild and fresh, served with sesame seaweed chips to add some crunch and serve as a cracker. The soojebi was a soup of clams served in the most delicious broth, which I wanted to just pick up and drink straight from the bowl, and potato noodles to make the dish a little more substantial. These were the perfect start to our meal and definitely got us excited about the entrees to follow.
Our first banju was Jjajang Bori-Bap, a plate of truffle-infused black bean sauce and barley topped with seared scallops. Each bite of this dish was like an explosion of truffle flavor; any truffle lover would die over this shared plate, so if that sounds like you, get yourself to 8282 immediately. The next banju we tried was the Dakgalbi Kimchi-Bap, which is cheesy kimchi rice with gochujang-marinated chicken. It arrived sizzling in a hot cast-iron pan, and we had to mix up the rice to get the cheesy, gooeyness incorporated before taking our first bites. From the melted cheese and cushiony rice at the top to the crispy pan-charred bottom pieces, this dish impressed all the way through. Finally, our last item of the evening was their Injeolmi Ice Cream, which is vanilla ice cream layered on top of a korean multi-grain paste and topped with honey and parmesan cheese shavings. An interesting mix of sweet and savory, this ice cream felt like having both a sweet after-dinner treat and a bit like eating some pasta with the heavy parmesan topping, but somehow the flavors blended together well.
We loved our meal at 8282 and can’t wait to come back and try their other menu items! I’ve got my eye on the Spring Pea Crudo and the Lobster Bibim Somyun.