Junghyun and Ellia Park Open Atomix in NYC
Husband-and-wife team Junghyun and Ellia Park, in partnership with Hand Hospitality, opened Atomix at 104 East 30th Street in New York City’s NoMad neighborhood. Atomix, the sister-restaurant to the couple’s debut project Atoboy (opened July 2016), is a Korean fine-dining restaurant that offers two unique experiences: the first floor features an intimate bar and lounge where guests may enjoy cocktails and snacks, while the lower level dining room serves a $175-plus per person, multi-course tasting menu for dinner.
Helmed by chef Junghyun ‘JP’ Park, Atomix serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday with seatings at 6:00pm and 9:00pm. Once situated at the 16-seat wrap-around chef’s counter, guests will be able to watch as Park prepares a 10-course tasting menu that showcases his range in skill and technique and delivers a multi-dimensional perspective on Korean cuisine. The meal is architected to begin with two snacks (served in the downstairs lounge area), followed by eight savory courses and two desserts - with some courses including seasonal rice and banchan pairings. Park makes several accoutrements like sesame oil, perilla oil, and pine nut oil in-house, while other ingredients like ganjang (soy sauce), doenjang (soybean paste), and some kimchi and jangajji (fermented and non-fermented pickled vegetables) are sourced from trusted purveyors in Korea that Park visited first-hand in preparation of opening. Before each dish is served, guests will receive a card that carries written messages about the menu item, its cultural roots, or its relevance to Atomix’s vision. Guests will collect these cards one-by-one to create their own menu booklet and will be gifted with this upon their departure as a tangible and educational takeaway.
To complement the fare, guests may opt for a $135 per person mixed beverage pairing led by Head Sommelier Jhonel Faelnar (formerly of The NoMad) - or choose from the restaurant’s wine list, which features a thoughtful and concise selection of both classic and eclectic producers, with a nod to the great white wines of the world, rounded out by a short list of balanced red and sparkling wines.
The bar at Atomix features an assortment of original cocktails from veteran bartenders Jesse Vida (BlackTail) and Samantha Casuga (Dead Rabbit), who worked alongside the team to develop libations that showcase a blend of classic and new styles with Korean flavor influences. Examples include the Dangun with Macchu Pisco, rich sesame leaf syrup, lemon, and egg; the Samioko with Cabrito Blanco tequila, Fidencio mezcal, grapefruit, lemon, and honey; and the Heaven's Son with Redemption rye, Tokki soju, Cocchi Torrino, and Pierre Ferrand dry curacao. The diverse spirit selection has a slight whiskey focus, but includes gin, tequila, rum, Soju, and everything in between. Guests may also enjoy a la carte snacks from Park, including Bugak (Deep-Fried Gim, Perilla, Potato); Ganjang-Caramel Nuts; Fried Baby Squid with egg yolk sauce; and Radish with furikake and doenjang, among others.
The 1,800 square foot, bi-level restaurant was designed in collaboration with Younglae Kim, the design director of Korea-based firm Studio Writers. Atomix marks the firm’s first project in the United States. The Parks worked with Kim to create a space that felt contemporary and sophisticated by incorporating various textures, muted tones, and raw materials. The first level bar features in-house designed banquettes that sit opposite a sunken five-seat black granite topped bar. A staircase leads to the lower level dining room, which is illuminated by sky lights and statement lamps from Apparatus. Here, guests will be welcomed into the pre-dinner lounge area which features comfortable modular sofas from designer Karim Rashid and drift bench seating from designer Amanda Levete. The black granite topped chef’s counter, lit by industrial track lighting from Flos, anchors the space and provides a stark juxtaposition to the softer grey tones found throughout the restaurant. Like Atoboy, Atomix creates warmth though bare but beautiful design.
Atomix also celebrates Korean culture through the lens of artistry and craftsmanship. Junghyun and Ellia sought out partnerships with prominent Korean ceramic companies such as Sikijang and Choeunsook, as well as Korean ceramists like Sui Park, Namhee Kim, and Youme Oh to curate the assortment of plateware used in the restaurant. Guests are able to choose their own chopsticks to use for the duration of their meal from a special customized case by Mono Collection. Each set of chopsticks feature unique designs from Korean artists like Kyungmin Yu (JeoJib) and Guirae Park and are part of a collection that the Parks have been building upon for years. Staff uniforms, which echo the restaurant’s sleek and minimalist aesthetic, were made by friend and NYC-based fashion designer Sungho Ahn (who also designed the aprons at Atoboy).
Park has been recognized and celebrated for modernizing traditional Korean fare. Prior to coming stateside and opening Atoboy (which was named one of 2017’s top restaurants by the New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells), JP worked in many of the world’s best restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Cutler & Co. (Melbourne), The Ledbury (London), Jungsik dang (Seoul), and Jungsik restaurant in New York City. The pair hopes Atomix will offer a unique dining experience beyond what most people know and understand about Korean cuisine in New York City and that it will bring more awareness to the many facets of Korean culture.