We huff. We puff. We will not be late. We city-speed walk past bistros and bars, all somewhat empty because it is five-thirty on a Sunday evening, and finally spot 8282 in the Lower East Side. The inner door is a beast to open, but once we are past it, an aura of calm settles over us. Nothing beats the Sunday scaries quite like a lot of real candles, a hot meal (that you didn’t have to cook), and excellently clever company.
The Beverages at 8282
My companion orders the Yuzu Matcha Magic, with house-made matcha syrup, soju, lemon, and yuzu, all topped with salt. The result is aromatic and citrusy from the yuzu and lemon, grassy and slightly bitter from the matcha, and is complemented well by the tiny pops of salt to round out and enhance the other flavors. Refreshing and unexpected, my companion notes that the taste is, “incredibly clean, and very fun.”
I order a special off-menu twist courtesy of the bartender and alcoholic beverage menu curator, Kat. It involves yuzu, dry and sweet vermouth, and bourbon – yielding a sweet and spicy concoction pleasantly rosy in color, although somewhat spirit heavy in the aftertaste. Much warmer and fuller on the palate than the Yuzu Matcha Magic, the beverages nonetheless pair well together.
Although we do not try the Tea Party until much later (see the dessert section), this drink is a clear stand-out. Jasmine tea soju, corn tea syrup, and calpico combine to create flavors incredibly fragrant and floral, with a subtly sweet grassy aftertaste. It is once again extremely clean and stands up magnificently to the decadent and equally complex flavors of dessert without being overshadowed.
Anju – Small Plates
Our first anju arrives – tuna tartare with kim bukak (see featured image above). The bluefin tuna is fatty and sweet, the nori chips are exceedingly crackly and savory, and the bite is held together by the nutty fragrance of the sesame oil aioli.
The egg custard is subtle but adds to the yielding, creamy mouthfeel of the tartare. My eating companion and I both agree that the seaweed chips, liberally dusted with kimchi powder, should be sold in the multi-pound bag.
The littleneck soojebi is a masterpiece of flavor and aroma. Upon first sniff, there is a schmaltzy, buttery richness balanced by a generous tingle of black pepper and the briny saline smell of the clams. It tastes even better than it smells – sumptuous without feeling oily, satiating from the pumpkin and potato, and intensely umami. The clams are soft and not too chewy. The sweet potato noodles are chewy, delightfully so, and add an unexpected textural contrast.
The lovely waitstaff offers us a bowl of rice to eat with the leftover ocean of broth, and who are we to refuse such an offer? The rice is perfectly cooked – slightly sticky and absolutely the perfect sponge for the flavor-laden soup. We are hungry. We look at each other. We ask for another bowl of rice.
Banju – Shared Plates
The main courses start to arrive, beginning with their Jjajang bori-bap – delicately seared scallops over barley. I go for the barley first. It smells luscious; buttery and earthy from the truffles, slightly sweet from hoisin, and all with that undeniable funk that only fermented black beans can offer.
The barley is cooked well, al dente and chewy, and holds up to the heavy bombardment of flavor. The scallops are nicely seared and well seasoned, and their sweetness is amplified by the earthiness of the black beans and truffle.
L.A. Iberico pork galbi makes its way to the table. The Iberico pork is admittedly a dream. Grilled to smoky perfection, the outside lends a char and bitterness complementing the almost euphorically sweet middle. Marvelously tender, with no hint of gamey flavor, the pork is masterfully treated.
The roasted broccolini is crunchy and vegetal and lends freshness to the otherwise densely flavored plate. Served atop a generous spoonful of ssamjang, the deliciously funky and fermented soybean paste, everything it touches becomes spicy and incredibly potent – I use it sparingly for the pork; my companion happily schmears it on everything.
The final course is injeolmi ice cream. A spry take on the popular Korean snack, a chewy rice cake made from glutinous sweet rice, it delights and surprises from start to finish. Vanilla ice cream is the perfect base layer for this mystical dessert. Sturdy and not overbearing in fragrance, it allows the nuttiness of the multigrain and the pungent savoriness of the parmesan to shine.
The fresh shavings of cheese are the first and final notes, providing clarity and emphasis to the dessert’s sweeter counterparts. The Korean multigrain is nutty and rich, offering a deep roasted flavor echoing that of the aged parmesan and a butteriness similar to the crème anglaise ice cream. The honey complements every element and provides a subtle floral note.
Kat shares with us a pro tip: eat a spoonful of ice cream, then chase it with a sip of the Tea Party. The intensely perfumed jasmine tea soju is the perfect pair to this surprisingly savory dessert. My companion thinks I might, perhaps, be biased because of my almost obscene love for cheese. I thoroughly disagree. It is extravagant in the best way possible.
8282 is a cozy oasis tucked away in the Lower East Side. It is filled to the brim with unexpected pairings, beautifully mixed drinks, and hearty seasonal fare. The menu feels curated to offer suitable options for most palates without spreading itself too thin. An excellent find, and one recommended for folks intrigued by exemplary Asian fusion.
Three Best Bites
3. Dessert – the heady combination is strong, savory, and luxuriously flavored, but manages to stay on its toes thanks to the light touch of honey.
2. Tea Party – drink it alone or with the dessert, it is the perfect beverage to end the meal.
- Littleneck soojebi with rice, no exceptions – the unctuousness of the noodles, the briny clams, and the umami laden broth only get better when you add perfectly cooked white rice.
The bathroom is clean, moodily lit with real candles, and has all the essentials. Enough said.
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Katherine Chin was raised in upstate New York and grew up with the mindset that good food can, and does, exist anywhere. Now living and working around Manhattan, she spends most of her breakfasts pondering what she’ll eat for dinner. She advocates for food that tastes good, and believes that sharing is caring – the best food is often eaten together. You can find her either walking or eating anywhere in Manhattan, when she’s not planning her next food-centric adventure.