Welcome to Hortus NYC, a Michelin-recognized restaurant that specializes in modern Asian cuisine. Last fall, the restaurant appointed Executive Chef Youjin Jung, known for her work at Del Posto, Osteria Mozza, DB Bistro & Oyster Bar and Boulud Sud. Jung was recruited to helm the Hortus kitchen by General Manager Suhum Jang, her lifelong friend and schoolmate at the Culinary Institute of America. At Hortus NYC, Jang and Jung aim to create a (safe) dining experience that surprises and excites guests’ palates, providing different tastes and flavor profiles from Korea and beyond.
Hortus is the Latin word for garden, and this aesthetic runs through the entire restaurant. The upstairs dining space features hunter green walls, silver-blue velvet chairs and comfy round banquets. Apart from the main dining room, the second floor showcases a hidden garden oasis, complete with propane heat lamps and lights hanging above for a warm and intimate glow in the evening.
Chef Jung sharpened her skills under Mark Ladner and Melissa Rodriguez at the four-star New York Times-reviewed Del Posto. However, it was working in Singapore, she said, that really groomed her for the culinary journey ahead, as it required extreme precision and focus — an experience she equates to being in a boxing ring. At Hortus, she flexes her creativity, placing even more emphasis on some of the staple Korean ingredients, all plated in a modern and approachable style.
As far as the menu, the Hortus Royal Platter features an array of tasty selections from the sea, including a whole lobster tail and shrimp, which are prepared in a court bouillon with white wine, lemon, garlic and carrot. There is also tuna tataki and oysters with a plum vinaigrette and ikura, all served with a clarified butter and crushed pink pepper corn mixture and cocktail sauce.
For entrées, the chef recommends the duck, which makes its first appearance on the menu since the restaurant’s inception with an ode to the duck l’orange recipe. The dish represents Korean slow cooking with glaze made of mu (daikon). Pan-seared duck is brushed with mu glaze and served with spicy braised mu, Korean radish — which adds some mild sweetness to the dish — dressed with sliced candied kumquats and pickled crones and charred scallions with a foie gras sauce. The spicy braised short rib is another popular dish served with Chinese pearl barley risotto and Asian pear gremolata, which is presented in the style of a small salad with Asian pear, parsley and watermelon radishes toasted with a lemon vinaigrette. Still available is a Hortus favorite, the truffle donabe, which is black truffle, wild mushrooms and cured egg yolk that can be complemented with hanger steak or wagyu. Hortus’ two-course prix fixe is still offered, which includes a choice of an appetizer and an entrée.
For dessert, Hortus has matcha tiramisu accompanied by vanilla ice cream, as well as Hortus’ popular monaka ice cream, available in black sesame, green tea or vanilla.
Lunch at Hortus provides guests with a two-course lunch prix fixe with a choice of appetizer and entrée and an optional wine pairing. Lunch sets are also available for takeout and delivery, served with hot or cold soup, tempura or the daily salad and side dishes with a choice of proteins, including grilled salmon, chicken katsu, galbi meat ball and grilled hanger steak.
The wine selection is based on low ABV beverages, including fine sparkling wines and champagne, red and white wines from France, Italy, New Zealand and the U.S., Japanese craft beer, Korean bottled beer, Junmai ginjo and Junmai sake by the glass. Spotlight soju cocktails include peach mule with jinro, peach and tonic and black plum with soju, makgeolli and burnt orange.
Hortus NYC is located at 271 Fifth Avenue in New York City. Open for dinner Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 5:30 p.m to 10:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Lunch is available Wednesday through Sunday 11:30 a.m. through 3:30 p.m. Call (646) 858-3784 or visit hortusnyc.com