In contrast to the milky opacity of the veal and pork broths is the translucent, sparkling-gold chicken broth in a ramyun called the Fish Coop. The fish in question is bonito, flakes of which bring a mild background of seafood to the intense chicken flavor. Even with slices of jalapeño and a floating green rim of herb oil tasting of chives and dill, the broth is subtle enough that you can really taste the juicy shreds of chicken confit.
Each of the three soups is so carefully considered, so well harmonized, that Jeju’s menu really could end there. But Mr. Kim makes a handful of Korean-inspired appetizers, too, all more nuanced than what you’d find in a typical ramen-ya.
I love the cucumber kimchi, skinny little numbers whose soft tartness is almost bubbly and very slightly minty. Is there shiso in the brine? There’s certainly plum in the sweet dressing dotted with black and white sesame seeds.
Mr. Kim’s soon du bu doesn’t have the gloom-killing uppercut of more traditional recipes — it’s a little too dainty and mild — but its tomato-shellfish broth supporting the usual soft tofu and some unorthodox but welcome green olives is very good on its own terms.
One of three raw-fish appetizers is tuna yuk hwe in a pallid, forgettable dressing. But the amberjack salad with chimichurri and brown-butter vinaigrette is very delicious, as is the hwe dup bap — sashimi and trout roe over warm rice made extra-fishy by tiny black dots of flyingfish roe.
There are a few other small dishes, including a likable steamed bun filled with pork belly and corn kernels. It will be interesting to see whether Mr. Kim elaborates this portion of the menu a bit, perhaps adding some larger plates. At the moment, it would be hard to make a complete meal at Jeju without ramyun, which may keep away people who don’t eat meat.
Like some other young chefs, Mr. Kim has brought his cooks into the tip pool by asking them to double as waiters. It may help him recruit talent for his kitchen, but it may also be a reason the service is muddled. I’ve been served food meant for another table; I’ve been asked the same question by two people within the space of a minute; I’ve been given empty plates I didn’t need, and had to stop somebody from clearing dishes I hadn’t finished.
The confusion even extended to the greeting at the door. One night when I got there before my guests, a host asked how far away everybody else was. I said…