Brooklyn, New York 11211
Our Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Cards: All major
Price: $3 to $12.50
Hours: Tue-Sat: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Booze: Beer & Wine Only
Subway: J/M Train to Marcy Ave., L to Bedford
NY Times says:
At Dotory, which opened in December, Ms. Kim’s best dishes are the ones truest to her heritage. Pa jun, a thick pancake of rice and tapioca flours, has the requisite crackly borders and a gold mesh on top, with green scallions and chives peeking through. Ask to add seafood, and little bombshells of sweet shrimp come embedded in its gooey insides. It is a dish to soothe a drunk. Of equal splendor is kimchi fried rice mobbed by gochujang-marinated pork and topped with a rakish sunny-side-up egg, the yolk already leaking.
Nothing else on the menu is quite so brazen; Ms. Kim tends to favor subtlety over muscle. She makes kimchi without fish sauce, and deepens the flavor by adding apple and pear. It’s fermented for only a week and is more merciful — that is, less screamingly hot — than other versions in town, but it has a gratifyingly bitter undertone. Myulchi bokkeum is stealthier, a quick fry of dried anchovies, chewy cashews and garlic chips, with pulse points of sugar, lime and Thai bird chile.
Nori is coated with rice porridge and fried swiftly into the shape of up-curved tacolike shells. In Korea, this is a traditional snack, called bugak; here, it becomes a vessel for a julienne of watercress, carrots and radishes, with a wet crumble of creamy tofu and a restorative vinaigrette made from kimchi juice. This is delicious but tricky to eat, as the nori shatters on first bite and everything tumbles out.
Bibimbap, presented still sizzling in a stone pot, is a disappointment at first, restrained and pristine where I wanted messy and headstrong. It is well furnished with vegetables, but the usual sushi rice is mixed with black jasmine rice, red quinoa and millet and doesn’t quite attain the essential scorched crust at the bottom. It is better with kimchi, and better yet with cheese. Do not say sacrilege: Ms. Kim first encountered the unlikely juxtaposition at a fast-food joint in South Korea, then devised an elevated version with béchamel and a meld of Asiago, mozzarella and Parmesan. It’s O.K. to like it.
The rest of the menu is a bit of a shrug: pork-belly buns, unremarkable in the city’s overcrowded field; banh-mi-like sandwiches that could use stronger pickles; buckwheat soba in a reticent dashi broth; Vietnamese-inspired vermicelli, cold and sweet with pineapple-spiked fish sauce, best appreciated as a palate cleanser between other dishes; japche, translucent sweet-potato noodles that arrive snapping on a skillet, nicely salty and chewy but a supporting act only.
RECOMMENDED Pa jun with seafood; kimchi fried rice with egg and spicy pork; myulchi bokkeum; kimchi bibimbap with bulgogi; cucumber and dill-infused soju.
Chef Haegeen Kim serves playful versions of traditional Korean dishes. The menu has sandwiches, bibim bop, pancakes, noodles, and snacks. In her Hungry City review, Ligaya Mishan praises the taco-like crispy nori with vegetables and creamy tofu.