Jeong salmon tartare
Salmon tartare Photo: Jeff Marini

When chef Dave Park opened Jeong in April 2019, it was an instant hit: polished, assured, delicious. But over the course of its first year, the restaurant has become even more exciting, unpredictable, nervier. Take the tteokbokki, a fine-dining twist on a lowbrow dish, with schmaltz softening the gochujang-slicked rice cakes and mustard seeds adding a textural edge. Park excels at reimagining popular Korean dishes and turning down the volume just enough to layer in flavors. He spent years trying to re-create the aroma of the roasted goguma (sweet potato) sold by street vendors in Seoul before creating his sweet-savory goguma pudding with sunflower granola, sponge candy, and bourbon-barrel-aged soy sauce.

Despite such obsessiveness, nothing at Jeong — whether à la carte or from the almost preposterously affordable seven-course prix fixe menu ($87) — feels the slightest bit fussy. Consider the decor: Park and Jennifer Tran, his partner and fiancée, used wood trim and fabric to imitate the ceilings of a traditional Korean village home. The result is neither twee nor overwrought, but rather, like everything here, feels both totally novel and deeply comforting.

Update:Jeong is offering a “throwback” menu evoking its cooking at Hanbun, with more casual dishes that travel well, like the cult-favorite rice cake dish chef Dave Park offered at that Westmont food stall. The menu is available in Chicago and Westmont on alternating weeks, with carryout and delivery available in both locations.