Benu is an oasis in the heart of the city. The mandatory stroll through the courtyard not only sets the mood, but also offers insight into the meal to come. Peruse the onggi pots with fermenting ingredients you'll later find on your plate and glimpse the kitchen hard at work. The interior is awash with earthy hues and sleek banquettes, and the serene dining room with clean lines draws the eye across its meticulous design. Service is impressively warm and relaxed.
Patience seems to define this kitchen in its relentless pursuit of excellence, whether that may be perfecting technique or waiting for just the right moment to serve an ingredient at its peak. Meals begin with a series of highly technical small bites. While these delicacies alone may rival some of the country's most ambitious tasting menus, there's more. Faux-shark's fin and xiao long bao are a delightful classic, but Chef Corey Lee continues to reimagine and redefine his nightly offerings. Dishes like barbecued quail with house-made XO sauce and an elevated take on traditional Korean beef barbecue convey a distinct personality and reflect a singular marriage between contemporary Asian influences.