Ji-Hye Park : innovative Korean cuisine.

Innovative Korean cuisine.

Based rue Rodier in the 9th district of Paris, we met with Ji-Hye in her Korean restaurant: OMA. The warm and timbered ambience – open kitchen, wooden furniture, dim lights…- immediately invites to intimacy and friendliness. As a former interior designer, the Chef created a laid-back space where each dish is made with love, just like home : in deed, OMA means “mom” in Korean.

Date: 2 April 2020
City: Paris
Artisan: Ji-Hye Park
What convinced you to dedicate yourself fully to cooking?

Ji-Hye

As an interior designer, I find that cooking and designing have similar processes: I elaborate a menu as I would design a home. In in both fields, there is a phase of conception, preparation and realization. The difference is you get a instantaneous feedback when cooking whereas it can take up months before you get it in home design. What fulfills me in my work is that immediate response, that instant of pleasure when someone tries a dish for the first time. And I really appreciate the fact that cooking requires sincerity : when it’s not good – when there is a doubt on the products’ quality for instance – you can taste it right away !

What is the specificity of your cuisine?

Ji-Hye

Korean food is quite complex. It sometimes requires patience and a particular know-how. We work with fermented products, cooking times are very precise, we combine raw and cooked foods… That is why quality is essential in my cuisine.

How do you select your products?

Ji-Hye

Fruits and vegetables are mainly local and organic. I collaborate with a farmer who selects the products – gathered and delivered every two days. As for meat and fish, I am especially careful about their quality because I cook a lot of raw foods. I focus on freshness and recipes. I always favor quality over quantity.

I also enjoy cooking unknown and unusual ingredients, such as abalones – that I cook as sashimi for instance. I like having guests discover new flavors and new ways of cooking. Wine wise, a sommelier advises me every week and brings in new references.

What is the most popular dish on the menu?

Ji-Hye

I like innovating with my cooking and the menu changes everyday! That said, the dish that would represent the most my approach would be the “oma rice”, a dish I make with great love! “Oma” means “mom” in Korean. It’s rice with a meat stew – cooked during two hours – and seasoned with various spices and veggies. It is a typical Korean recipe, very tasty. People love it.

Who are your guests?

Ji-Hye

We have a lot of regulars but mainly we have food savvies that heard about us, and wish to discover our cuisine. It is a small restaurant and that allows me to talk to the customers and exchange with them in an honest and friendly way. I particularly enjoy that aspect of my work and that would not be possible if I had a bigger space.

“I enjoy cooking unknown and unusual ingredients […] and having guests discover new flavors and new ways of cooking.”

The restaurant industry is very time-consuming and requires a great personal involvement. What drives you every day?

Ji-Hye

The pleasure of hosting. Having people enter my culinary world. It really is my passion. Despite the fatigue, this job allows me to live from my passion : the guest’s satisfaction at the end of a meal is a very rewarding experience to me.

After 15 years as an interior designer, I finally can dedicate myself entirely to cooking: it makes me so very happy and it makes me forget about the tiredness!

How do you see your cuisine evolving?

Ji-Hye

I have yet to explore so many things! Gastronomy is constantly reinventing itself, it’s a very creative field… I love discovering new restaurants and new tastes. For example, I appreciate a lot Saturne’s cuisine.

I want to continue making Korean cuisine mixed with Occidental recipes and ingredients : it is an endless source of inspiration to me, I never get bored of it !

OMA – 44 rue Rodier, 75009, Paris.

Did you enjoy discovering this craftswoman?

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· Credits · Text : Somaya Krouna – Editor : Aurélia Monge – Photographies : Elliott Monge.
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