Kristal Dreams

Kristalbelli dazzles in Koreatown

Ordering soup at a Korean barbecue restaurant is akin to riding the carousel at an amusement park with the world's fastest roller coaster.  

Or so we thought, until we ate chef David Shim's bulgogi jungol ($56 for two people) at the new Kristabelli in Koreatown.

Much has been made of Kristalbelli's cutting-edge crystal griddles and vents designed to eliminate meat miasma. After searing a whole rib eye and coils of duck breast, we can authoritatively state that crystal is the new steel.

With the searing done, a server wielding industrial tongs replaced the griddle with a crystal casserole dish. A plate loaded with strips of raw rib eye marinated with soy sauce, garlic, Asian pear and kiwi appeared, followed by a spiral of sliced onions, scallions and carrots alongside chiles, dried potato-starch noodles and four types of mushrooms.

As we watched agog, the server seared vegetables, adding broth from a pitcher, then repeated the process with the remaining ingredients. The result was an epic meal of Korean flavors running headlong into French technique: Mammal meets pasture after a mushroom hunt.

Finally, as if that were not sufficient, short-grain rice, two eggs and shreds of nori were tossed into the remaining broth, transforming it into a sublime Asian risotto.

Roller coasters: so overrated.

Kristalbelli, 8 W. 36th St. (at Fifth Ave.); 212-290-2211 or kristalbelli.com