I was admittedly horribly jet lagged the night I had dinner at Park Slope’s Haenyeo. I messaged my friend Nikki at 6:30 pm that I would take a half hour power nap so I’d be fresh for dinner. She swiftly wrote back: “Are you sure that’s a good idea so close to the reservation time? This is not a place where they’ll hold your table for you, especially not now with the whole James Beard thing.”

The “thing” turned out to be a well-deserved James Beard award nomination for head chef Jenny Kwak.

I rallied and choked down the dregs of my giant morning coffee and got there ten minutes early. Plenty of time to see the restaurant was packed with diners enjoying dishes that looked and smelled sublime. The coffee was kicking in and I was also buzzing a bit from the anticipation of what I was going to eat. About half the menu, primarily the small plates, were certainly Korean influenced but with a twist, such as the grilled oysters with seaweed butter.

Grilled oysters with seaweed butter and brioche toast

The cocktail list was also impressive, and the New York Sleepover proved to be as delicious as it was intriguing. A perfect whiskey sour with a forward chamomile note, a chianti float on top. It worked.

The New York Sleepover, one of several expertly mixed cocktails at Haenyeo

Probably my favorite dish was the savory egg custard loaded with fresh uni and salmon roe. This was luxe comfort food at its best. A perfect antidote to a cold and blustery night outside, especially when paired with the beef and kimchi gyoza.

Gyoza (top) and savory egg custard with uni and salmon roe (bottom)

We didn’t have much room for dessert after enjoying some incredibly flavorful short rib lettuce wraps and a tender soy braised sablefish.

Soy sablefish with bok choy

The famous beignets were incredibly tempting, but we declined dessert. The service was gracious and on point, even though it’s been a hot spot since it opened about a year ago, and its star is about to burn even brighter with Chef Kwak’s shortlisting for the James Beard award.

A must when in Brooklyn, and I’d love to return and experience more of the wonderful menu.