In this diverse city where just about every cuisine imaginable is offered to the masses, how does a restaurant as innovative and satisfying as Jebon, remain so quietly apart from the spotlight?
The East Village, or more specifically St. Marks Place, offers such a vast array of Pan-Asian cuisine that one is often left with the question not of what to eat, but where. Come into Jebon where the restaurant name itself carries many different meanings; “Dinner” in Chaozhounese, “Eat” in Taiwanese and “I am alright” in French. Ironically enough, the idea behind Jebon is a mixture of Eastern and Western cuisines, a middle ground between Chinatown and Midtown. Manager Anthony Tse describes Jebon’s ideal customer as a 2nd generation young Asian-American professional who is more familiar with hamburgers than intestines. Keeping this notion in mind, Anthony handpicks and sometimes even creates items on the diverse menu. Sushi, skewers, chicken wings and ramen are to name a few. Jebon’s best selling dish, also Tse’s pride and joy is the Extreme Spicy Beef Ramen. In order to understand the simplicity behind this concoction, Tse gives me a lesson in ramen; traditional Japanese ramen uses a miso, pork or chicken broth. This bowl of ramen uses a beef broth which is a Chinese influence. Paired with slow cooked beef, stir fried onion and mushrooms as well as homemade Chinese chili oil, Tse created this popular combo himself, with a hamburger in mind (note the onions and mushrooms).
Tse handpicks the items on the menu as well as the sake selection. In front of him are an assortment of meticulously prepared dishes; the sushi boat is especially dazzling. Surprisingly, the prices are remarkably low for the quality offered. The rolls are unique and delicious; among my favorites, the Lobster Uni Roll (lobster salad and cucumber topped with extremely fresh uni and avocado) and the Dynamite Roll (a baked roll with shrimp, shredded crab, masago and spicy mayo). Jebon also has its own version of the Taiwanese pork belly bun, the Smiley Bun. Slow-cooked tender pork wrapped in a soft peking duck bun with cucumbers and scallion, this bun is sure to put a smile on any pork lover’s face. Jebon also serves an array of desserts from the local food truck, Dessert Truck. Another Jebon favorite is their infamous Sake Slushes created by the owner himself. Jebon also offers Happy Hour every weekday and specials include buy-one-get-one-free bottled beer, and $12 pitchers of Sapporo. But don’t come for the specials alone. Jebon boasts the largest restaurant in St. Marks with 3,000 square feet up and downstairs. The basement area is equipped with its own bar and dining tables, perfect for small events or parties. Every Monday night at Jebon is Batsu! night, and for a mere $14, audience members can partake in the hilarious and witty improv/Japanese variety show which means “punishment”. Dinner service is offered as well as sake bomb specials. Although Batsu! can get loud at times, the entire floor is soundproof so the upstairs restaurant area is not disturbed.
Affordable yet deliciously fresh food, amazing drink specials, catered desserts and the biggest space in St. Mark’s sums up this unique gem in the East Village. With original noodles, rolls and drinks, Jebon puts on quite the show for young hipsters and families alike.