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A Bite With Gia at Yishan Korean Restaurant

Published: February 16, 2023
Yishan Korean Restaurant, a treasure of history, tradition, and great food in Middletown, NY. (Image: Gia Nina)

This article was contributed by Gia Nina, food enthusiast in the Hudson Valley area.

Welcome back to “A Bite with Gia,” your weekly guide to the delicious culinary scene in the Hudson Valley area of New York.

The Hudson Valley is known for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant arts and culture; but one aspect that often goes unnoticed is its thriving food scene. From farm-to-table restaurants and cozy cafes, to food trucks and everything in between, the Hudson Valley offers a diverse range of cuisine options for every palate. Join me as I take you on a culinary journey through the area, discovering hidden gems and savoring the best dishes the Hudson Valley has to offer. Let’s dive in and see what’s cooking!

Today we will be discussing a place that just opened up in Middletown, New York, that is full of historical tradition and a love of the arts: Yishan Korean Restaurant. This is a family-owned restaurant that replaced the oldest restaurant in the area.  In speaking with Yishan herself and her daughter Kimmie, I could discern their love of food and the passion they had for their craft.

According to Yishan (translated by Kimmie, as Yishan only speaks Korean) they came here in 2018. Yishan has been in the restaurant industry for 25 years  and this restaurant is the third restaurant they have opened in the US. Along with her experience, she brings delicious food with a long history of tradition.

You see, in Korea, once a woman marries she is taught by the mother-in-law all the family recipes that are special to their culture. There is even a secret sauce that no one else is allowed to cook in the restaurant.

Although there are assistant cooks, Yishan does all of the food prep in keeping with the tradition of her secret recipes. Kimmy tells me that all the food is cooked by Yishan and that the assistant Cooks only get taught how to cut the meat and prepare salads but they don’t go anywhere near the secret sauce. This delicious sauce compliments the meal in an exquisite way.

Hundreds of years of tradition were passed down to Yishan by her mother-in-law, and now she’s sharing it with the Hudson Valley. I asked what made them come to the Hudson Valley area, and discovered it was for the sake of art. Kimmy has a twin brother, Peyohah, and he loves to dance. He wanted to come to the Fei Tian Academy of the Arts here in Middletown and the whole family followed him. 

Starters (Image: Gia Nina)

This was a hard transition for Yishan. She explained that at first it was very hard and that she was sad because she missed her home. So she decided to open a restaurant because she loved sharing the food from home with others. Watching other people enjoy her food in the community gave her a sense of duty to the area and the people and that purpose helped her feel more at home.

Spicy chicken fried rice bowl. (Image: Gia Nina)

Besides Yishan, who holds the key to all that flavor, there’s also Zhu, her husband, Peyohah the son who loves dance, Kimmie the helpful daughter, and the youngest: Aiden.

“Steak set” brings the adventure of cooking to your table. (Image: Gia Nina)

Dining here is an experience to remember. If you order from the raw meats you get to cook it yourself at the table and dress it with the secret sauce wrapped in lettuce. I had some wings that were sweet and sticky, along with a salmon salad. I thought everything was delicious, and I was lucky to get the opinion of another couple dining there. Elizabeth and Allen had the spicy rice balls and the steak, which they said “had really good flavor and the options were worth the money.” 

Sweet and spicy fried chicken (Image: Gia Nina)

Yishan Korean Restaurant is really a must-try. They also host private events, with two VIP rooms to suit any dining situation, so keep them in mind next time you’re in Middletown.  

VIP room (Image: Gia Nina)

Yishan Korean Restaurant

75 Railroad Ave

Middletown, NY 10940

Phone: (845) 7754-725

Monday – Friday 11:30 am – 9:30 pm

Saturday – Sunday 11:30 am – 10:00 pm

Closed Tuesday and Wednesday

We look forward to seeing you at another great eatery next time with “A Bite with Gia.”