NYC Koreatown restaurant shut down after couple reports they found dead rat in soup

[Source]

A restaurant in Manhattan’s Koreatown was shut down Wednesday following an inspection triggered by a customer’s report of a dead rat in soup delivered to their home over the weekend.

Eunice Lucero-Lee and her husband ordered sogogi gukbap — a spicy beef soup dish — on Saturday from Gammeeok, a popular spot in the area. The couple had been visiting the business for a decade, but they are now suing it for leaving them “disgusted and violently sick.”

A video and photos Lucero-Lee posted on Instagram show what appears to be a dead mouse floating in the stew. “That is a rat in our soup,” she confirmed in her post, describing it as the “most disgusting thing.”

The discovery left the couple “disgusted and violently sick, causing them to vomit and seek medical attention,” according to their suit filed this week.

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They claim to suffer from “severe, serious and permanent injuries” and accused Gammeeok of “negligent infliction of emotional distress.”

Gammeeok, which has another branch in Fort Lee, New Jersey, remained open even after the couple notified the restaurant about the order, Lucero-Lee said. In an update, she noted that the incident was also reported to the New York City Health Department, which reportedly took action by shutting them down on Wednesday.

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As of Thursday afternoon, Gammeeok has a “C” rating on the health agency’s website, which has yet to be updated. Inspections on March 3, 2020; June 15, 2022; and Jan. 18, 2023, all revealed sanitary violations, ranging from failure to protect food from “potential source of contamination” to the presence of filth flies, or “food/refuse/sewage associated with (FRSA) flies.”

Lucero-Lee, a magazine editor, maintained that she and her husband remain “proud supporters” of Asian food and warned against using their experience to fuel more anti-Asian hate.

We have been going to this restaurant for a decade and are otherwise proud supporters of Asian cuisine and culture. This incident is in no way to be used to fuel race-based hate or prejudice and I will have an issue with anyone who uses these posts to fit that narrative.

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Gammeeok, on the other hand, has retaliated with Instagram posts of its own, denying seeing any rat while preparing the soup.

According to the restaurant, it reviewed security footage and “couldn’t find any problems.”

“When we transferred the soup, we served it four times with a ladle while the staff watched it with their eyes,” Gammeeok stated. “If there was a mouse that big, there’s no way I wouldn’t have missed it.”

Gammeeok went on to claim that the couple had made a similar but now-deleted Yelp review about another restaurant in Koreatown, this time involving “flies.” The business also refuted allegations that it tried to bribe their way out of the incident with $5,000.

For now, Gammeeok has a “closed” sign on its front door.

Fabien Levy, a representative for Mayor Eric Adams, confirmed the restaurant’s closure in a statement to TMZ.

No New York City restaurant is authorized to have mice or rats on the menu and we are investigating further. Our top priority is protecting the health of New Yorkers and if a restaurant has conditions that threaten our city’s diners, they will be shut down.

Health inspectors reportedly found rat droppings at the restaurant, TMZ noted. The business also allegedly failed to store food at the correct temperature, lacked a trained supervisor and had been operating without proper permits.

How Gammeeok plans to turn its fate around is yet to be seen. In a comment under Lucero-Lee’s post, the restaurant reportedly said it plans to take legal action against the couple for “attacking us through social media.”