Monday, March 19, 2012

Korean Flavor

Danji is a 36-seat Korean tapas restaurant on West 52nd Street. Hooni Kim, who we had the pleasure of meeting, is chef/owner of this small Hell's Kitchen restaurant. He seemed genuinely interested in meeting us and chatting about food. I went with some friends from culinary management school, so we're all very much into food. Chef Kim told us that he was happy doing his food and that people were liking it. People weren't liking it, they were loving it. As I waited outside for the rest of my party to arrive, Danji attracted the attention to nearly every passerby. "This is my favorite place" or "we have to go here" were only a few things said about Danji. Walk inside and the bartender immediately lets you know that the line starts at the wall. There's limited space, so hopefully its nice enough to wait outside--or at the bar next door like we did. Although standing along the wall might be awkward, it is hilarious to see people wrestle through the huge curtain in the doorway.

Finally we were seated at a bar table that came equipped with drawers that held our menus. The space itself looked like it was designed by a Korean Ikea and it also felt like it--uncomfortable if you haven't experienced the wonders of an Ikea bed or couch. The decor matched the concept though, a nice juxtaposition between old and new similar to its menu. Danji's menu explores Kim's take on both traditional and modern Korean food. Order a bunch of dishes to share and if something is delicious--order some more. Meals go quick here and there's a no reservation policy so somebody is probably eyeing you for your seat. Small plates range from $8-$20 and will come out of the kitchen in waves allowing you to enjoy dishes as ready. Taste around the menu. The spicy whelk salad with buckwheat noodles, poached sablefish with daikon, and spicy yellowtail sashimi were all delicious fish dishes, but Kim's meat dishes sure did shine. Bulgogi sliders with spicy pickled cucumber and scallion salsa were so good we had to get seconds. The pork sliders, bossam, and kimchi bacon chorizo paella were also hits at our table. Definitely explore the menu. And don't forget to grab some drinks--I would recommend a shot of soju and an OB lager (or a 16oz Sixpoint can). CHECK IT OUT!

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