Located in mid-town NYC, on 52nd Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, Danji is a little space known for big flavors and that serves to the intimate, excited crowd.
Danji opened in 2011 and quickly became recognized for exceptional food and a bustling dining room. The first restaurant of Chef Hooni Kim, Danji showcases authentic Korean flavors prepared with classic techniques that enhance the taste, textures, and aesthetic of each dish. By offering small but shareable portions served in multiple courses, diners get to enjoy a variety of flavors, hot out of the kitchen.
Danji, represents a fresh and modern idea of a great place to enjoy amazing food. Nothing at Danji has been left to chance everything from the décor, to the music, to the ingredients to the presentation of each plate are chosen to represent the progressive vision of Chef Kim and his staff at Danji.
Chef Hooni Kim
Chef Kim brings his unique life experience and vision to Danji. A native of Korea, he was born in Seoul, spent part of his childhood in London, but made New York City his home at the age of the ten. Since then, Chef Kim has embraced the culture of New York and Danji reflects his style and influences. He originally wanted to be a Doctor and studied at the University of California at Berkeley. But luckily for us, he was drawn to his passion for food and cooking. He dropped out of Medical School, returned to the East Coast and attended the French Culinary Institute. After his training he worked at the 3 Star Michelin Restaurants Daniel and Masa before opening Danji.
The food at Danji is Korean the only way a classically trained Chef who fell in love with New York culture can make it. Chef Kim plays with flavor and technique and applies everything he knows and learns to his food. His passion and knowledge pay off as he plates meats and fish with bold and subtle flavors that make you glad the plates are meant to be shared. By combining elements of French technique, Spanish style and authentic Korean flavor, Chef Kim has created dishes that blend iconic cultural flavors. The menu is full of fierce Korean flavors of ginger, red pepper, garlic, sesame oil nad Chef Kim blends them expertly into flavorful meats, delicate fish and vegetarian meals. Danji features a full beverage menu, and the meals are complimented by a full selection of cocktails, beer, soju, sake and wine.
The clean modern flavors make the Spicy Yellowtail Sashimi an elegant mouthwatering treat. Yellowtail is garnished with jalapeno, daikon, and cucumbers, then painted with a sweet and spicy gochujang sauce
The authentic Korean flavors of the Spicy Pork Belly Sliders can’t be missed. Melt in your mouth pork belly is topped with scallions, cucumbers and gochujang on a traditional sweet bun.
The sweet and earthy flavors of Asian pear and toasted pine nuts create dynamic flavors with the delicate quail yolk on the Steak Tartare
The flavors of this comforting dish practically melt in your mouth as will the tender braised short ribs with pine nuts, pearl onions, potatoes, and carrots.
Daikon radish brings spiciness and crunch to the deep flavors of the Korean soy-poached black cod.
The food doesn’t just look amazing and taste delicious, it’s also healthy and environmentally sustainable. Danji uses meat that was raised without antibiotics or growth hormones, the fish are caught wild and they don’t use chemicals, such as MSG, to enhance flavors. While they import specialty foods from Korea to ensure authenticity, they use as much organic and local produce as possible. Danji is committed to enhancing the nutritional quality of meals, without compromising taste and many dishes are SPE Certified, a unique certification program that defines a new way to eat. These commitments to health, the environment and outstanding flavor, make Danji and Chef Kim an innovative force.
With 36 seats, the space is intimate and never feels empty. The décor like the food plays with texture and light. The closely placed tables are made intimate by dividers made of traditional Korean cooking spoons and earthen ware pots similar to the ones used to ferment Kimchi add a rustic touch. This isn’t the place to be if you are glued to your phone, as the communal blond wood tables allow diners to eat and socialize like they would at a party.
If you don’t want to share a table, there are seats at the bar, where you can chill out and eat with by yourself. The vibe is high-energy and fun, just like the food and you feel like you become a part of the bustle and rush.
A version of this article by Amanda Ashley at TastyKFood. Photo by Danji.