Seoul Recipe founder Jennifer Kim opens modern Korean bistro Danji in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai.
Here’s a little lesson in Korean culture for you. The traditional earthenware pot used to store sauces like doenjang (soybean paste), gochujang (Korean chilli paste), and ganjang (soy sauce), as well as that culinary staple kimchi, during Korea’s brutal winter months (it’s also used to keep firey makgeolli rice wine close at hand) is called a Danji. It’s also the name of Star Street’s newest eatery, one that transports diners to the heart of the thriving South Korean capital.
The creation of Jennifer Kim, who cut her culinary teeth on the beloved Korean food concept Seoul Recipe, Danji serves up traditional, home-style Korean cuisine with a hefty pinch of modern flair, with classics like crispy kimchi pancakes, marinated galbi ribs, and fried chicken all making a cameo on the menu. And while danji are often buried in the ground to keep them extra frosty, the eatery is far more accessible.
Noticing a lack of Korean restaurants around Admiralty and Wan Chai, Kim created her own vision of a casual neighbourhood Korean bistro, one where unpretentious Korean food and drinks could be served in a warm and friendly environment, and where all the best crave-worthy plates from her homeland could be ordered.
Starters include some well-known Korean appetizers with a unique Danji twist, such as the Buckwheat Kimchi Crepe, a freshly made buckwheat tortilla topped with well-riped homemade kimchi, as well as Sliced Beef Salad, which features thinly sliced beef brisket on a bed or seasonal greens and chopped chives tossed in soy sauce dressing.
From the main section, flavourful meat dishes like Bossam, braised pork belly served with steamed baby cabbage leaves and radish kimchi, and Grilled Eel with sliced ginger and chilli sauce, stand side by side in solidarity with the country’s famous boneless Fried Chicken, topped with deep-fried vegetable fritters, and traditional braised dishes such as Galbi Jjim, aromatic Korean beef short ribs.
The extensive selection of rice and noodles comprises Hanwoo Kimchi Fried Rice featuring 1++ top-grade Korean beef stir-fried with Korean cabbage kimchi and rice; Impossible Bibimbap, a sustainable option with quinoa and tofu toppings; and Ssam Set, an assortment of vegetable wraps served with char-grilled Korean pork and homemade ssam sauce. You’ll also be able to keep the cold at bay with the likes of Spicy Tofu Seafood Stew, Busan Fishcake Soup, or the substantial 1++ Hanwoo striploin, grilled at the table.
No Korean meal would be complete without a little booze, in this case a menu of soju, makgeolli, Koreansake, beer, and even Korean wine. Signature drinks include the Danji Soju Punch, available in Yuzu or Grapefruit varieties; CheongMyeonJu sake; and Boksoondoga, a premium makgeolli with wonderful Champagne-like bubbles.
And to think you won’t even have to do the digging.
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