January 25, 2011

my first visit

Dear readers,

After traipsing around South Asia for two weeks, I was finally able to check out Danji for the first time since its opening.  I am now sadly back in frigid Cambridge, MA but feel fuzzy every time I think about the warmth that Danji promised and delivered.  The space is beautiful.  The food is divine.  The best part about it?  It just feels like… home.  Chic decor and fancy plating would mean nothing without the warmth of the people there.  It was nice chatting with the down-to-earth crew… and Danji was the perfect place to catch up with an old girlfriend (for hours), so much that I didn’t want to leave.  I would highly recommend that you check it out as soon as possible.  And do yourself a favor and order the sablefish.

Now that Danji is up and running, it’s sadly time for me to sign off.  It’s been a pleasure tracking Danji’s birth over the last few months.  I wish the best to team Danji!



Other Danji links that you must check out:

– Official pictures here by 2Be Photography & Design (simply stunning photos!)
– A first look by Thrillist
Time Out New York’s Feed review

December 6, 2010

a week and some change left

Things are ramping up over at Danji in preparation for the grand opening.

More details coming soon…

November 24, 2010

happy (almost) thanksgiving!

Happy thanksgiving!  Team Danji has a lot to be grateful this Thanksgiving season — now that the opening date has been set, all other aspects of opening this restaurant are in motion.

As a diehard carnivore, I am very pleased to report that Danji’s meat will be of top quality and as natural as you can get ’em. Creekstone Farms will provide the beef — beef that is free of antibiotics, hormones, and artificial ingredients.  What makes me happy is that Creekstone Farms practices humane animal handling, which probably means that the cows are free to roam around as they please and are petted frequently with TLC.  The chicken will be sourced by Bell & Evans, another provider of all-natural, all-veggie fed chickens.  Pork, one of my favorites, will be from Natural Hampshire — its never, never program means that the meat is minimally processed, all natural, you get the point by now.  Sounds like a program for Peter Pan to me.

After the meaty entrees, Danji will be serving treats from Paris Baguette, a Korean bakery located in numerous cities around the world, who has agreed to make a few custom cakes for the restaurants.  My sweet tooth is pretty big, so this puts a big smile on my face.

If you’re not a carnivore or a dessert lover like I am, fret not because you will be very pleased with the drinks being served up at the bar (or so I hear).  Vincent Favella of The Counting Room, in Brooklyn, NY, will be creating the cocktail list and consulting the bar program.  I have not yet personally imbibed on drinks served up by Mr. Favella, but if the reviews are as good as they sound, you will most likely see a crowd surrounding the bar quite often.

Finally, the kitchen staff have all been hired.  Other hirings are in progress, such as the front of the house staff.  You can probably find that ad on Craigslist.

Once again, happy thanksgiving!  I’m certainly looking forward to spending this Thanksgiving at home in NY, with turkey and kimchi.

November 4, 2010

finally, a date

Dear Readers,

Sorry for the unexpected hiatus.  Midterms + lack of updates… you do the math.  However, I have a few exciting news items hot off the press for you, so get excited!

Danji is planning to host its grand opening on Wednesday, December 15.  It’s about damned time, right?  I started this blog thinking that the opening date would be in late August.  I was very, very wrong.  But not surprising in the restaurant world.

I took a sneak peek at the opening menu and it looks absolutely scrumptious!  The menu contains a balanced mix of traditional and modern dishes — food that I grew up eating, and food that I wished my mom made.  Personally, I’m most excited for the five house cocktails: sujungkwa (see a few entries below and you’ll know what I’m talking about), ginger, ginseng, Korean pear, and one that is infused with red wine.

Team Danji also bought most of the restaurant’s china and glassware (including Schott Zweissel wine glasses).  Photos of those potentially forthcoming…

Until then, here’s what the place looks like right now:

October 20, 2010

a crisis like no other

If you haven’t heard, there is a huge crisis in South Korea right now.  It is not a threat of provocation from the DPRK, nor is it another story of political/corporate corruption.  There’s a shortage in kimchi!  A national source of pride, cabbage is dwindling in supply and causing alarmed reactions from Korean mothers and grandmothers everywhere.  I loved the New York Times’ description of the process of producing homemade kimchi:

Mrs. Roh has two daughters, both in their 30s, and she said they learned to make kimchi “by looking over my shoulder, by tasting and doing, like all Korean girls are supposed to.

Really, Mrs. Roh?  I have no idea how to make the spicy and fermented cabbage dish, but I’m just happy that my mom sent me a homemade batch last week.

October 14, 2010

diving into autumn

Fall is my second-to-last favorite season of the year.  Cute sweaters and autumn-palette clothing aside, I find the days getting shorter and chillier.  Gone are the breezy summer nights spent with friends on rooftops, lost are the extra hours in the day dedicated to laying out by the pool.  In the house, watermelons are slowly (but surely) replaced with figs, and succulent blueberries make way for bitter cranberries.

While I am a summer girl at heart, it reassures me to know that certain foods will sustain me and make it a tad easier for me to deal with the transition to winter.

Pumpkin pie, yes. Seasonally flavored Starbucks drinks, no.  Korean acorn jelly, as recently featured in the New York Times, a big fat YES.

This dish, made by awesome Korean moms everywhere, is one that I could eat every day and not get sick of (well, maybe after a week…).  How could anyone resist the refreshingly nutty taste of the acorn, subtly encapsulated in a simple, brown jelly dish?  I wonder if Danji would even consider my humble request for it to highlight the dish in its seasonal/autumn menu?  Perhaps the team could start thinking about it soon, now that the liquor license has officially been granted (great news for the lushes of NYC!) and construction is still underway.

Speaking of construction, here are a few more pictures depicting Danji’s transformation:

September 30, 2010

the cocoon stage

You know when a caterpillar goes through a really ugly stage before turning into a butterfly?  I would like to compare Danji’s transformation to just that.  Here is proof:

Yes, construction is still underway.


I attended a Korean-American conference in DC last weekend and was very interested in seeing (and tasting) the food featured at the gala.  Headed by two of several prominent Korean-American chefs in the nation (Akira Back and Edward Lee), the multi-course dinner included modern interpretations of traditional Korean cuisine.  Bossam wraps, tuna pizza, Korean short ribs, blah blah blah.  Been there, tasted that.

What really intrigued me, however, was the innovative and aha!-inducing dessert finale.  Titled in the menu as “flavors of soo jung gwa” (traditional Korean drink with dried persimmon, ginger, cinnamon, pine nuts), it was a decadent dish of cinnamon-pine nut financier, candied ginger-chili sauce, persimmon pudding and honey ice cream.  I asked for an encore.

September 23, 2010

construction underway

Construction is underway after Team Danji received its construction permit — pictures will be up next week.  The restaurant also signed with Handcrafted PR, Inc. for representation.  Everyone is hoping that exciting updates will continue trickling in, including me!


Unrelated to food, but another example of the Korean culture infiltrating the haute fashion scene: Carolina Herrera’s Spring 2011 collection presented during NY Fashion Week clearly had influences from the designer’s trip to Korea.  Models donned traditional hats worn by men back in the day, and most dresses presented featured the goreum bow found on hanbok, traditional Korean dresses.  My bet is that Danji will provide the perfect segue for foodies to dive into haute Korean cuisine.

September 14, 2010

furniture scored!

The chair you see above is sold out worldwide for the next two years.  Currently a grad student who scored my furniture via Craigslist, I can’t begin to fathom how furniture could be exclusive (or even sold out).  Luckily, Danji was able to nab these Magis Pipe chairs and stools designed by Jasper Morrison and become the only restaurant in New York to have them for the next two years.  The team was able to intercept a chair before it was sent to a factory in LA from Italy to check it out and they really really like it.

Magis describes itself as a “brand that has given a novel twist to domestic design, building its identity on incorporating leading edge technology into mass production.”  This Italian company was founded by Eugenio Perazza in 1976, and famous furniture designer Jasper Morrison created this stacking “Pipe Chair” in 2009 by side of an English chair from the 17th century.  Details about the chair are as follows:

Stacking chair.
Also available with arms.
Year of production: 2009.
Material: frame in polished aluminium tube or painted in polyester powder.
Seat and back in punched aluminium plate polished or painted in polyester powder, or in beech plywood.


The New York Times recently came out with their fall preview:

DANJI Small plates of Korean inspiration will be the focus of chef and owner Hooni Kim’s cooking. The restaurant’s name refers to the clay jars used to contain kimchee, and they have inspired the décor: 346 West 52nd Street. October.

September 10, 2010

featured on NY Mag’s Grub Street!

Hello, new visitors!  If you’re visiting this page because you read about this blog in NY Mag’s Grub Street, feel free to take your shoes off, come inside and look around.  While I can’t offer you fresh cut fruit like any other domesticated Korean woman (aka my mom) would, I hope you enjoy the pictures and updates on Danji.

For our usual readers, NY Mag says “Project Danji Blogs the Construction of a Masa Vet’s Solo Debut”:

As we continue to track the progress of “Fall Preview” restaurants, may we turn your attention to Project Danji? An independent blogger is chronicling the construction and opening of Danji, the 33-seat Korean small-plates restaurant that Daniel and Masa vet Hooni Kim is bringing to East 52nd Street. Team Danji had been aiming for an October opening, but the blog is chock-full of hand-wringing about construction and licensing delays.