behind the name: danji

Danji.  A Korean word that could mean a variety of things but often defined as clay jars of various sizes, shapes, and colors.  A danji can serve a purpose as anything from a honey jar to a jewelry box, and is usually used to contain the kimchi, soy sauce, and other scrumptious staples of a Korean household.

According to chef/owner Hooni Kim, he discovered the name Danji entirely by chance.  While reading a Korean children’s book to his young son, he came across a picture of a honey jar with “danji” written on it.  He thought that “danji” was the Korean word for honey and both simple and easy to remember, his requirements for a restaurant name.  Later on, he realized that it meant something completely else but liked “danji” enough to choose it for the name of his first restaurant.

The word “danji” personally evokes nostalgia in my mind — I remember growing up with an assortment of earthenware pots around the house (yes, even in New York).  My family would dine al fresco in the backyard each summer, and a medley of spicy and savory Korean sauces — individually presented in small pottery — would always accompany our barbecue meals.  I can see Danji providing New Yorkers an escape from the city’s hustle and bustle with a cozy, welcoming presence as suggested by its name.  I guess we’ll find out over the next few months!

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