Archive for August, 2010

August 30, 2010

and the ball starts rolling (again)…

Danji’s permit was finally issued on Friday… a ten-week construction plan should be launched around September 7.

That’s not all — the restaurant now also has a phone number: 212-586-2880.

August 24, 2010

bad news, great news

I have bad news and good news for you all.  I’ll start with the bad because I love saving the good for last — like the time I made a bag of Halloween candy last me a whole year (because my mom forbade junk food from the house otherwise) and I made sure to purge all the licorice-flavored jelly beans out of my stash first.

Bad news: Day 1 of demolition started last Wednesday, assuming that the permit for construction would be approved on the same day.  That permit… is still nowhere to be found.  Actually, aside from a few issues (yet again) plaguing the process, the permit should be issued by this afternoon.  Day 2 of demolition will resume hopefully today or tomorrow.

What was the issue?  Basically, the building Danji will be residing in has a number of rent-controlled tenants.  Because of that, the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) requested the filing of anti-harassment paperwork stating that the landlord is not forcing the tenants out of their space.  This required an examiner to swing by and check things out, further complicating matters and stretching the time passed before the start of demolition.

Great news: Danji is included in two fall dining previews, a.k.a. this restaurant is really happening and word is starting to spread!  It’s interesting to note that of all the restaurants featured in NY Mag, Danji is the only one that is a first venture.

Metromix NY says:

Daniel/Masa vet Hooni Kim will open this 33-seater that will serve a mix of traditional and modern Korean cuisine, served up as small plates. The restaurant’s name refers to Korean clay jars used to store food items like kimchi or condiments, and the interior is appropriately inspired by hues found in a pottery studio. (October)

New York Magazine describes Danji as:

Modern and traditional Korean small plates from a veteran of Daniel and Masa.

Both descriptions include the word “modern” in it and I have always wondered what “modern” Korean food really means.  Is it “Korean” food, with spices toned down for non-Korean tastebuds?  Does it mean strips of bulgogi slapped onto a soft corn tortilla and topped with cilantro?  I’ve eaten at “fusion” Korean places (PS: I hate the word “fusion” — it sounds so fake) and have always been disappointed to the point where I regretted not visiting the local pizza joint instead.

In any case, I hope Danji can serve as the future benchmark for modern Korean food, as a restaurant that remains faithful to its Korean character, spices and all.  I don’t see why not, as this two-year-old toddler on YouTube proves that anyone can love — and be protective of — something as spicy as kimchi.

August 13, 2010

“patience is a virtue” — or so they say

Progress updates: things are moving slowly.  A little too slowly for me, but apparently there are always delays in this game.  I thought the interior would be demolished by the time I returned from Korea, but there have been interruptions pushing that schedule back yet another few days.  By the next post, I should be able to take pictures of half-naked men tearing the place apart for you all.  There are also no updates regarding the liquor license application… yet.

I could sense the team’s frustration for having had to deal with various snafus during the process in the past few weeks, but they have definitely been forced to learn the art of patience.  To throw me a bone, the good people at Danji gave me a rendering of what the restaurant could look like when it opens this fall.

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In other news, there have been several articles highlighting Korean (and Korean-style) food recently:

– The Wall Street Journal talks about how “Seoul Becomes a Foodie Destination” through chefs who trained overseas and returned to open restaurants in Korea, upscale/reinvented Korean cuisine (such as risotto with a dwenjang paste base), and star allure.

– The NYT explores Korean-style tacos becoming the latest trend nationwide in the United States, especially in the food truck business.

– Last, but not least, South Korean media capture rapper Kanye West and his entourage dining at a local Korean restaurant near Naksan Beach, where he performed at an annual summer beach concert last week (Source)


August 12, 2010

Korea

What a whirlwind of a trip!  Two weeks and three days of jet lag later, I’m finally back in the swing of things in New York.  And what a short summer it has been, ever since I moved back up here from DC in early July.  Oh right, did I forgot to mention that DC is where I have been in the past seven years?

Anyway, I spent the last two weeks in Korea.  South Korea, in case you’re wondering which one… but then again, if you’re reading this blog you hopefully aren’t wondering.  A big deal because I haven’t been in eight years (when I was a doe-eyed 17-year-old girl).  A lot has changed in the last decade.  I didn’t even know where to go when I stepped off the plane; the neighborhood where all the cool people hang out seems to change every year.

I enjoyed eating the food in Korea, but I chose what I ate.  The first thing people asked me after I came back to NY was whether I ate live octopus.  Uh, no way!  I know it’s an authentic experience, but I have too deep an emotional scar to ever try that dish again.  When I was five, my uncles took me on this short cruise/ferry ride where they serve a live or raw version of pretty much anything you find in the sea.  I remember trying live octopus for the very first time, but was so scared of it that I swallowed the moving tentacle in one gulp.  With a serious look on their faces, my uncles told me that because I didn’t chew it into tiny pieces, it was going to eat me up from my insides and that in a few hours I would die.  Ever since then, I have sworn off live octopus forever.  These are the same uncles who fed me wasabi on a spoon and told me it was green candy, but that’s a story for another time…

This time around, I had everything from vendor food, sushi, fancy Italian, Korean-style pizza, traditional Korean cuisine, to street candy made in front of my eyes.  The food was as good as I remembered, but my body tended to bloat and retain water easily after eating meals in Korea, causing much discomfort during the trip.  Basically, I would still choose my mom’s home cooking over anyone else’s in Korea.  However, I will say that the cost of eating everyday food in Korea is much cheaper that I had anticipated, especially when compared to NY.  The fanciest places in Korea were definitely up there in the price range, but for a normal 25-year-old girl with enough relatives I haven’t seen in ages who took me out to eat, my two-week stint in Korea was easy on the wallet.

My final thoughts: Koreans love cute cafes and foreign food.  An example of this was eating carbonara-flavored ddukbokki at a hip cafe in the trendy Garosugil area of Sinsa-dong (best comparison: NYC’s SoHo, think boutiques and restaurants).  Seriously, carbonara-flavored ddukbokki?

Note: My chunky camera was at times too much of a burden to carry around, especially since every day seemed muggier and hotter than the last.  So I left the camera at home most of the time, but luckily managed to snap a few pictures of the food I ate.

I know that this post doesn’t have anything to do with Danji, but I wanted to give you a glimpse into my thoughts on Korea and Korean food today.

August 6, 2010

hwayo

Speaking of the liquor license — which is still in the works – I recently received a few complimentary bottles of HWAYO, the Korean soju that Danji will be offering to its patrons. Soju (소주) is a clear, distilled alcoholic beverage traditionally made from rice. (Source).

According to its packaging,

HWAYO is a soju of a pure, deep taste, made from the finest Korean rice by the master distillers of traditional pottery manufacturer, Kwangjuyo. HWAYO is produced using a distillation process handed down for over 700 years, from the finest rice and groundwater drawn from 150-meter deep bedrock aquifers. Extracted drop by drop through a low-temperature decompression distillation process, HWAYO is then matured underground in breathing earthenware pots, giving birth to a flavor unique in its depth and smoothness.

If approved, Danji will be the first commercial restaurant to serve HWAYO outside of South Korea, importing it directly from the company. The packaging is pretty too, which is rare of the soju bottles traditionally found in Korean bars of New York.

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Sorry for the lack of updates as of late. I’m traveling in Korea (first time in eight years). Be back next week!