Danji Is Our Restaurant of the Week

Leslie Pariseau
Korean cuisine is nothing new to New York. Most of us have experienced our fair share of post-kimchi scented sighs and barbecue painted fingers, but odds are most haven't encountered kimchi and bacon fried paella or bulgogi filet mignon. Meet Danji.

Located on an unlikely bit of 52nd Street, Danji is a mini-slice of the increasingly haute-ward Hell's Kitchen. The long and narrow space is splashed with unconventional bits of decorating -- abacus-like walls of spoons, map-lined drawers beneath tables for menus and utensils -- nightly setting the scene for a new kind of Korean feast. Chef Hooni Kim, formerly of Daniel and Masa, has curated a tight menu of small plates divided into traditional and modern styles. One evening, over ginseng sodas (gin, lime, ginger ginseng, $12), a group of carnivorous women tore through two plates of sweet and musky K.F.C (Korean fried chicken wings, $9), an order of tender braised short ribs ($16, pictured at left), a selection of gracefully piled kimchis ($5) and rice to soak it all up ($2). Plates of pork belly sliders ($12) hit every surrounding table and were quickly followed by fancified bulgogi sliders ($14), a traditional fire-roasted style of meat. For a brief interim the tasting slowed as the women refueled with a carafe of Bekseju soju ($16) and, reinvigorated, dived into a heap of addictively crispy calamari ($9) and a generous dish of fried rice dashed with bits of smoky bacon and aromatic kimchi ($14). As the evening lulled toward a close, the option of dessert was presented. Murmurs of consideration and indecisive shrugs led to one woman taking charge: "Actually, another order of fried chicken, please?"
346 W. 52nd St.
(212) 586-2880

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