The first Michelin Star Korean restaurant

While Jungsik still holds a nice spot on my bucket list, Danji proves that Korean food can be Michelin Star worthy with its array of tastes on traditional dishes.

I grew up with a mom who serves some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. She’s knowledgeable in all things cuisine related ranging from tasting other chef’s food to incorporating five recipes into her own. Naturally I formed a passion for a great-tasting meal and an appetite to try new dishes.

Danji exceeded my expectations for several reasons:

  • Cost to portion ratio: I felt I ate enough for what I paid for. I left stuffed without a heavy feeling often derived from Southern comfort food. The dishes are also broken down from small, medium and large so it’s up to the diner to choose how much he/she wants to eat.
  • Specialized drinks: Justin learned how to make an amazing margarita recently, which meant we understood everything from a weak/strong portion to a variety of flavors embodied into one liquid state. We tried three total and each one offered a reason to go back for cocktails.
  • Traditional, yet untraditional: Perhaps this is a contradiction, but let me explain further. If you go to a Korean local restaurant and perhaps even a food court, you would receive a traditional dish. At Danji, Chef Hooni Kim combines traditional flavors but adds an unconventional touch that doesn’t drive you away from its usual taste, but actually question what makes it special. When I visited momofuku CCDC, our waiter mentioned Asian diners usually construct negative feedback because David Chang’s dishes embody hybrid qualities of both American and Asian flavors. It’s like a watered down drink, you get the taste but there’s a missing element. Danji does an excellent job at keeping its traditional roots but optimized for a diversity of diners.

Walk inside and you’ll find a string of dim lights, cocktail and wine glasses hanging above the bar, several high-top tables and a small section of seating upon walking a narrow hallway. If you try and make a reservation on Opentable for more than 4 people, you’ll be prompted with a restriction, but perhaps you can call the restaurant?

Here’s what we ordered: Makgeolli, Soju Sangria, Tokyo Drift, spicy yellowtail sashimi with crispy potato flakes, bossam, soy-poached black cod with spicy daikon, braised short rib with fingerlings, steak tartare with quail yolk, tofu with ginger scallion dressing, spicy rice cake with Berkshire sausage, spicy ‘K.F.C.’ korean fire chicken wings and bulgogi beef sliders.

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There’s also a great interview with the chef here.

Then again what do I know? I ain’t no food critic. 

Danji is located on 346 W 52nd St in New York. 

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