Total Bill: $135 for three

Danji - Steak TartareWhen Korean food is too much, Manhattan has made it so that there is such a thing as Korean tapas.

Danji is not K-town. It serves small bites, largely of Korean influence with a bit of American.

Kimmy, Jay and I met up for a post-Thanksgiving meal here. We got there when doors opened at 5:15 pm that Friday, and it’s little space was overflowing by 5:30.

For those who want authentic Korean food, K-town is still your best bet. But for anyone who wants to ease into the cuisine, Danji lets you do that. The dish that exemplifies this is the spicy pork belly slider.

Danji - Spicy Pork Sliders

The pork belly is seasoned just as you’d find it in a traditional Korean meal, heavy with salt and a peppery spice. It’s cut into smaller pieces here and packed with scallions and cucumber on a toasted brioche.

My favorite was the steak tartare, though, known as yook hwe. Jay says this is usually served in thin slices. Here, it was finely cubed and served with a quail egg, toasted pine nuts and topped with shreds of Asian pear. You mix it all together and get this really subtle, earthy flavor — probably the lightest dish you can get here.

They have a cheese dduk bok ki too, like how they do it at Arang in K-town, except at about an eighth the size. The notable difference here is how the rice cakes are a bit smaller and cooked so the ends are crisped ever so slightly — a nice added texture to the gooey entree.

Danji - Kimchi Bacon Fried RiceDanji - Dduk Bok GiWhat not to order? The kimchi bacon fried rice. Barely any bacon, which is the only fusion factor in this dish, is detectable. The rice is dry unlike the traditionally fluffy Korean rice, and overall seasoning leaned a bit too far on the sweet side.

Jay felt the overall flavoring here was a tad sweet, but it’s sort of a nice alternative to the enormous portions you get in K-town that force you into choosing one entree. Danji - Asian Pear VodkaDanji - Braised Short RibIt’s a great compromise, melding a very distinct cuisine with an American palate. But fair warning: for anyone already well-accustomed to Korean food, Danji will be seen more as a cursory showcase that’ll leave you craving more. 


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