A generation of Asian-American chefs is coming into its own, reinterpreting the flavors and traditional cooking techniques that their immigrant parents brought them up with. At places like Hanjip, you can get a window into this new and evolving contemporary Asian cuisine.
Given the group of young chefs behind the culinary movement, it’s not so surprising that Culver City, with its vibrant downtown food scene, is where Hanjip’s co-founders Stephane Bombet and Chef Chris Oh decided to seed their latest venture instead of Koreatown. Hanjip means “one house” in Korean and was chosen for the restaurant’s name to reflect the bridging of eastern and western culinary traditions.
The menu at Hanjip is also a clue that this is not your average mom-and-pop Koreatown hole-in-the wall joint. Sure, you’ll find galbi, bulgogi and samgyeopsal on the menu, but LA Times food critic Jonathan Gold says some of the best things to order are the less traditional dishes. Ballers might opt for the “blingy” $150 dinosaur bone-in tomahawk steak cooked on that gold-plated grill you’ve probably seen photos of on Instagram. But Jonathan prefers the slightly aged, marbled rib-eye. He says it’s more steakhouse than Korean barbecue and is an excellent cut of meat that fares well when cooked slowly over a low-flame gas grill. Enjoy it with or without the soy sauce and scallion dipping sauce.
There are other more traditional Korean dishes that also get the gold treatment at Hanjip like the ttukbaegi gyeranjjim — soft, steamed eggs served in a stone pot — that Chef Oh garnishes with thick licks of cool, sweet uni, briney bursts of salmon roe and crunchy Japanese furikake. Then there’s Oh’s take on the late night Korean bar food staple “corn cheese.” It is ordinarily just what it sounds like: a glob of stringy cheese melted into canned corn. At Hanjip, fresh sautéed corn gets seasoned with herbs, parmesan cheese, bonito flakes and a giant roasted marrow bone. Think we’re kidding? We’re not. See for yourself: that’s one giant roasted marrow bone.
To soak up the soju, fans of Chef Oh’s Seoul Sausage Company can also score favorite menu items like the bulgogi poutine: a tasty mess of curly fries, bonito-flavored aioli, bulgogi beef and pickled red onions. Or try the chicharrones with kimchi aioli and the steamed pork buns with gochujang glaze. Because we wouldn’t want you to end your night on a dry note, close out your tab with the “Watermelon Soju,” a hollowed-out watermelon full of watermelon balls. Pour in a bottle of soju, sprinkle fizzy Pop Rocks and crispy Fruity Pebbles and…voilà! It’s a party in your mouth.
Recommendations: Jonathan likes the rib-eye steak, the uni and steamed egg with salmon roe, the bone marrow corn cheese, the chicharrones, the bulgogi poutine and the “watermelon soju.”
Location: 3829 Main Street, Culver City, CA 90232 | (323) 720-8804