Waltzing into a random Korean restaurant will not always pay off, but it did for me last week. DanJi, meaning “bowl” or “ceramic pottery” in Korean, is located on the right side of the Super G Mart shopping center off Market Street in east Greensboro.
Duk Chun and his wife Tae Kim bought the restaurant space from DaSaRang’s owner in 2016 and opened under the new name with their own menu in January of last year. The couple, who immigrated from Seoul, South Korea 15 and 6 years ago, respectively, decided to get into the restaurant industry after encountering faux Korean cuisine in the Triad.
“My wife doesn’t like when non-Koreans try to make our food and sell it as authentic Korean,” Chun said. “And so, we started it.”
Don’t be fooled, though — the signage out front still bears the name of the previous restaurant, but the menu is Kim’s unique vision and clear pictures next to menu descriptions make ordering stress-free, especially for those with no working knowledge of the Korean language or who are unfamiliar with the much of the cuisine.
DanJi offers a number of noteworthy appetizers but if you love omelets, order the seafood “pancake.” It’s a medley of octopus, shrimp, onion, green scallion shoots and carrot cooked in egg that comes with a brown dipping sauce, and it is delightful. Fried or steamed dumplings and squid tempura are always options, but it’s worth branching out from familiar staples with the ddukbok-gi, a saucer of spicy of rice cake, fish cake, scallion and egg. As with each appetizer, this vibrantly red dish is well portioned for sharing. DanJi even features a handful of shareable entrées like spicy, sweet and sour chicken and five-spice jok bal or bossam, as well as large-portioned grilled dishes like porkbelly and saeng galbi, grilled prime rib served with lettuce ssam.
Regardless of the order, patrons receive an assortment of four complimentary small dishes to start, like crunchy bean sprouts, spicy kimchi, seaweed, cooked potato wedges or fish cake.[pullquote]Learn more at danji-nc.com or visit at 4929 W Market St (GSO).[/pullquote]
Any connoisseur of traditional Korean cuisine will tell you that one way to judge a restaurant is by how well the kitchen prepares classic bibimbop: a heated ceramic bowl filled with a bed of white rice, scallion, cucumber, bean sprouts, carrot, mushrooms, spinach, yellow radish and a fried egg on top of the meat of choice (beef, pork, chicken or shrimp) with a sweet hot sauce on the side. I highly recommend Kim’s colorful rendering, which will remain hot for the slowest of eaters.
Other staples like ramen and a variety of cold noodles are available at reasonable prices considering quality and portion, and the owners maintain an interesting selection of Korean wines. Their corn and barley tea, similar in its earthiness to rice tea — is well worth a try, especially this time of year. Kim offers an abundance of spicy appetizers, stews, hot pots and entrées to clear out the sinuses or keep warm on the wintery days yet to come, too. The mildly spicy kimchi stew that comes with cubed pork, tofu, white kimchi and a side of perfectly sticky rice isn’t out of this world, but it’s a good choice if you’re looking for something simple.
Despite no shortage of vegetables and tofu, DanJi isn’t the most vegetarian-friendly venue and service can lag during peak dinner hours. It’s evident that Kim works quickly in the kitchen, though, and her husband is in the midst of hiring more waitstaff. The place could use an upgrade in décor, too. But DanJi isn’t where you go for an upscale, romantic dinner; it’s a place for piling into those orange-cushioned booths and decorating the table with as much savory, spicy Korean goodness as possible.