3829 Main Street. Culver City, CA
Eating Korean BBQ can be a tad confusing. Not to mention, it’s tricky to navigate the multitude of restaurants in Koreatown. Which are the best? How do I order? How much meat can I stuff in my face without needing to unbutton my pants? Uh oh. Did the waiter just see me unbutton my pants!?
You see? It’s a tricky thing.
Should you be brave and head out on your own, you’ll likely be perplexed by the varying little side dishes or banchan which arrive without fanfare. You might even be overwhelmed and wondering how to order from the mostly meat dense menu. If you’ve managed to decipher how and how much to order, you are rewarded with specialty cuts of raw meat which are cooked table-side (by you or your waiter) on built-in table grills. Also, Korean BBQ is best with a gang of pals for maximum sampling, so if you are rolling solo or with just one other friend, you’re likely kicking yourself. Too much food, not enough belly space. Indeed a problem.
But wait, there’s a Korean BBQ that is different… It’s elevated, yet too complicated. The menu is simple, straightforward and uncluttered. The pictures actually look like the food that comes out to your table – so you know exactly what you are getting, and the portions are just right.
You’re not in Koreatown – you’re in Culver City now.
Hanjip is the first partnership between chef Chris Oh (Seoul Sausage) and restauranteurs Stephane Bombet (Faith and Flower, Terrine, Viviane) and François Renaud (Terrine, Viviane). It seeks to bridge the gap between foodies and (curious) casual diners. It’s accessible and hip, it’s modern and elevated. It’s new. It brings Korean BBQ to the west side in a classy-cool way.
Taking over the former “Lunch” location, Hanjip’s decor is modern and airy – the latter, an important detail since people be grilling up in here! An investment in quality vents ensures that diners don’t leave smelling like a chimney (my afro thanks you!). Co-owner Bombet explained to me they also have custom Korean-made, gold plated grills designed just for the restaurant. This special grill allows the meat to cook at a high heat without burning. Plus it looks fancy.
Their focus is on bringing in high quality cuts of meat, seafood, great banchan, and making Korean BBQ accessible for all. While Oh brings his authenticity, you’ll find dishes with glimmers of Bombet’s touch. Quality soju and sake are provided to help you chase your chew. Of course, only the best.
In addition to kurobuta pork and prime beef cuts, you’ll find some dolled up side dishes; Bone Marrow Corn Cheese, Uni Steamed Egg, Kimchi Fried Rice, and Carabineros Prawns. And if your wallet allows, try the $120 sous vide Tomahawk Steak with foie gras butter. It’s big enough to feed a family of four.
Oh is most excited about a dish not typically found in American-Korean restaurants, a dry rub Cumin Roasted Spiced Lamb which was inspired directly from his travels throughout Korea. A flavor bomb of Mediterranean spices, I enjoyed this dish, the bulgogi and the seafood pancake best.
If you’ve ever wanted to try Korean BBQ but were scared, or simply unsure how to go about it, pay Hanjip a visit and get your feet wet. Come for lunch even and get some bibimbap or soon tofu. I’m sure your first visit won’t be your last.
Thank you for inviting me try out your restaurant in your opening week. I look forward to seeing how you guys grow (and trying out your “secret menu!”)