The Power of Twitter

I know I promised to share the details from my meal at Danji last weekend. The story starts off with Twitter…

Four days before my trip, I tried to make a reservation at Danji in Hell’s Kitchen. I called about three times over the course of two hours but each time, no one picked up and it went straight to voicemail. I didn’t feel like leaving a message for someone to call me back because I wanted an instant answer. I gave up and tweeted: “Tried to make a reservation at Danji but they refuse to pick up the phone. Is this a good business tactic?”

I just left it at that and proceeded to make plans for my weekend eating adventures.

On Friday, on the bus to the airport, I saw that the Chef and owner, Hooni Kim, had responded to my tweet a few hours after I had tweeted. (I’m new to twitter so I’m learning how it all works still!) He said that he had been on the phone with a reporter from Seoul so couldn’t pick up the phone but that I should call again.

I couldn’t believe it!  I didn’t realize that anyone would pay attention to any of my tweets.

I tried asking a couple of friends in town if they wanted to go with me on Saturday night but all of them had plans or were already out of town. So I decided to just go by myself.

I met my editor from Hyphen Magazine (we are working on an article on kimchi, which will be published early next year) in Dumbo. When I told her my plans for dinner,  she was immediately on board. She quickly invited her friend who started up Toki Underground in D.C. and I got in touch with Kheedim Oh (Mama O’s Kimchi) to see if he wanted to try the restaurant as well. It was very short notice but everyone said YES!

The place was full when we arrived but because it was still snowing, there wasn’t much of a wait. (I couldn’t take any photos inside the restaurant because the lighting was so dim. I noticed that this was the theme in most places I went to over the weekend.)

Highlights: menus were stored in little drawers under the table for each seat. The front: traditional–the back: modern

We ordered dishes from both the traditional and modern sides of the menu.

Traditional: Scallion and Korean pepper pancake, japchae, boodae jjigae (DMZ stew), and the trio of kimchi.

Modern: Tofu with ginger scallion dressing, crispy calamari, spicy Korean fire chicken wings, bulgogi sliders, spicy pork belly sliders, and kimchi, bacon, chorizo “paella” with a fried egg on top.

At first we ordered about 5 dishes but was encouraged to order 3-4 dishes per person. We looked around and saw that some of the portions looked quite big so we settled with 10.

The group’s favorite: the tofu (the texture and the ginger scallion dressing was wonderful) and Korean fire chicken wings (no elaboration needed!)

The group’s least favorite: japchae (the noodles were overcooked, limp, and soggy. It was also a bit too sweet.)

The side order of kimchi took awhile to arrive and we all kept on exclaiming: “this would be so much better with kimchi!” When the kimchi arrived almost at the end of our meal we devoured it!

We also received a plate of the Bossam (braised pork, scallion, dehydrated daikon kimchi cabbage wrap) from the Chef, which was delicious! My favorite part was the dehydrated daikon kimchi. It was crunchy and slightly tangy.

Verdict: The overall meal was great.  However,  as N observed “where are the vegetables?” I liked her idea of a a side of 4 different types of banchan that could be ordered to balance out the rich flavors.

But what was more important than the food was the structure of the meal. Sharing Korean tapas was ideal for our group because it quickly made us bond over the food.

-Kheedim portioned out the DMZ stew for each of us, ladling out perfect ratios of soup and noodles.
-Our conversations seamlessly interweaved our impressions and thoughts about the dish, revealing our personal preferences and characteristics.

After the meal, we all dispersed into the cold and slushy night with a jar of Mama O’s kimchi. If you want to make new connections and new friends be sure to try Korean tapas!


Bloomberg and Mama O’s Kimchi

Do you like artisanal kimchi? Then you would like Mama O’s.

I’ve been following Mama O’s Kimchi brand for the past year. It’s made by Kheedim Oh, a kimchimonger by day, DJ by night. You can usually catch him at Lucky Strike (Not the bowling alley) in soho on the weekends.

On Saturday, I met up with Kheedim with a couple of other friends and shared a meal at Danji in Hell’s Kitchen. (I’ll share more details in a later post)

He told me that he attended the NYC Food Manufacturers Business Expo earlier in the week. Bloomberg gave a shout out to Mama O’s Kimchi as an example of a local business that is defining what NYC is best known for.

Kheedim produced this short clip where Bloomberg raps about Mama O’s!
Check it out:

Bloomberg raps about Mama O\’s Kimchi

Inspired to get a jar? You can find it at Murray’s Cheese, Essex Market, and Marlow and Daughters.

For more info: Mama O\’s Kimchi

Kimchi Chocolate

What flavors and textures go well with chocolate?

Fruit, nuts, salt, wafers, pretzels, chile, wine, tea, coffee, spices, and herbs are some of the usual combinations. I personally like pink peppercorn and earl grey tea infused into my chocolate.

But what are your thoughts about pairing kimchi with chocolate?

I’ve seen Japanese tourists buy a bunch of these at the Inchon International Airport in Korea. I never ventured to buy a box for myself until this August because they scare me a bit. Can you even imagine what they would taste like? I seriously doubt the spicy, sour, garlicky, and fishy flavor profile of kimchi would go well with chocolate.

I totally dismissed them. … …  But then I got curious. Now aren’t you wondering about them too?

I tried buying a box at the airport but I was told that the line was discontinued but may return in the near future. The lack of availability made me want to try them more!

According to the vendor, the chocolates are filled with a creamy kimchi filling (!) that didn’t have an overwhelming kimchi flavor.

If I were able to secure a box, would you try them with me?

Tomorrow, I’ll share my thoughts on another box of chocolates.
This time I will have tasted it so expect better descriptions and details!