Any time a new restaurant opens in Culver City that isn’t another gastropub proud of themselves for making brussels sprouts taste good (spoiler alert: it’s bacon), we find ourselves grateful. But a trendy Korean BBQ restaurant that’s serving some of the best (and only) Korean BBQ on the Westside? Excitement is an understatement.
Across the board, Hanjip is doing things differently. And that starts with the look of the place – it’s decorated with brash black and white artwork that looks like the cocaine-fueled NYC in Wolf of Wall Street or Derek Zoolander’s bedroom blueprint of choice. The space is casual, but with a stylish undertone that says K-BBQ deserves to be recognized and enjoyed as serious innovative cuisine. Hint: it does.
This isn’t to say Hanjip is reinventing the wheel, though. In the choices of meat cuts, you’ll find all the great standards you’d get in K-town (bulgogi, ribeye, pork belly, short rib). It’s the rest of the menu, full of inventive dishes that meld Korean tradition, contemporary techniques, and fancy ingredients to great results. Steamed egg casserole topped with uni and salmon roe? Cheese corn with a roast bone marrow? $120 hulking tomahawk steak topped with foie gras butter that wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of The Flintstones? Welcome to the future, Angelenos.
Some might say Hanjip runs a tad pricey, and to that we say, bring a crowd. This is Korean BBQ, not Subway – the more friends the better. In fact, you could roll in here with two to three people, order one of the large combo meals, and leave stuffed, having spent 30-40 bucks per person for a truly majestic meal.
Fair warning: Hanjip isn’t housed in a particularly large space and is mobbed on weekends and at dinner most nights of the week. If you don’t make a reservation, it’s very likely you’re going to have to wait, but luckily you’re in the heart of downtown Culver. So pick the nearest gastropub for you and the #squad and post up until your new age Korean quest begins.
Just don’t fill up on those damn brussels sprouts.
Shaved parmesan and bonito flakes atop corn kernels would have been enough. But there’s something truly special about the flavors when scooping the marrow out of the halved roasted bone into the corn and mixing it all up. We’ll spare you any obnoxious hyperbole and just tell you straight up, this is tasty.
Served in a lunchbox tin, the kimchi rice fried in brown butter and topped with a runny poached egg is simple, but particularly worthy of your attention.
Fluffier and less greasy than any pajeon we’ve ever had, this eggy pancake is packed to the brim with scallops, shrimp, and scallions. Get it.
You can’t really go wrong with most of the beef options, but marinated short rib is the standard by which we judge Korean BBQ spots. Hanjip’s marvelous galbi is thicker than you’ll find elsewhere and darkened with a marinade that isn’t too sweet, so it enhances rather than distracts from the flavor of the meat.
Skinny slices of marbled prime beef. The brisket is terrific, particularly if you dab it with the fermented bean paste (ssamjang) after pulling it off the grill.
If you’re gonna get a plate of pork for the grill here, this is the one. The pork belly is tasty, but the shoulder is the stunner of the oink options.
We didn’t go in expecting to be wowed by the bubbling pot of spicy tofu stew on their lunch menu, but it was tremendous. Packed to the gills (pun alert) with seafood, this bright red stew enjoyed with a bowl of rice is both intense and comforting.
You’ll find variations of these little dishes of assorted appetizers at every Korean restaurant. Here they’re across the board excellent, particularly the acorn jelly, house-made kimchi, and pickled and splintered whole cucumber.
With so many bold dishes on the table, this subtly flavored egg soufflé topped with sea urchin didn’t blow our minds. But it was pretty to look at, which always means something in this town.