New York eatery Hanjan, run by Korean-American chef Hooni Kim, placed fifth on a list of the top 10 restaurants of 2013 in the Big Apple by the New York Times on Wednesday. Hanjan captivated New Yorkers' tastes with its traditional Korean sauces.
Kim, who also runs Danji, another popular Korean restaurant in the city, opened Hanjan near Korea Town in Manhattan last December. Danji became the first Korean restaurant around the world to receive a star rating by the prestigious Michelin Guide in 2011.
The New York Times wrote, "For traditional Korean food, the place to go is the far eastern reaches of Flushing, Queens. But for delicious modern interpretations of the cuisine, nothing comes close to Hooni Kim's two packed, casual pubs." It recommended Hanjan's specialty pajeon, or green-onion pancake fried with chives and seafood.
The 41-year-old chef is a lover of traditional Korean sauces like doenjang (soybean paste), soy sauce and gochujang (red pepper paste).
"If you use proper doenjang, which is made in the traditional way through aging and fermentation, food can taste great without any special sauce or cooking," he said.
Kim uses sauces that are made in a mountain village in Korea. In July, he invited 44 foreign gourmands to his restaurant to serve Korean dishes based strongly on the use of doenjang, gochujang and soy sauce.
As Hanjan became popular, celebrities like former U.S. President Bill Clinton's daughter Chelsea Clinton and her husband, as well as actresses Drew Barrymore and Natalie Portman visited the restaurant.
Sushi Nakazawa topped the daily paper's list, followed by seafood restaurant Carbone, American eatery Betony and Uncle Boons, which specializes in Thai cuisine.