Hanjip is a new restaurant in Culver City offering Korean BBQ. Bring a group of friends who aren't high maintenance and enjoy an evening cooking dinner over personal grills at each table.
My brother and his two nearly teen kids were in town for Spring Break recently. We did the requisite beach outings and family gatherings and grabbed meals here and there. On the last night of their trip, I was told to pick a restaurant for us all to eat. Hmmm, kid-friendly isn't exactly in my wheelhouse and the words Chuck E Cheese are not sounds I ever want to utter. Then it came to me, kids like interactive food as much as I do. That settled it, we'd go to the new Korean BBQ restaurant that just opened in Culver City, Hanjip.
Hanjip is in downtown Culver City, next door to the Wallace. They have tables with grills in the middle and fans overhead so no one leaves smelling like you do after you visit Benihana.
Upon sitting, we were greeted with an array of banchan, small complimentary Korean dishes that start your meal. There was kimchi, dried squid, pickled tomatoes and onion, sesame broccoli, cabbage salad, and a few other small dishes to whet our appetite while we decided on our order.
Our waitress couldn't have been more helpful with ordering and cooking. We had 6 in our group and tried 3 different meats including the boneless short rib, marinated pork shoulder and bulgogi. The bulgogi was the family favorite. The marinated, thinly sliced rib eye cooked quickly and could stand on its own in the flavor department, but was further enhanced with some of the spicy Korean dipping sauces.
The pork needed more enhancements and took a little longer to cook. Luckily our gal was constantly checking on us to ensure we were never eating raw meat. She even cut our food with the sharpest scissors you've ever seen. The grills were swapped every time we got a new protein so the flavors, smells and smoke never got out of control.
There's a handful of sides like bone marrow corn cheese, chicharron and a seafood pancake that luckily wasn't too fishy, but also could have used a little boost in the flavor department.
Kimchi fried rice is a bit bolder with a brown butter sauce and egg on top that you break and allow to mingle with the rest of the ingredients. It's a good side with the meat, but quite mushy.
We tried one of the "chef's cuts" of baby octopus. They cook quickly and do a little dance when heated, so a kid and adult favorite. You do want to cook them longer than you think as crisp octopus is always a better choice over chewy.
Hanjip doesn't serve dessert, as is the norm for a Korean BBQ restaurant, but luckily Culver City has many ice cream and sorbet options like Cold Stone or Ugo, where my family headed for gelato and lemon sorbet.
Hanjip is a fun spot to take a crowd who isn't afraid of getting their hands dirty to do a little cooking. Beer, wine and soju-based cocktails are served. The check can creep up with add-ons and multiple beef selections, but when you're entertaining the family, call it priceless.
3829 Main St, Culver City, CA