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New York restaurateur Hooni Kim opens small Banchan shop in Long Island City, Queens

Every two weeks, Huni Kim is elbow-deep in vermillion kimchi seasoning. The chef and owner of the acclaimed Danji and now-closed Hanjan has taken everything at the heart of traditional Korean cuisine — all shareable banchans such as barbecued meats, seasoned vegetables and fermented kimchi — and He packaged them as stand-alone take-out items in his store.Little Banchan Shop, a new venture located at 5-28 49th Street between 5th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City. The doors were opened at 11am on Saturday, and afternoon visitors, including YouTube cooking guru Maangchi of Fame, found the racks wiped clean.

Kim isn’t the first business owner to specialize in banchan in a city populated by Korean immigrants since the 1980s. But the sophisticated Little His Banchan Shop and his Meju His Market, which has eight tables inside and a tasting menu only, are set to open in September. 9 years ago. As for his 70-chan catalog, it’s all about the ingredients. From organic, gluten-free basic seasoning ingredients that he imports directly from farms in South Korea, to high-quality, hormone- and preservative-free meats that are humanely raised. Some of the top manufacturers in the industry.

A dozen or so customers are cramming into the store, examining the items on the shelves.

Saturday morning, locals barged in.
James Song/Little Banchan Shop

On a quiet street in Long Island City, just a few hundred feet from Casa Enrique, a round white sign in whimsical childlike script reads ‘Little Banchan Shop’. The inside is bright and open. On the open refrigerated shelves, colorful banchan pouches and bottles are neatly arranged along the left and right walls. A large window in the back wall looks into the production kitchen where the cook is draining watercress.

“There is banchan in every Korean home refrigerator,” he says. “So for us, if you have hot rice, it’s a meal.” Banchan can last for days, sometimes months, and Koreans mix and match dozens or more of the dishes they have at home. He wants to share the homely side of Korean cuisine with people who usually find it in restaurants. I thought it would be possible for New Yorkers who don’t have banchan shops to enjoy Korean food at home, even though there is a sizeable Korean population. He saved the residents of western Queens from trekking to Flushing.

To give a more nuanced view of kimchi consumption at home, the refrigerated kimchi section of Little Banchan Shop is divided into two categories: aged and aged. His staff first acquired a stockpile of 150 pounds of organic Norwich Meadows Farm Napa cabbage one to six weeks in advance, depending on temperature and humidity. Mature kimchi, which is typically used in cooking, remains fermented longer in Little Banchan Shop’s walk-in kimchi refrigerator, allowing naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria to develop kimchi with a deeper, funkier flavor. .

Aside from kimchi, the basis of Korean seasonings are three fermented jangs: daengjang (soybean paste), ganjang (soy sauce), and gochujang. For nearly every banchan, Mr. Kim does the rare feat of importing organic jang directly from Jukjangyong, a farm on the east coast of South Korea.

“The flavors are so deep,” he says. The texture is also richer than mass-produced products.

Banchan pouches are neatly arranged on the shelf.

The small bag contains spinach, radish, and cuttlefish banchan.
James Song/Little Banchan Shop

Used in several combinations, Jean sparks the umami flavors of his sautéed zucchini rounds, sautéed anchovies, moo marengi, and crunchy, spicy radishes infused with his own flair. ”

At the barbecue corner using meat from D’Artagnan, Deburagga, and Nimman Ranch, we offer popular marinated meat and set meals that you can make at home, such as bulgogi and short ribs. Meat also enhances the soup. In winter, Kim serves a cup of milky solleongtang soup that has been simmered for 30 hours.

The cook sits on top of a pot of black beans.

The cook sits on top of a pot of black beans.
James Song/Little Banchan Shop

Korean food in New York has come a long way since Kim opened Danji in 2010. One of New York’s first chef-owned Korean restaurants, Kim has applied the skills from Daniel to Korean cuisine, serving delightfully shareable plates and gateway his dishes. Like bulgogi sliders — “Back then, ‘Bulgogi? What the hell?'” he says.

Meanwhile, in South Korean residential areas such as Flushing and Fort Lee, shops such as Hansol and supermarkets such as Hanyang and Hmart were selling banchan hit products. As the shelves of Food Emporium and Whole Foods began to fill up with kimchi, and white-dominated Michelin and James Beard institutions began to take notice of Korean cuisine, the owner of Dokebi and Little Dokebi decided to bring his kimchi to Greenpoint in 2015. launched his market. In 2021, Kate Cook, a regular on his circuit at Smorgasburg and Farmers His Market, remodeled his Bay His Ridge storefront into Kimchi His Cook, serving small batches of kimchi and other goodies.

Kim now joins this small group of modern banchan shop owners with his own touch.

Chef stirring a large pot with a spatula.

Chef and owner Hooni Kim will be cooking and managing food at his new venture seven days a week.
James Song/Little Banchan Shop

Little Banchan Shop is open daily from 8am to 9pm Monday to Saturday and 9am to 8pm on Sunday.