Danjee is tucked down the alley next to George St cinemas, in a gorgeous raw brick building. Unlike most Korean restaurants, there is outdoor seating for people who want to grill their own meats, and indoor seating for everyone else – so you don't have to smell like BBQ if you only want to order from the kitchen.
Danjee is gently lit and modern inside, with quiet contemporary music piping around the restaurant. Delicious smoky smells waft out of the open kitchen by the entrance. A small bar lined with Danjee's wine selection sits halfway between the entrance area and the "upstairs" dining area. Again, Danjee stands out from other Korean restaurants by boasting a reputation for having a wide range of wines from around the world.
We opt for the Korean alcohol, though – a clay jar of makgeolli ($8), and a chilled bottle of Good Day soju ($13). The makgeolli is more generous than expected, and very easy to drink from the small bowls it's served in. It's a popular Korean rice alcohol that tastes fairly sweet and a little fizzy, while the soju is sharper and similar in taste to Japanese sake or Chinese baijiu. We did have a little trouble deciding on the soju because the names were unfamiliar, but a quick Google search helped us figure out the one we liked the sound of.
The complimentary banchan arrive at the same time as the drinks. It's not a Korean meal without a handful of small side dishes, each of them very tasty and appetite-stimulating. We got cabbage kimchi, tofu, radish in vinegar, potatoes glazed in soy sauce, and slices of radish with chili peppers.
Our kimchi jjigae (stew) ($15) was served bubbling in a sizzling pot. It's essentially a kimchi and pork stew, with the addition of thin rice cakes. The stew is perfect for anyone who loves kimchi, and it packs a fair punch – so it's fortunate that it's served with a bowl of rice that seems to be cooked with beans. Even after we polished off the rice, we were still scooping up the stew to eat on its own.
The slow cooked oxtail "share dish" ($35) is also a bit of a stew. It comes in a large pot on a stand, with a candle lit under it to help keep the sauce warm. It's sticky with collagen (which is great for your skin), and as sweet as it is savoury. There are more rice cakes in this dish, along with a helping of bean sprouts. The meat is extremely tender and falls right off the bone. My dinner partner liked this one so much that he abandoned his table manners and started gnawing on the bones to get all of the meat off them.
Between the banchan, the stew and the beef, we were both happily stuffed – and for a cool $71, no less. Considering the understated but gorgeous setting and the quality of the food, Danjee was more than worth the price.