Tucked in the back of East Hollywood’s Union Discount Swampmeet between “designer” bag stores and ladies selling discount clothing is where you’ll find Nabi, a fast-casual Korean food restaurant.
Helmed by none other than Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee, a James Beard award nominee and cookbook author of two of the seminal Korean cookbooks, you can expect a seasonal menu of Korean traditional dishes as well as some unique experimental dishes. Hae-Jin Lee, a LA Times Contributor, restaurant reviewer, and writer of both Korean and Mexican cookbooks, wanted to bring her love and passion for Korean food to the public by opening her first restaurant.
Nabi, which means butterfly in Korean, offers customizable bibimpap bowls, kimchi fried rice, and ddeokbokgi, spicy rice cakes. For the more adventurous, experimental dishes like kimchi grilled cheese sandwiches and Korean tortas that combine the best of both Korean and Mexican flavors are a real treat.
Classic Bibimpap- base of white rice, seasoned beef, carrots, spinach, green onion, sprouts, eggplant, mountain vegetable, zucchini. Topped off with a fried egg and served with spicy gochujang sauce on the side. I love bibimpap, and this was done really well. Beef was tender and seasoned perfectly, and all the vegetables were delicious!
Kimchi Grilled CheeseThick slices of butter-toasted Texas bread stuffed with melted cheddar cheese and chopped kimchi. Chef Cecilia said she tested this sandwich over 10 times with different bread and cheeses until she got the perfect match, and boy did she?! I LOVED this sandwich so much! The Texas bread perfectly toasted, and the kimchi flavor was present and for me surprisingly pleasant. Don’t get me wrong, I love kimchi I was just unsure how it would mix with cheese, but Chef Cecilia’s choice of cheddar cheese was perfect.
Korean Torta- PorkKorean BBQ pork on a butter toasted bolillo with slices of cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, and gochujang mayo. Another win for me with the bread, which chef picks up fresh every morning! The flavors in this torta where amazing! I loved how the pork just absorbed all that Korean bbq flavor and the gochujang mayo is a winner!
Each month at Nabi, there will be a food fight where diners can vote between two dishes they’d like to see on the menu permanently. This month’s battle took place between Kimchi Fried Rice and Kimchi Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. The kimchi grilled cheese sandwiches won, but Cecilia kindly still offers the kimchi fried rice on her “secret menu”.
Korean food with bold flavors and experimental cuisine all at an affordable price, Nabi’s doors are open everyday of the week except for Tuesday. They offer delivery through Grubhub and Postmates, as well as catering.
Where: 4632 Santa Monica Blvd, Suite 16 Los Angeles, CA 90029
Phone: (323) 986-0107
Hours: Everyday of the week 11:00 AM- 7:00 PM. Closed Tuesdays