Experimental Korean Food by a James Beard Nominee and Korean Food Expert in an East Hollywood Swapmeet

March 3, 2017
New Korean Food restaurant highlighting both traditional and experimental korean food opens in East Hollywood, by none other than Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee.

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.

Traditions Bowl




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


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  • Karen @ Seasonal Cravings March 3, 2017 at 8:28 am

    I am loving that bowl of goodness with the fried egg on top. That is one of my favorite lunches to have at home when the kids are at school. Looks like this is a great spot to visit!

    • evseats March 3, 2017 at 7:24 pm

      Thanks Karen!

  • Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche March 3, 2017 at 8:29 am

    I can’t say I’m too familiar with Korean food, but YUM! That grilled cheese looks fantastic!

    • evseats March 3, 2017 at 7:23 pm

      One of my favorite cuisines for sure!

  • sue | theviewfromgreatisland March 3, 2017 at 8:35 am

    This looks AMAZING and I live close by ~ I’m heading over this weekend!

    • evseats March 3, 2017 at 7:23 pm

      That’s so awesome! I hope you enjoy it Sue 🙂

  • Mira March 3, 2017 at 8:36 am

    I’m in for anything with an runny egg yolk on top!

    • evseats March 3, 2017 at 7:22 pm

      I agree!

  • Garlic + Zest March 3, 2017 at 9:12 am

    This is reason number one to visit! Wish we had amazing Korean like that around here!

    • evseats March 3, 2017 at 7:22 pm

      Definitely worth a visit!!

  • Megan Wells March 3, 2017 at 10:05 am

    Why is all the good Korean food in LA?!!! So sad. I need to look up her cookbooks-I love experimenting with Korean food and have used kimchi in marinara sauce and pizza. I’ve got to try a grill cheese sandwich though! That sounds so good.

    • evseats March 3, 2017 at 7:21 pm

      I love kimchi on pizza too! And yes good Korean food can be hard to find sometimes so I appreciate Cecilia for sure!

  • Ali March 3, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    This looks so good! I love Korean food – now I really want to go to LA just to eat this food!

    • evseats March 3, 2017 at 7:19 pm

      Thanks Ali!

  • Patricia @ Grab a Plate March 4, 2017 at 8:05 am

    The drive from Phoenix to LA would be worth it for for these goodies! Everything looks amazing!

  • Krysten March 4, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    I haven’t heard of Nabi, but I am definitely going to go next time that I am in Hollywood! That kimchi grilled cheese is calling my name.

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