Welcome to the Arts District, Yangban Society. In a neighborhood that has become filled in recent years with restaurants at every level — from modern Brazilian at Caboco to the come-one-come-all community hub that is Detroit Vesey’s — owners Katianna and John Hong plan to stand out with bold colors, big Korean flavors, and a new kind of mixed dining that offers lunchtime staples, sit-down dinners, and snacks and merch to go. Los Angeles is ready.
The new Yangban Society sits in familiar territory at 712 S. Santa Fe Avenue. The building has been home to some other prominent projects over the years (most recently the nationally-acclaimed Bon Temps) and is now in good hands with the Hongs and branding firm Folklor, who together redesigned the space as an upstairs-downstairs multipurpose space to suit all needs. The airy ground floor, including a brick off-street alleyway patio, acts as a deli that pulls influences from Korean, Korean-American, and California influences, among others. That might mean grabbing a soy and garlic-heavy rotisserie chicken one day, or a plate of Asian pears with avocado and furikake the next — plus some buffalo milk soft-serve from Petaluma’s Double 8 Dairy, of course.
Communal seating is available inside at long tables and upstairs, where diners can lay out their spread with a group or dine solo. More robust dishes work anywhere, including the upstairs wooden banquettes, with options like galbi beef back ribs and a hearty pozole with kimchi and pork belly. At one end of the 5,000-square-foot restaurant, diners and passersby can also score take-home goods, drinks (including beer, wine, soju, and sake) and snacks from a separate space — noted by vibrant blue paint — called simply Yangban Super. The mini-mart will offer items like face masks and home goods too, plus branded merch, collaborations, and other one-off items. It’s all meant to flow seamlessly from one end of the restaurant to the other, with the Hongs cooking up front at the street, and tunes playing in the back at the market.
The vision for Yangban Society has been long in the offing for the Hongs, who have spent years wondering how best to represent themselves, their varied cultures, and their work in a place they could call their own. Both fine dining vets spent a career working side by side everywhere from Santa Monica’s Melisse to the heralded Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley. Katianna Hong rose from an upstate New York kid to become the restaurant’s first chef de cuisine (and the first CDC at a three-Michelin-starred restaurant anywhere in the United States), a role later taken on by John Hong once Katianna left to open sister project the Charter Oak. Now they call the Arts District home, and live just around the corner from the restaurant itself.
And so, the Hongs are ready to grow more deeply into the neighborhood they love, and the Arts District is ready for new life, new color, and new horizons in 2022. It’s a match made in marketplace, Korean deli, and dinner destination heaven. Yangban Society opens January 10 at 712 S. Santa Fe Avenue, with hours from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday, with an extension to 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights; the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.