The restaurant group behind the now-closed Kinn in Koreatown (also Hanchic and Chimmelier) is moving fast to make the best of the empty restaurant space. Partners Dong Kyuk Lee, Kevin Son, and Jeff Jun are opening Jilli inside Kinn’s Sixth Street dining room tonight, January 18, serving modern Korean drinking food. (Chef Ki Kim’s reasonably priced tasting menu restaurant Kinn closed due to multiple factors, including the chef’s burnout, in late 2023.) With a name that means “the way, the truth,” Jilli will serve fun booze-friendly dishes with Korean flavors to soak up soju, makgeoli, natural wine, and craft beer in a minimalist dining room.
The list of small bites includes gimbap filled with squid, kimchi, and fish cake; tuna mayo with crackers; a wedge salad with kimchi dressing; and honey butter chips, a homemade version of the popular convenience store snack. On the casual bites menu is a Momofuku-inspired chicken thigh-filled bao; kimchi-cherry tomato bruschetta; shrimp toast; and fried rice cakes with sweet gochujang sauce. Fans of Chimmelier will find three flavors of wings: honey butter, sweet-spicy “yang-yum,” and dry-seasoned original. Tables can also share orders of chicken curry katsu, kimchi bacon rigatoni with vodka sauce, gochujang peanut noodles, and chicken nurungi, the very browned rice at the bottom of the rice cooker.
Though the drinks will veer more approachable than Kinn’s list, the restaurant group’s affinity for natural wines and hipper booze could make for some interesting Korean drinking food and beverage pairings. Sicilian Biddizza skin contact orange wine or Staffelter Hof “Paradies” riesling gives a fresh, punchy acidic sipper with sweet-spicy flavors. There’s also classic Terra Korean lager and Chamisul fresh that is served at every bar in Koreatown. In between cheese curd bites, imbibe on hazy IPA, craft Angma makgeoli, or Won Mae maesil-ju, a plum liqueur that dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty.
While the recipe for playful, easy Korean drinking food with soju and beer is nothing new in Los Angeles, the Chimmelier team takes cues from influential places in Seoul and New York City to bring this younger vibe to Koreatown. In a few weeks, Jilli will serve Chimmelier’s Instagram-popular fried chicken during the day.
Jilli is open Wednesday to Sunday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at 3905 W. Sixth Street, Los Angeles, CA 90020.