ISSUE 008 - IL DISPACCIO DELLA CORSA

By matthew kornberg

Enjoy the ride.
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ELECTRIC ECLECTIC

CHATTING WITH KATIANNA AND JOHN HONG, HUSBAND AND WIFE CHEF DUO OF YANGBAN SOCIETY, A NEW KOREAN DELI AND ASIAN-INSPIRED SUPER IN THE ARTS DISTRICT.

 

What Inspired Yangban?

Yangban Society is something we've been dreaming up for years during our time working in fine dining institutions, but it wasn't until we relocated to LA in 2019 that things started to move forward. At first, John and I wanted to open a fine-dining Korean restaurant but as we started to develop this concept, it felt a little forced and eventually morphed into cooking Korean food that is authentic to us.

Yangban Society is born out of our experiences as Korean-Americans growing up in upstate New York and the Chicago areas, respectively. We both have vivid memories of visiting delis with our families, absorbing what we later realized is an experience that spans so many different cultures. A deli is a place where people come together, and we love that aspect; there's a universality and an approachability that makes it instantly recognizable regardless of the cuisine. Yangban Society is also truly autobiographical for us. It's a reflection of our individual and shared trajectories navigating the spaces between our Korean heritage and our experiences growing up in America.

 

What emotions/feelings do you hope for your diners to experience while at Yangban?

Yangban was designed to be many things at once and provide a broad spectrum of experiences with each visit- you can quickly grab some items to-go, meet with friends for a round of drinks or sit at a table and have a nice meal. We love that Yangban is a neighborhood spot, we want guests to come together and be part of the inclusive experience we are hoping to cultivate.

You worked closely with the Asian community to bring this shared vision to life - what do you aim to accomplish in this collaboration?

We curated our Super or in-house retail store with items from Asian American-owned companies or LA-based brands. It’s an awesome way for us to not only sell fun things but support other companies that we love and believe in. In Korea, supers are often family-owned corner stores. We have developed the Yangban super which will sell our in-house beverages, as well as, other fun things that you might find in a super ie: handmade Korean sponges, candles, incense, toothbrushes, etc.

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  Photo Credit: Stan Lee Photography

 

‘Yangban’ refers to the name of the ruling class of aristocrats from Korea’s last dynastic kingdom. They were responsible for maintaining cultural standards and elevating the morality of the society. We’re interpreting Yangban in a modern way, focusing on the act of empowering our community through artistic and creative pursuits. Honor and respect is a huge part of Asian culture and while Yangban is a bit of a creative shift from past generations- it’s our way of respecting and honoring our heritage while being true to ourselves.

You two have around 30 years of combined experience in fine dining. What drives you to keep working hard and long hours? Similarly, how do you stay creative and inspired? 

What motivated me as a young chef was the idea of living a really creative lifestyle. I was really spurred by working with other talented chefs, getting rare glimpses of people’s genius was thrilling. Now, there is a different level of cooking that excites me: food that is personal, cooking in a way that’s meaningful. For us, that means connecting with our Korean culture.

 

Kat had an early history with gymnastics which influenced much of her drive and discipline, what kind of physical activities are you both involved in today and what role do they play in your lives?

While we both love to exercise and work out, we, unfortunately, haven’t been able to find the time throughout the opening. Leading up to the opening we were enjoying high intensity interval training.

John also grew up passionate about sports, especially basketball. We both enjoy being active and physical. Staying in shape definitely helps with the long days on your feet at the restaurant too!

 

Yangban Society

712 S Santa Fe Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90021

@yangbanla

@katiannahong

@johnmhong

 

 

Take the Bridge: The coolest underground foot race on bridges all across America is back in LA for a women's race on the 10th – grab your spot before it’s too late!

Golden Sunnies: District Vision partners up with our good buds over at Golden Saddle Cyclery for a rad pair of shades with gradient lenses designed for use on long rides from sun up to sun down.

Raising the Bar: The unusual and inspiring story about following your passion, the freedom to create, sustaining a business over the long haul, and living responsibly in your community and on the earth. Raising the Bar chronicles Clif Bar's ascent from a homemade energy bar to a $100 million phenomenon.

 

 

 

 

 

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