Alex Thao (Rama) has created a new Asian concept that recently popped up on 4th Avenue, in the former Bolilo Torta space just up the street from the restaurateur's other project, Lucky Liu's, which opened earlier this year.
Thao's the consultant on SAJA Korean Kitchen, which soft launched last weekend and is currently open for lunch and dinner daily, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 5 to 10 p.m.
The 2,200-square-foot space and patio is largely unchanged, though upgrades include new flooring, lighting and furniture. In the exhibition kitchen is Jason Velasquez, who most recently chef'ed at the now-shutted Katsuya.
Thao ate his way from New York to Los Angeles to research SAJA's menu, which he says is based on traditional Korean cuisine with some lighter touches, which include a brown rice option for their bibimbap bowls that come in hot stone pots topped with various proteins. There's also soondubu, or tofu-based stew, Korean short ribs or spicy pork belly, noodles and gimbab, rice rolls with different fillings. Banchan, an assortment of sides, will rotate frequently and come free with any order.
To go with their beer, wine, sake and soju-based cocktails, including the basil and lemon-infused Gangnam Style, are savory small plates that range from chicken wings fried Korean-style, vegetarian or seafood pancakes served with citrus soy and Korean "tacos" - bulgogi, spicy pork, crispy chicken or tofu stuffed into a steamed bun or lettuce wrap.
· SAJA Korean Kitchen [Official Site]
· All Eater Inside Coverage [~ESD~]