Saja Kitchen Opens in Downtown San Diego | Vibrant Korean Eatery Offers Diverse and Approachable Fare

July 16, 2014

Saja Kitchen, the new Korean bistro concept by restaurant consultant Alex Thao, is now open in the former Bolillo Tortas space,  bringing the dynamic flavors of Korea to Downtown San Diego. Saja Kitchen is Thaoʼs third Asian eatery, along with Rama Thai and Lucky Liuʼs, offering diverse and traditional Asian flavors in a hip and welcoming atmosphere.

“The development of Saja came after we noticed that Downtown San Diego was lacking a good variety of dining options,” says Alex Thao. “There were so many steakhouses, Italian, seafood, pubs, Mexican, burger joints, and taverns. We sought to develop a Korean restaurant that serves authentic dishes and small plates using modern cooking techniques.”

Sajaʼs menu (copied below) was created with Downtown San Diegoʼs denizens in mind, from several smaller sharable plates to more traditional cuisine—guests will be delighted by the range and authenticity of the Korean bistroʼs menu. A dozen small plates including classic Korean pancakes with green tea salt and citrus soy sauce; Bulgogi, spicy pork or crispy chicken Korean Tacos are served in either butter leaf lettuce or bao buns; and Spicy Tuna Tar Tar served over seasoned crispy rice cake with pickled jalapeno provide an introduction to the tasty offerings.

The larger plates are anchored by an array of familiar, yet friendly Korean staples, like Soondubu (traditional soft tofu stew), Bulgogi (short ribs), and Bibimap Bowls cooked and served in hot traditional clay Korean-style pots, filled with rice, meat, veggies and an egg. Seasonal dishes will include Gimbap Rolls or Korean-style sushi and Korean ramen. Saja diners will also get to sample several Banchan. or Korean side dishes like kimchi, pickled radish and sweet omelet. Masterfully executing the bright and energetic flavors is Executive Chef Jason Velasquez, formerly of Katsuya San Diego.

To complement the Korean fare, a Soju and sake bar offers traditional bottle service allowing guests the option of leaving the unfinished bottle to enjoy on a future visit. Creative Soju-based cocktails by mixologist Tony Coxum, who honed his libation skills at Searsucker, will include the So Ju Want Me a refreshing mix of watermelon, jalapeno, lemon, sugar and Soju, and the Tae Kwon Do a cucumber, mint, honey, lime and Soju cocktail adding to the festive Downtown location. A refined selection of beers includes Hite, the Korean beer, as well as Hitachino Red Rice and local San Diego brews.

Southern California-based Design Opera (TJ Oyster Bar, Pappalecco Cafe), created the warm and minimalist space including an open-exhibition kitchen with 10 chef-counter seats allowing guests to see and hear the energy. The 2,200-foot space includes a modern basket weave wall instillation in the main dining area, and a patio along 4th Avenue to allow the vigor of the restaurant to echo that of the city.

Saja Kitchen is located at 417 4th Avenue in downtown San Diego and is open for lunch Monday-Saturday from 11:30am-3pm and daily for dinner from 5-10pm. For more information, visit and check out the menu below.
Saja on Urbanspoon