Gaslamp's Monkey King Reopens Revived After Refresh

December 7, 2017

Downtown San Diego's Monkey King restaurant, bar, and lounge has reopened with an exciting new chef after an ownership restructure and brief kitchen remodel, and the Gaslamp hotspot is ready to unveil its new menu of Pan-Asian cuisine.

Inspired by the popular late 1800s illegal lottery house of the same name and location, Monkey King recently closed after the previous owners were bought out by two of the head investors. The entire kitchen staff was replaced, the kitchen was completely gutted, and a whole new back-of-the-house team was brought in, including the addition of Executive Chef Brendan Mica, who previously served as chef de cuisine at The Standard High Line in Manhattan and has worked in kitchens around the world.

Monkey King now offers a new modern Chinese meets Asian-fusion menu composed of shareable items such as Drunken Lobster Hong Kong style - a whole 1-pound lobster served with grilled scallions and a classic red chili sauce. The casual restaurant also serves traditional house made dim sum, and caters to those less eager to share with dishes like Peking Duck Chow Fun and a 12-ounce Prime NY Strip served with a black pepper Sichuan sauce. 

"I have always had a love for Asian cuisine, its balance, complexity and deep flavor profiles," said Mica. "The Monkey King menu will have no tricks. We’re crafting recipes inspired by true Chinese cooking, driven by ingredients from our local farming community."

Patrons can also indulge in the restaurant’s cocktail menu, which marries handcrafted cocktails with an Asian focus while also serving up large format drinks in punch bowls such as the Scorpion King - vodka, gin, light and dark rum, and a medley of fresh juices. There is also a variety of beers on tap and in bottles, as well as a selection of Sake and wine. 

Monkey King restaurant pays homage to the Gaslamp Quarter's Chinatown and its Prohibition-era past. In the late 1800s, the most influential man in San Diego's Chinatown, Tom Ah Quin, ran Monkey King, an illegal lottery house where politicians and San Diego's elite could go to dine, drink and gamble late into the night. 

The restaurant features a new outdoor double patio, open-air lounge, and an authentic dim sum table imported from China that seats up to eight people. Its exposed brick and garden walls surrounded by modern gold elements, and a butterfly motif, create a modern and eclectic, yet warm, atmosphere.

"Just like the Monkey King of old, this restaurant will be the most happening destination to enjoy food, drinks, and conversation into the late evening hours - with a lively, contemporary vibe," said co-owner Matt Gerold.

Monkey King is open daily from 11am to 2am, with the dining menu available until midnight on weekdays and 2am on weekends. For more information, visit, call 619.359.8897, and check out the menus below.