In this latest installment of K-Town, host Matthew Kang visits Gaja, a dark, punk rock cocktail bar in East Atlanta Village. Founded by three siblings who grew up in Atlanta, the evening destination caters to locals craving easygoing bar food. Kang chats with owners Danny and Jennifer Song while sipping on some of the cocktails — which incorporate Korean ingredients like persimmons, sweet red beans, and gochugaru — and sampling dishes like grilled corn cheese on a cob, deep-fried hot dog kimbap, and Asian pear-topped bossam. As Danny Song says of his family’s approach: “We didn’t want to stray too far from this traditional Korean food, but us all being from the South, we all have that influence.”
It’s all fun and delicious, especially when Kang realizes Gaja is essentially the restaurant he daydreamed about opening 10 years ago, when he was still in college. “It’s basically this menu: Korean bar food that’s made a little bit more special and familiar for non-Koreans,” Kang says.