The red neon sign near Gaja’s entrance simply reads, KOREAN FOOD. For some this label may conjure images of all-you-can-eat barbecue or steaming bowls of kimchi stew, but they would be wrong. A fitting subscript to the glowing sign might read, “Abandon all expectations, ye who enter here.” (Meagan Mastriani/Creative Loafing)
When I walked into Gaja I felt like I was walking into a strange underground scene that tried to keep quiet during the day but everyone “in the know”, well, knew about it. The door in the alley, the unsuspecting red neon sign, the tofu draped in American cheese… wait. Well it turns out I was right. This place has only recently put up a proper sign. So recently that when I got the assignment for this shoot, I thought I was at the wrong place because the place that I was going to didn’t have a fancy-shmancy sign.
The food photographed so beautifully in my spot tucked away in the corner of this basement Korean joint that I was immediately excited about the — sorry, I need to stop right here because I’ve forgotten to mention they have the best website of any place I’ve been. Well, best is relative but it’s certainly one of the most memorable.
Anyway, I was immediately excited about the photos of the food. The way the different colors in the hamburger mixed rice made it look like fun to eat. Which I guess is the whole point of my job?
The two dishes I ordered — that corn-cheese situation and something called hamburger mixed rice — are what I imagine Peter Pan would come up with if he was raised Korean, knew his way around a kitchen, and happened to be unapologetically hammered. (If the Lost Boys ate imaginary roasted tofu, they would almost certainly top it with American cheese like Suh apparently does at Gaja.)(Stephanie Dazey/Creative Loafing)
Everything about this shoot was enjoyable. Everything.