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KoJa Kitchen Gets a Brick-And-Mortar 

Wednesday, Oct 14 2015
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Beloved food truck KoJa Kitchen has finally nabbed its first permanent restaurant location in San Francisco, taking over the spot of a former nondescript coffee shop on Clement Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues.

For those unfamiliar, KoJa (which stands for "Korean Japanese") is a fairly established Asian fusion food truck, and a well-sought out option at Off the Grid. Its popular offerings include their signature kojas — "like a burger, but better" — which are made up of a protein (such as Korean BBQ short rib, Korean BBQ beef, and miso-coconut braised pork) served between two scoops of fried garlic rice that are shaped into hamburger buns. The rice that the buns are made ofare reminiscent of the cooked rice on the bottom of a pan or rice cooker: crispy-crunchy on the outside, with soft and slightly overdone rice on the inside.

This begs the question, though: Are kojas like burgers, only better? Well, nothing compares to an actual burger (and some may even argue that adding bacon or aioli squelches the purity of it). However, it can also be said that nothing compares to a koja,either. They're different: Every bite goes down like a delicious, meaty rice bowl wherein you saved all the crispy rice bits for the end, except that kojas offer them with every mouthful.

Other menu offerings include the loaded kamikaze fries (criss-cut waffle fries topped with Korean BBQ beef, spicy red sauce, aioli, and green onions) and a selection of rice bowls, tacos, and beer on tap. There's more outdoor than indoor seating, and the flat-screens and communal tables will likely make the environment rowdy when there's a game on.

It'll be interesting to see how KoJa will fare on a bustling strip crammed with Asian produce markets, Chinese bakeries, and cheap hardware and knickknack shops. While the prices are good as far as "cheap eats" in San Francisco go, they run a little steep for a neighborhood brimming with under-$5 options. While thekojas are indeed tasty — the marinated short rib and beef ones especially, with that quintessential sweet and savory Korean BBQ marinade — they're on the small side and run around $7-$9 a pop. Tack on an egg and some loaded fries, and your full meal will likely run you around $12-$15. Not dirt cheap, but not bad. Plus, everything is packed with flavor and conceptually interesting enough that it's worth at least one try.

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Betty Wang

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