Omnivore - Field Notes: Experience delicacies like corn-cheese at Gaja

Diggin' on Allen Suh's new-ish EAV Korean joint

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I know what you're thinking: "WTF, is that corn-studded cheese topped with popcorn?" The truth is, Gaja's riff on the Korean side dish corn cheese is so much more than that. Actually, wait, no. It isn't much more than that at all. It's cheese, corn, and popcorn sprinkled with bits of seaweed. OK, fine, there are two types of corn kernels in there: fresh and canned. It's kind of like eating a chewy, less-creamy version of cream corn. 

I had dinner at Gaja (491-A Flat Shoals Ave. S.E., 404 835 2126, gajaeav.com) last week, Allen Suh's two-month-old Korean food joint in East Atlanta Village. (Keep an eye out for CL's full First Look at Gaja in the coming weeks.) 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.)

For my main, I picked the hamburger mixed rice, which our super nice and knowledgeable server described as being like a "hamburger bibimbap with smoked spinach and an egg." Sure enough, a big metal bowl arrived filled with rice, potatoes, smoky wilted spinach, and onions, all topped with a dense burger patty and spicy sauce. 

I also had the T.V. Rye cocktail made with a 12-year scotch, rye whiskey, cinnamon, and black sesame. The cloudy, ash-colored sipper was surprisingly sweet with a nutty funky finish. Think a tiki drink with an Asian twist — and watch out. Just a few of those in one sitting could lead to consuming large amounts of corn-y melted cheese with reckless abandon.