Itaewon meets Little Baja

by Jisu Chung
Seoul American High School

Move over, Gustos, and make room for Baja. Off the restaurant alley behind the Itaewon McDonald’s is unexpectedly authentic Mexican restaurant Little Baja. Run by former SAHS student Brian Kim, this taco joint offers the student body yet another Mexican option for any Falcon craving cuisine from south of the border.

Owner and chef Kim graduated from SAHS with the Class of 2000, and has lived in southern California until last December. Inspired by both military brat travels and Los Angeles, 33-year old Kim has opened three restaurants so far. Back in Seoul, Kim said of Itaewon’s international food scene: “Back in the 90’s, other than the Korean restaurants, there really wasn’t a ‘food scene.’ Most of what you see in Itaewon happened in the past few years, so I was shocked when I visited last fall for the first time in six years.”

When discussing the competing Mexican restaurants nearby, Kim emphasizes the specialized authority of Little Baja, unafraid of throwing a little shade on the fusion styles of other restaurants. “Mexican food has definitely become more popular across the board. I’m offering something very regionally specific.”       

Baja tacos are affordable, ranging downwards of ₩6,000. Influenced by the cuisine of the Mexican state Baja (below California), Little Baja has a strong seafood specialization, offering fish, octopus and shrimp tacos. “I don’t even consider my place a ‘Mexican restaurant’ per se, but more of a ‘fish taco spot’ - something very common in southern California and Baja, Mexico,” Kim said.

Kim’s story is living proof: from the distant towns of SoCal to the global hub of Itaewon, Falcons of all eras continue to create their own path to soar high. R

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