|Ashley Lee, manning the barbecue table.|
Ashley Lee is the force behind -- and the face of -- the newly renovated Jang Soo BBQ
, the subject of this week's full-length restaurant review
. Within the space of a year, she renovated and renamed her first cafe, then took over Jang Soo with her family. Before filing the review, I chatted with Lee.
SFoodie: So how did you go from starting Kaju Cafe (now Ashley's Cafe) to Jang Soo?
I grew up in the food business. My grandmother had a restaurant, my mom had a restaurant (both in Pohwang, South Korea) ... and I have a totally different college degree. But I love coffee, pastries, and cookies, so I opened Kaju Cafe on California Street about five years ago. We've gotten known for our Fair Trade coffee and our organic sandwiches. We serve a bulgogi cheese steak sandwich on the menu.
Then two months ago, I had the opportunity to open another business. My grandmother passed away two years ago, but my mom has all of her recipes. So I asked her, do you want to open a restaurant?
Now she's the head chef, and we make everything from scratch. We have our own garden in Mill Valley, where we grow all the vegetables and herbs. And Korean food is all about pepper paste and soybean paste -- that's the base of all our sauces. So we make all that from scratch. We try to stay organic as much as we can.