In the late 1800s, the most influential man in San Diego’s Chinatown, Tom Ah Quin, ran Monkey King, an illegal lottery house where politicians and San Diego’s elite could go to dine, drink and gamble late into the night. Now, the King has returned.
Located in the same location where the original establishment once was, the new Monkey King restaurant pays homage to the Gaslamp Quarter’s Chinatown and its Prohibition-era past.
Poised to celebrate its grand opening, Monkey King has secured Executive Chef Brendan Mica at its helm to develop authentic Chinese cuisine with a modern flare in celebration of the building’s rich history. Mica comes to San Diego from New York City, where he was most recently the chef de cuisine at The Standard High Line in Manhattan.
“I have always had a love for Asian cuisine, its balance, complexity and deep flavor profiles,” said Mica. “The Monkey King menu will have no tricks. We’re crafting recipes inspired by true Chinese cooking, driven by ingredients from our local farming community.”
His menu is composed of share friendly items such as ‘Drunken Lobster Hong Kong style’– a whole 1-pound lobster served with grilled scallions and a classic red chili sauce – and traditional house made dim sum; though it also caters to those less eager to share with dishes like ‘Peking Duck Chow Fun’ and a 12-ounce Prime NY Strip served with a black pepper Sichuan sauce.
To further elevate their experience, patrons can indulge in the restaurant’s cocktail menu, which marries handcrafted cocktails with an Asian focus while also serving up large format drinks in punch bowls such as the ‘Scorpion King’ – vodka, gin, light and dark rum, and a medley of fresh juices.
The restaurant features a new outdoor double patio, open air lounge, and an authentic dim sum table imported from China that seats up to eight people. Its exposed brick and garden walls surrounded by modern gold elements, and a butterfly motif, create a modern and eclectic, yet warm, atmosphere.
“Just like the Monkey King of old, this restaurant will be the most happening destination to enjoy food, drinks and conversation into the late evening hours – with a lively, contemporary vibe,” said Co-owner Matt Gerold.
Monkey King is open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, with the dining menu available until midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends. To make reservations or learn more, visit www.monkeykingsd.com or call 619-359-8897.
About Monkey King
Monkey King is a restaurant, bar and lounge inspired by the popular illegal lottery house from the late 1800s, ran by the most influential man of San Diego’s Chinatown, Tom Ah Quin. The Gaslamp Quarter restaurant features modern Chinese-inspired small plates, created by international chef Brendan Mica, as well as handcrafted cocktails and nightlife offerings. For more information, visit www.monkeykingsd.com or call 619- 359-8897.