EMERYVILLE, Calif. (KGO) -- Friday night was big for Andrew Shinn. It's the grand opening of Saucy Asian.
"The concept is born out of my time in Seoul, going to grad school and just experiencing my motherland," said Shinn, the restaurant owner.
Born out of Seoul and brought to Emeryville, Shinn says he is excited to expand his hit San Francisco restaurant across the Bay Bridge.
When asked what's hot on the menu, he responds: "Saucy Asian bowl for sure. It is the top-selling item, every day, every week, every month, every year!"
Shinn says for seven years he was looking a new location. Emeryville made sense.
"I knew Emeryville was up and coming. I took a tour of the area, of the mall of Bay Street. Really was excited about everything that they were doing, developing, bringing in. I wanted to be a part of that," he said.
It's one of five new restaurants to open in just the past few weeks, which is driving the mall's makeover.
"It is really exciting actually. Looking at all the new places. It makes Emeryville like more of a spot for students like us to be here," said Christian Rodriguez, a Berkeley resident who had lunch with several friends at Bay Street.
A dozen big-name stores left during the pandemic. There was a 35% vacancy rate until the new owners, CenterCal Properties, took over about two years ago.
Emeryville Mayor John Bauters says the new restaurants are helping to revitalize the area.
"Bringing people into your city is critical, not just to the economic success but it is actually a huge component of actually improving public safety and livability," Bauters said.
"Pippal in India is like a fig tree. So, in early days, people used to sit under a fig tree. They used to chit-chat, discuss things, have a lot of food," said Rahul Bhambri, co-owner of Indian restaurant Pippal.
That sense of community is what Bhambri is trying to capture at Bay Street. Just its second week in, the Emeryville spot joins his four other Michelin-recognized Indian restaurants.
"The response is pretty good. They are liking the food. They are liking the ambiance that we have created. So, I think it should be a good destination for foodies," Bhambri said.
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