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Oct 10, 2007 09:18 PM

Toyose in SF?

In the post linked above, Cynsa recommends the Korean fried chicken here. What else do 'hounds like at Toyose?

3814 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA 94122

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  1. I love their boo dae jjigae. One the menu, I think they call it a casserole with spam and kimchi. It's a spicy broth with spam (i know, but i LOVE it), kimchi, hot dogs, rice cake, caroots, onions, beef, and ramen noodles. They bring a portable burner and a big ol' pot with all the goodies in it and you bring it all to a boil at your table. The ramen noodles come uncooked so you throw them in after the broth comes to a boil.

    The seafood pancake is good too. It's about the size of a small pizza. Start with the pancake and have the boo dae jjigae (ask for rice if it gets too spicy). Wash it all down with some OB (korean beer) and soju when it gets REALLY spicy.

    The place is kinda small, so either call ahead or go early. It's popular with the young asian crowds and they can get really loud and rowdy. But they usually don't arrive til after 10pm, earlier on the weekends.

    3 Replies
    1. re: chris_chow

      Thanks much! SF is lacking in worthwhile Korean options, so this sounds very promising. Also, I noticed from your "my Chow" page that you're a new poster. Welcome, and hope to hear more from you!

      1. re: chris_chow

        Four of us celebrated two birthdays last night with the boo dae jjigae, the seafood pancake, octopus and vegetables with rice cake, the fried chicken wings, the kimchee fried rice with fried egg and seaweed and the strawberry soju. Total: $88 plus tip.
        This is hearty fare to back up serious drinking. My mom liked the smoothness of the Korean soju - nothing like the Japanese sochu that her mother made at home for my grandfather on the ranch in Fresno. She says it's an "old man' s drink" and thinks it very curious that this flavored version is so popular now with the young set. With the addition of strawberries it tastes like an aqua fresca with a buzz.

        The fried rice is red with chili sauce. Topped with the fried egg and dried seaweed, it's a good mesh of flavors - but for $11, I'll make it at home.
        The seafood pancake was cut in squares and each portion was a surprise of shrimp, calamari, or octopus with lots of green onion and an occasional burst of very hot chili pepper. I liked the crispy edges and everyone else went for the gooey center pieces that stuck to the parchment paper liner.
        A bite of the fried chicken wings broke through the crackling crust to steaming hot moist meat...cooled with shredded cabbage.
        The octopus with the zucchini and carrot slices and the rice cakes was delicious with a thick red chili sauce. Keeping with this theme of red-flavored foods, we ordered the spam, hot dog, tofu, kimchee casserole and it came to the table on the portable burner bubbling with its spicy broth and a block of dried ramen noodles. Just right. Great for sharing. More than enough for four.

        final note: my mom was grossed out by the water on the floor in the's a garage, afterall... other than that... the atmoshere is delightful with tables set apart and divided in sections, bells ringing for service.

        1. re: Cynsa

          You went back, must be good. I appreciate the commentary on the atmosphere, ringing bells. Thanks for the update and happy birthday to all!

      2. Could we please get an update on Toyose, both the food and the atmosphere? What are your favorite dishes?

        7 Replies
        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Great atmosphere. Goofy rustic soju bang decor with a nautical theme, sort of like a tiki bar.

          The fried chicken wings are great. Everybody seems to order them. Nothing else I've ordered has been at all memorable.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Reminds me of a neighborhood bar in Japan or Seoul. Fried chicken was great. We also had a very spicy seafood casserole/soup which I recall liking. Also I the grilled mussels appetizer, with a spicy mayonnaise based sauce -- large green lip mussels (frozen, I presume). I liked this dish and have had it twice. My wife only eats one mussel - it's not her favorite dish... We were there maybe 3 months ago and will go again soon on some foggy cold night.

            All in all this is a very authentic Korean place with lots of young Korean-Americans and a lively atmosphere, open very late.

            1. re: Thomas Nash

              Thanks, guys. More of a spot for a drinking meal than a family dinner?

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Depends how big the family. Tables seems to be for 4, maybe some 6, many in booths. There are lots of choices on the menu. Lots of sharable items. It is not really a bar atmosphere, but as I said earlier more like a neighborhood places you would find in Nara, Kyoto, or Seoul. Very friendly and warm. A family dinner would be just fine. I think they don't open until 6 (and stay open until 2 AM according to my notes). Great food for a cold foggy night.

                  1. re: Thomas Nash

                    I like the idea of booths. But it's in a garage?

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Once you get inside, you wouldn't know the front part had been a garage, it's been pretty thoroughly made over.

                      I've seen parties of 8-10 there, but not familes, groups of young people.

            2. I'm updating this discussion, since I was on the beach last night and we looked up good Korean places nearby on Chowhound. We found this discussion, and based on what we read, we gave Toyose a try.

              I was really pleasantly surprised by this place. Like others have said, you would never know it's a converted garage once you're inside, though from the outside you can barely tell that it's a restaurant, since there are no windows.

              We sat in the back (not at a booth), and shared the following:

              Seafood Pancake - This was excellent, and contained shrimp, squid, and jalapenos. Dipping sauce was soy/sesame/chili and was great. Crispy, hot, and one of the best seafood pancakes I've ever had.

              Spicy Fried Chicken - Good flavor, and very crispy, but the chicken was on the tough side. Pieces were small. Served w/ some shredded cabbage in a Russian dressing. I wonder whether we just got a tough batch, or if this is always the style. Not bad, just not as good as the pancake.

              Tteokboki with eggs - Large serving of rice cakes w/ two whole hard boiled eggs, in a spicy sauce (it actually wasn't all that spicy). Also mixed in were some veggies (onions, carrot, cabbage), which made this a nicer dish than versions at other restaurants, where you literally just get the rice cakes.

              Pineapple soju cocktail - For $11, a decent sized bottle of soju. Not very strong, but a pleasant pineapple flavor (think pineapple juice, plus a bit of soju).

              Panchan was limited, but included a large bowl of pickled radish which was some of the best I've had. Super crunchy, slightly sweet, white radish. To me it tasted like some other spice was involved, but i couldn't tell what. Meanwhile, kimchi, bean sprouts, spinach and sweet potato were all good too.

              It's not super cheap (total bill was over $50 for two of us, though we had a bit of food leftover). But the quality is good and there are some other dishes that look great. Various stews and hot pots on other tables looked good, and the fried rice topped w/ fried egg looked great too.

              It was pretty busy even on a Tuesday night, and I imagine it gets even busier at other times.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Dave MP

                Agreed on their topokki with the mixed-in veggies, it's delicious. If you go back, try the kimchi fried rice (with egg) and the cheese fries -- I think they're listed as mozzarella fries?

                Robert's "rustic soju-bang" description really sums it up. Incredibly laid-back.

                1. re: Dave MP

                  Were you seated right away? Maybe Tuesday night is the trick, I've always found a wait at any normal eating hour. It's been a while, but the kimchi fried rice is my favorite thing on their menu.

                  1. re: wanderlust21

                    Yup, we were seated right away at about 7:15 PM. But by the time we left it was pretty full

                    And yeah, the kimchi fried rice w/ egg on top looked really good. Definitely want to try that next time!

                    1. re: Dave MP

                      +1 on the kimchi fried rice w/ egg

                      I assumed they'd be packed near midnight on a Saturday, but there were lots of tables available a few weeks back. The chicken wasn't as good as I'd remembered/idealized it, but it was still crunchy and pretty juicy. The crust was pretty dark and it wasn't really very spicy. If you have a designated driver, it's a great place to go after hitting the bars in the Richmond and Sunset.