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Feb 29, 2008 08:05 PM

Shin Toe Bul Yi - Korean on Taraval, SF - Report

Based on some older posts and a recommendation from David Kaplan (among others), I checked out Shin Toe Bul Yi tonight. We had a great meal.

Before we had even ordered, they brought out a complimentary green onion pancake - flavor wasn't perfect, but freshly fried and pretty tasty. It would be a pretty great world if every restaurant automatically gave you a free green onion pancake.

We ordered 1 bi bim bap and one order of fried chicken, which we saw on many tables. Before this was served, we received 7 different panchan items - nice variety of textures and flavors: fish cakes, pickled cucumber, kimchee, anchovies, pickled daikon, pickled beets and bean sprouts. Then we were also served a complimentary tofu stew, which I thought was really good. There were lots of pieces of soft tofu, with some veggies (no seafood or meat as far as I could tell). Slightly spicy, but not overly.

The bi bim bap was served sizzling w/ the egg still raw on top - overall, very good, though the meat was not as flavorful as I would have liked. Still, generous serving and the pot was good and hot which made the rice crisp nicely. The fried chicken was the biggest disappointment for me, especially after reading the hype about it - perhaps our batch was somewhat off. The main problem was texture - the batter had a chewy consistency, not crispy as I was expecting. Inside, the chicken was moist and flavorful, and the batter itself had a good flavor too. So overall it was pretty good, but not great - I couldn't tell if other tables had chicken that was crispier.

Our total bill (for more food than we could eat) was only 23 dollars before tip - excellent value, good service, nice space, and varied menu with good panchan selection. This is definitely the type of place I'd never know about if it weren't for chowhound. Thanks a lot!

Dave MP

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  1. When I looked for a link for Shin Toe Bul Yi, it came up with Han Bat Korean Restaurant. This is weird because I know there is a link for Shin Toe Bul Yi....not sure why I couldn't connect. But anyway, it is at 2001 Taraval ....(at 30th Av)

    Han Bat Korean Restaurant
    2001 Taraval St, San Francisco, CA 94116

    3 Replies
    1. re: Dave MP

      Here's the link

      If you don't match the city/state EXACTLY ... down to the stupid punctuation, the place record isn't found. The best way to check to see if the record is there is to search for the record in the main Place search

      Then note how the city/state is entered. I wish this would get fixed. It is the primary reason there are so many duplicates.

      So what's with Han Bat? Was that the previous restaurant there?

      Shin Toe Bul Yi
      2001 Taraval St, San Francisco, CA 94116

      1. re: rworange

        I think Han Bat must be the legal business name, that's how it shows up in the SF Dept. of Public Health inspection reports.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          ... and that's what shows up on the credit card receipt, too.

    2. Thanks for this report. We are new to the neighborhood and new to Korean food, so this place will definitely go on the list--when we can tear ourselves away from the pho ga at Little Window on Noriega.

      Have you tried the Korean place in the converted garage on Noriega?

      1. The fried chicken batter should be crispy, now chewy. Maybe try asking for it well done. I had fried chicken in Korea, but this is better.

        Lunch is a great deal if you're not there for fried chicken. You still get the pancake and panchan and a huge dish of kalbi or jap chae (my two favorites there, besides the chicken) for under $10. Enough for two meals.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Windy

          Hm, then I have a feeling that our chicken sat out on the counter or was re-heated or something. The taste was definitely there though - just the texture was not what I was expecting. Luckily, I spent the rest of the weekend in Nashville, TN where I had awesome fried chicken.

          1. re: Windy

            I agree with Windy, lunch is a good deal if you can make it out there.

            Photo of what you get for lunch:

            Not one to give up easily (aka hardheaded), I have ordered the fried chicken at STBY three times and each time it has had a heavy chewy batter similar to what DaveMP described. Fortunately, they have a lot of good soups and stews.

            Menu pics:

          2. Four of us ate here again last night - we had a good meal. The wait was about 45 minutes to get in at 7:00 PM on Saturday, so we were pretty hungry by the time it was time to order.

            This time, the fried chicken was much better than on my first visit. It was perfectly crispy, none of the texture problems I had experienced before. So now I do understand what the hype is about.

            We had a soup w/ rice cakes and "tasty" dumplings in beef broth - this was also very nice. Broth had lots of white pepper, it was a light accompaniment to the fried chicken.

            Rice cakes w/ vegetables and spicy sauce was the weak point - the sauce was bright red and sweet, but without that much flavor. A bit too gloopy. I did enjoy the texture of the long, tube-shaped rice cakes.

            Bi Bim Bap was good and standard - about the same as my description in February.

            This time we ordered the large green onion pancake, which costs 9 dollars, but is HUGE. I enjoyed the outer crispy ends, especially dipped in the vinegar sauce that was on the table (unclear what this sauce was meant for). The inner pieces were softer, and later in the meal we discovered that the pancake contained a few oysters (though I didn't remember seeing that on the menu). Overall, this was a great dish, very freshly fried and served very hot.

            We also had a complimentary dish of pan fried (or broiled) boneless fish - very salty but tasty, though I didn't eat much of it. The other panchan were good but nothing special - little fish, fish cakes, kimchee, pickled daikon, cucumbers. I liked the cucumbers a lot - almost identical to half-sour pickles.

            Total bill four 4 people was 53 dollars before tip - and this was enough food to STUFF us (and still have leftovers). So this place is certainly a good bargain, and I'd definitely return, especially now that I know my first fried chicken experience there was just a fluke.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Dave MP

              It is always packed Saturday nights; you can walk across to Rick's and get Hawaiian drinks while you wait. But the upside is the food is consistently delicious when they're busy.

              We've also done takeout with great success. They pack up all the pan chan, although no tofu stew with the friend chicken.