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Feb 2, 2009 12:26 PM

Shin Toe Bul Yi [San Francisco]

So my friend took me to this place called Shin Toe Bul Yi:
Category: Korean
Neighborhood: Parkside
2001 Taraval Street
(between 30th Ave & 31st Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94116
(415) 566-9221

And I am in love! The fried chicken there is OH SO GOOD! I also really enjoyed the tofu stew. The onion pancake was to die for, and the sauce for it was awesome! Not to mention all the other little goodies they bring out for you. Nice Chile pickled yumminess! Went on a thursday about 7, 7:30 there was only one party ahead of us ;)
I can't wait to go back! One of my fav's so far!

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

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  1. That's my go-to spot for Korean in SF at this point - two of us usually order the chicken and a Bi Bim Bap, and it ends up being plenty of food since there is always a complimentary tofu stew and plenty of panchan.

    It can get really crowded on weekends, so beware.

    1. Is the fried chicken anything like that at Kyochon in LA or NY? More detail, please.

      1. Hello,
        My friend and i showed up at 7 pm on a tuesday (last night) and had no trouble getting a seat, however, within 10 minutes there was a line out the door...

        There was only one waitress/server/bus person and she was kicking ass! i have no idea where she got the energy or maintinaed the focus, but she was on it and never stopped. i was completely impressed with her smile, service, and fortitude.

        As for the meal: we ordered the fried chicken, bi bim bap with vegetables and beef and egg, soft tofu stew, and a large sake.
        What we got: 7 banchan, a fried mackerel, an excellent soft tofu stew, a plate of fried chicken that could have fed at least 4 people, and our bi bim bap. (and our sake)

        What i thought:
        the banchan- all of it was excellent, but my favorites were the fishcake, the spicky pickled daikon, and of course, the bean sprouts.
        The fried mackerel - it was ok, it was complimentary. I think that if you order the soft tofu stew, then this comes as your complimentary app, and if you don't, then the soft tofu stew comes as your complimentary dish. at least, that was what was happening last night. Anyway, i am not a mackerel fan, so i ate a few bites and moved on.
        The bibimbap - this was good. it had an excellent array of vegetables, not a lot of meat, but the meat that was in it was good and tender and flavorful and added to the dish. however, i have to say, that without the accompanying spicy red sauce, this dish was super bland. Bland as in completely devoid of any salt what-so-ever. not even a preserved fish salt flavor to give it any oomph. if they had not given us the spicy red sauce i would have thought it was awful. however, it was cooked perfectly and with the red sauce was acutally amazingly tasty and we ate the whole thing.
        The fried chicken - it was awesome. perfectly cooked. moist and juicy. i thought the batter would be spicier, but it was very mild. it was pretty much how i imagined and hoped it would be. and every table in the place had a platter of it. It did not come with a sauce on the platter, but since we had a giant bottle of the spicy red sauce for the bibimbap, we just used that for the chicken and it was great.
        The soft tofu stew - we ordered it spicy, and i am glad that we did, since it was perfect. i think that if we had specified that it be mild, it probably would have tasted bland. I have to say, this was my favorite thing on the table, we sucked it down and both could have had more. it was smoky, slightly spicy, had a hint of sweetness (like you sometimes get from pork broths) the abundant amount of tofu and bits of mushroom and veg were perfect. it was really quite delicious and exactly what i wanted last night.

        Needless to say, we did our best to finish it all, but still had half a platter of chicken to take home. i can't bear to see food go to waste, so we polished off the banchan in a valiant effort to clear the table and then we wrapped the rest up.

        Our waitress/server/buslady was still moving like a bat out of hell, and the line was still well out the door, so our 42 dollar bill came to 60 with a tip cause i just couldn't stand to think that such a marathon effort of service could be less rewarded.

        All in all it was a great meal for the price, and i am looking forward to my fried chicken lunch!

        There was nothing revelatory and eye opening about this meal, but it was very good food at an amazingly decent price and i would definitely return.

        oh, and the last plus of the night: since there are no grills on the tables, cause it is not a bbq joint, i didn't have to shower when i got home! or change my smoky clothing!

        3 Replies
        1. re: jupiter

          One of my favorite places to eat. Aside from the fried chicken and pan chan, my favorite dishes there are jap chae and kalbi. They have a great deal for lunch too.

          1. re: jupiter

            Nice report!

            I agree with you about the mackerel being not amazing. I also received a complimentary order of that on one occasion, and I definitely prefer to get a free tofu stew, instead.

            For the bibimbap, you are definitely meant to mix in the red sauce, since without it there wouldn't be a ton of flavor.

            jupiter, have you tried the tofu stews at other Korean places in SF? I'd be curious to hear how you think they compare!

            Dave MP

            1. re: Dave MP

              Hi Dave,
              I have not had a lot of experience with Korean food in SF, since most of my friends won't go with me.
              I have had the tofu stew only from a few places, and this one by far was my favorite. It had a smokiness (like smoked paprika, but not quite) that was really intriguing. and it had way more soft tofu in it than any other of the stews i have had.
              Also, there is something about the spicy spices at shin toe bul yi. it's like all the spicy is complimented by some sort of sweetness that really works. it is not overpowering, but just enough to make the heat sing. i noticed it in the red sauce, and in the stew.
              The only other tofu stew i have had that i remember favorably was from Dong Baek on O'farrell. but this was years ago, when i went wtih a co worker of mine. The broth was good, but much spicier and the tofu was harder.
              I am going to go check out 707 Sutter for lunch next week and i will report back. but if it isn't bubbling like mad and overflowing with tofu like the one i had last night, i may be dissapointed....;)

          2. Ate here last week and had a good meal. The "Thin Sliced Beef, Vegetables And Egg In Spicy Beef Broth" was my favorite dish of the evening—a comforting stew that wasn't actually too spicy. It was served with rice, but I ate it as more of a soup.

            Dolsot bi bim bap is really good here, with lots of vegetables mixed in.

            Fried chicken has a really crispy exterior, but there's not a ton of meat on the bones. Not my favorite dish, but for those who love fried chicken, it's still worth it.

            Panchan were all good (especially the kimchee) and fried mackerel (complimentary) was not bad.

            They don't open until 6 I think, so when we walked in at 6:15, there was no wait. By the time we left at 7 it was much more busy.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Dave MP

              Their jap chae is good too, as are the kalbi. I'll have to try the stew next time.