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Rhea's Deli [San Francisco]

Just had the Korean Steak Sandwich at this corner liquor store deli. a good pile of marinated rib-eye, sliced thin, tender, served on an acme roll, with choice of cheese, chilli garlic sauce, house pickled red onions & jalapenos, grilled onions, fresh red onions, iceberg lettuce and garlice aioli. they asked me if i wanted it spicy, mild or hot and i said hot please - extra hot. he asked if i'd had their sandwiches before, and i said no. he then said maybe i should try the medium hot. i said no, please, HOT. he said, ok, extra hot? another customer chimed in saying they're pretty hot. and the counter guy said I'm Korean and i think medium is hot. So by then of course i'm scared and i say ok, not extra hot, just your regular hot. they didn't ask me what else i wanted on it, tho, so i think i got the works.

bring it home the 2 blocks, it's delicious - juicy, tasty, messy, big.... BUT NOT HOT. a little nose sniffly, but no burn in the mouth whatsoever. Dang. but i really liked it, and i'll get it again, next time extra extra hot. $8.45 and it was big enough to share. also want to try the pork katsu sandwich - $7.95. they also have the korean steak in tacos - 2 for $6, and an assortment of Boar's head cold cut sandwiches. AND a Panini on Tartine's country loaf! And they sell the owner's mom's homemade kimchi, but i don't know how hot that is because i didn't see it until too late to add it to my sandwich.

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Rhea's Deli
800 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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  1. I love Rhea's Deli -- both the Korean Steak sandwich and the katsu (chicken or pork) are excellent. I usually get the mild versions because I find the spicy versions too much (and I enjoy zesty food). I am surprised that you didn't find the hot version at least reasonably spicy -- either you have a very high heat tolerance or you got the mild version.

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    Rhea's Deli
    800 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    1 Reply
    1. re: SFDude

      the guy making the sandwich made a point of acknowledging that he was making me a "regular" hot, as opposed to an EXTRA HOT - and had heard the whole discussion. my boyfriend had half - not spicy for him either. we do love really spicy food.

      haven't tried the katsu yet - looking forward to it.

    2. i had the korean steak sandwich once, but found the sweetness of the meat jarring with the other flavors, or rather with the cheese. i guess i just can't get into the korean bulgogi fusion thing, like the tacos taking over the country.

      however i frequently order the pork katsu sandwich. the katsu is pounded thinly before breading and frying, and comes with the pickled onions, jalapenos, slaw, spicy aioli and katsu sauce, the worcestershire-like condiment usually served with tonkatsu. i find the medium to actually be medium hot, so maybe you do just like it spicier.

      i did pick up a jar of the kimchi and its pretty good. $6 for a small mason jar, spicier than the stuff i usually buy at woori market on fillmore, but that kimchi isn't really spicy at all. i'd try to describe it better but its been in the fridge for awhile, so now its just pretty ripe, about ready to be cooked rather than eaten straight up.

      but do go try the katsu sandwich, it is quite yummy.

      1 Reply
      1. re: augustiner

        thanks, i think i may do that tomorrow, with the kimchi!

      2. I just have to give a "shout out" to the BBQ Vegetarian Chicken Sandwich. Now that is a messy sandwich, the pieces of fake chicken don't stay in the roll. And the "coleslaw" (pretty much just shredded mixed cabbage/carrot thankfully) gets everywhere.
        I love it.
        The katsu is great too.

        Please don't let this place turn into Ike's Place. They do good business, and one weekends around 1 or so the wait can be 45 minutes.... but so far I can call in a sandwich, get there 10 minutes later and it's ready, unlike Ike's got to be.

        3 Replies
        1. re: kairo

          anyone know how late they serve? i think i'm getting home early evening, thought i'd make the pork katsu my dinner.....

          1. re: mariacarmen

            the Deli is serving until 7 pm today

            1. re: Cynsa

              thanks! i looked online and couldn't find that info, so thanks for your research for me!

        2. The chicken katsu is a huge favorite of mine. I get it mild and it's still a bit hot for me.

          1. Rhea's Deli is indeed good, but I find that sometimes the sandwiches can be unnecessary complicated, which is when I like to go to the simpler yet delicious Guerrero Market and Deli 1 block away

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            Rhea's Deli
            800 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

            3 Replies
            1. re: vulber

              What do you like at Guerrero Market?

              1. re: Frosty Melon

                i especially liked the salmon BLT - very high-quality ingredients, large portions, and very friendly service

                1. re: vulber

                  oooh, salmon BLT! going to have to try that too. love this site!!

            2. in the midst of eating the Pork Katsu sandwich, EXTRA SPICY! they guy taking my order over the phone asked, "mild, medium or spicy?" EXTRA EXTRA SPICY! he said "are you sure?" i said yes, please! i asked if I could have kimchi on it too, and he said they typically don't put it on the sandwich but sell it on the side because then all you'd taste is the kimchi so i said ok, i'll take it on the side.

              It's delicious, and yes, finally, spicy enough. got the mouth burn, the runny nose, the whole bit. the 6 minute walk home did not uncrisp the cutlets, tho i think maybe it had a little too much hoisin - just a tad sweet for my taste, but this is a quibble. love the pickled onions. as for the kimchi - wonderful. i don't know very much about kimchi, except for what i've had as banchan at korean bbq, but this one (made by the owner's mom) is pungent and fresh and crispy and juicy, good amount of heat, and with a faint whiff of the sea! really good. i opened up the sandwich and got rid of a little slaw and added in some kimchi for a bite or two, and it was really good - cut the sweetness. i'm going to get a jar of it next time.

              by the way, i think all they did to ramp up the heat is add more sriracha, and maybe an extra marinated jalapeno or two - i can taste a lot of the vinegary-ness of them.

              so happy to have this place 2 blocks from my house.... (wow, still gasping - lurrrrrve that heat!)

              8 Replies
              1. re: mariacarmen

                Hoisin on pork katsu?

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  sorry, misspoke. Can't remember the name of the typical katsu sauce..... sweetish, brownish....

                  1. re: mariacarmen

                    Tonkatsu sauce?

                    http://tastyislandhawaii.com/blog/200...

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      that's what it's called?? who knew!

                2. re: mariacarmen

                  sriracha? ask them to use Gochu Jang (Korean hot pepper paste) next time . . . and maybe some raw garlic slices! :)

                  1. re: drewskiSF

                    oh - they have that? maybe that's what they used..... is that saltier than Sriracha? more like olek sambal?

                    1. re: mariacarmen

                      just guessing since they are Korean. i haven't been there

                      yes, it's saltier and thicker than Sriracha made with chilis & fermented soybeans

                      1. re: drewskiSF

                        ok, i'll ask next time i'm there. thx.