Aria - Korean American Snack Bar in the Tenderloin - Report
We had takeout from Aria today for lunch, and were able to try quite a few things on the menu
Korean Fried Chicken - We tried this plain, and also with the two available sauces: sweet & spicy, and garlic & soy. The chicken here is boneless, sort of chicken-finger like, in a thick batter. A co-worker noted some warm spices in the batter, although these were somewhat drowned out by the sauces. Chicken had been out of the fryer for almost 30 mins by the time I ate it, so I thought it was a bit dry and the batter had lost some crispiness, but it was still tasty. Both sauces were good, though not great - the sweet & spicy was sort of like a spicy barbecue sauce, not at all similar to the sauce at San Tung, which was more what I was expecting. Garlic and soy was really just that, with some added dried chilies and a bit of sweetness.
Bibimbap - These were really good: generous serving for $7.99, with rice, bulgogi (beef), and various vegetables, served with a spicy bean paste. I would probably go back for this over the chicken.
Dukbokgi - A really nice version of this dish. The rice cakes were very large and thick, with a gnocchi like texture, and were served in a not-too-spicy chile sauce. The sauce-to-rice cake ratio was high, so there was a lot more sauce than I'm used to seeing when I get this dish. But it made for a good dipping sauce for the dumplings and seaweed rolls.
Fried seaweed rolls - Sort of like a small maki, deep fried. I wasn't a huge fan, but they were fine.
Fried potstickers - Nothing very special, but also okay. Nice for dipping in the dukbokgi sauce.
Kimchi - Homemade, and quite good. This was a salty version (as opposed to places like Shin To Bul Yi which make a much sweeter version), but I found myself going for seconds and thirds.
Pickled radish - This came with the chicken, and was also quite good. Refreshing, not too sour.
All in all, a good bargain, and if I was in the Tenderloin craving Korean food, I'd definitely go there again. I think the chicken might be significantly better if it's eaten straight from the fryer, since it was already pretty decent, but the bibimbap with a side of kimchi would make a great lunch for under $10. There are a few seats in the restaurant, but it seems to be more focused on takeaway.
I've posted a picture of the fried chicken in the Dish of the Month thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/856748
Address: 932 Larkin St, SF - between Post and Geary
Mon-Sat 11 am - 10 pm, Sun 3 pm - 7 pm