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Oct 13, 2012 06:55 PM

Fusebox (Oakland)

To my delight, Fusebox is finally offering Saturday lunch hours in addition to their current W-F lunch schedule.

The Korean Fried Chicken wings are very different from the batter and sauce heavy places in Oakland. The skin here is thin, crispy, and brittle. The wings are fried once, not twice, and apparently the chef applies the sauce on with a paint brush to keep the skin from going limp. The chicken is very white, likely brined or marinated, and the meat juicy and flavorful. The quality of the meat is high, and I'd rank it on par with what you can get at Wings Wings. Not sure what they use in their sauce, but at the risk of saying something very ignorant, it resembles more what I've had at Japanese than Korean restaurants.

The Busan sandwich was pretty good, and well matched to its bread. It could use some more veggies. It consists of pork belly savoy cabbage & pickled white zucchini. It was served with house a small pickled carrot and watermelon radish.

On their specials today, for a dollar each, they had grilled eggplant in a butter miso glaze and grilled king oyster mushroom in a butter miso glaze. The glaze paired better with the mushroom.

I really like that they have, mostly on the daily specials menu, lots of $1 or $1.50 grilled small bites. The portion sizes are of course tiny for that price, but it gives you an opportunity to eat a wide variety of items without breaking the bank, something you certainly can't get at any Izakaya place in the Bay Area.

The neighborhood is mostly warehouse space, so I'd be curious to see if they ever have dinner there.

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  1. tried Fusebox around their grand opening.(may)
    -the wings then were on the dry end
    -like the "oyster" (thigh) skewer the best.
    -portion for kalbi (10) small and pricey.
    -seating very tight and uncomfortable.

    as for dinner, i wouldn't go nights. safety concerns.

    1. Wow thanks hyperbowler! I've been wanting to try them but couldn't make it there for a lunch W-F. I appreciate the tip.

      5 Replies
      1. re: greymalkin

        I have wanted to go here since this thread started and finally was able to make it there for a Sat lunch with my DH. We really enjoyed it! Definitely going back.

        I ordered the porkbelly bap set (porkbelly and rice), DH ordered the dak jjim (winter chicken stew) special, and we ordered all of the daily skewers (brussels sprouts, green bean, mushroom, marble potatoes, shishito peppers, and a skewer "trio" of chicken tender, thigh and knuckle).

        The porkbelly was great- brushed with gochujang (but not too spicy), grilled until tender, very delicious. DH loved his dak jjim, with its salty but deeply flavored and rich miso-like broth. It was perfect comfort food on the cold crisp day we were there.

        The skewers were also very good. Most were brushed with a sweetish miso-dengaku glaze. The shishito peppers and chicken were the only ones brushed with tare sauce (on the less sweet side, like a teriyaki-sauce). I loved the knuckle and ordered another skewer of just knuckle. This apparently delighted both our server and the co-owner because knuckle is not usually popular but they both love it as much as I do. Our favorite veggie skewer was the green beans- cooked to a perfect tender-crisp and nicely seasoned with the miso. As mentioned in other reviews, the skewers are very tiny. Each little nugget was maybe the size of a quarter at most and some were smaller. Each one was only $1.50 and ordering by the single skewer allowed for trying a bit of everything, which I love.

        The banchan were also well done and nicely varied. Half were prepared in a sweet-sour japanese-style (like takuan, the bright yellow pickle you can often get at Japanese restaurants). They prepared some bokchoi stems, radish, sprouted mung beans, and shiso/perilla that way. I have never had shiso sweet-pickled (usually just salty-sour with ume), but it was really tasty. The herb-y licorice flavor worked nicely with the sweet-sour flavor. They also made several more familiar gochugaru/gochujang kimchis, one with radish tops that was actually fairly spicy, a lovely cucumber one, and a lightly fermented napa cabbage one. All the kimchis were fairly spicy but not scorchingly so.

        In general the spice level was quite low, but the flavors were still very good and probably perfect for a Korean food newbie.

        I want to try their beignets (made with riceflour) and their sandwiches next.

        Lunch was two "entrees", 7 skewers and 2 sodas. $48 including tip. We arrived starving and ended up very full, but not unpleasantly stuffed.

        1. re: greymalkin

          The knuckle is so unpopular that on one visit it sold out before I could get any, just like at Ippuku.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            That's so sad! I hope they had them on the other visits. They said that the chef keeps wanting to take the knuckle off the menu but they won't let him because it's their favorite. I'm glad they fight for it.

            I love the knuckle at Ippuku also (that and almost everything else on their menu).

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Could be they just don't stock that much to match the low demand.

              1. re: drewskiSF

                Maybe the chef wants to take them off the menu so he can eat them himself.

        2. I stopped by a couple months ago. The grilled skewers are indeed small, even for the price, but it is nice to be able to try a large variety as a single diner especially.
          The bacon mochi weren't my favorite (but that's not a fair assessment, as I'm not generally a fan of mochi) but they paired well with the mustard sauce. I also liked the chicken oyster the best of the skewers I tried.
          I really enjoyed the wings, mostly for there shatteringly crisp crust, but also the sauce. Though I was expecting spicier, I found the flavor to be well balanced. I remember reading an article when they were preparing to open that they were making their own gojuchang, so that is likely a big difference in the sauce from most places.

          2 Replies
          1. re:

            I really liked the wings I had a few weeks after they opened. Very moist flesh though no discernible heat at all.

            I'd be surprised if there was any gochujang in the sauce .

            As others have said the skin is shatteringly crisp. Little to no breading is more authentic KFC. I think i remember OB as using much less than they currently do.

            1. re: drewskiSF

              Yeah, the sauce didn't taste anything like gochujang to me and wasn't remotely hot. It had more of a salty umami taste.

          2. Finally managed to get there today. Fantastic.

            Aged soju ($4 a shot) was fantastic, the oak aging made it taste somewhere between whiskey and Dutch genever. Also tried a yuzu sour made with the same stuff ($7), dry and refreshing. Town Lager ($6.50 / pint) was a good substitute for Hite or OB.

            Bacon mochi ($2.50) was a bit bland but delicious with the house-made mustard.

            Chicken knuckles skewer was meaty with just a little soft cartilage. I'm blanking on the other skewer or two we got.

            Deep-fried tofu with tare no moto dashi ($4), wow.

            Pork belly "bap set" ($11) was grilled belly, a bowl of rice, and banchan including the fabulous green beans in jang.

            Lubbock banh mi ($8.50?) had steak and Asian-ish cole slaw on an Acme ciabatta roll, great.

            Beignets with honey cream were surprisingly chewy, I forgot to ask if they had mochi in them.

            That was plenty of food for two. Total with a pint of beerm two sojus, and a corn tea was $52. Good value for the quality. Cash or checks only.

            Somebody should open a place like this downtown near BART.

            1. Dinner service starts tonight. Saturdays only, 5:30-9.

              Report on their fried chicken: