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Jan 16, 2013 11:07 PM

please go to To Hyang [San Francisco]

the fact that even despite all the press and everything that our party was the only party in the whole restaurant tonight from 8pm on, worries me significantly - not sure how much longer they can stay open with so little business.

and honestly, i don't quite get it - the food here is unusual and delicious - yes, perhaps a tad more expensive, but nothing obscene.

we had:
yuk hoe/raw beef - as expected, delicious - loved the contrast of the raw mean with the pear/ginger/garlic
fermented soybean soup - can definitely taste the fermentation in this - very unusual
kimchi pancake - best i've had.
pork belly salad - i think this is a dish they made up - but nonetheless, nothing like generous pieces of pork belly mixed with raw vegetables tossed in gochujang
oxtail with dates and chestnuts - again, very unusual but delicous combination of flavos
bulgogi - perfectly fine, nothign special.
soondobu - not the best, very good.
mackerel - meh.

banchan wasn't as extensive as i'd heard (plus they charge for refills), but still very good.

the only other korean restuarants in the city that are in this league are toyose and yakiniq, in my opinion, and those are both totally differnet from what to hyang is doing.

i really hope we don't lose such a special restaurant, but go soon regardless.

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    1. 3815 Geary Street
      (between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave)
      San Francisco, CA 94118

      (415) 668-8186


      Tue-Sat 5 pm - 10 pm

      Sun 5 pm - 9:30 pm

      1. Similarly I walked past a few months ago and it was completely empty. Not a single diner. I think it's hurting them that it's surrounded by a half-dozen other Korean restaurants. One of those Richmond Korean restaurants should swap locations with a Mission taqueria; everyone would win.

        1. can i ask why the food is unusual? it seems like standard korean food to me.

          4 Replies
          1. re: killersmile

            i haven't seen yuk hoe anywhere else, nor the oxtail dish. they ferment the soybean paste themselves, which makes that different from any other version i've had, and there's something about the kimchi pancake that makes it far better than other versions.
            unfortunately i was with a somewhat conservative group so we didn't get to try some of the really unusual dishes like the goat stew, pork neck, croaker, or even the house-infused soju.

            some banchan i hadn't seen before that we couldn't identify.

            1. re: killersmile

              Chris Cosentino took Anthony Bourdain there, they had some dishes that I haven't seen elsewhere.


              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Here's a video of another local chef, Ravi Kapur (of Liholiho Yacht Club, formerly of Prospect) enjoying To Hyang. He says the oxtail with dates is his favorite.


              2. re: killersmile

                They have a lot of dishes that aren't so ubiquitous among K-restos & these are the ones that they excel at. In addition to the Yuk Hwe (raw beef), Pork Belly Salad, So Kori Jjim (Oxtail w/ dates & chestnuts) that vulber mentioned, there's also Jogi (half-fermented kingfish), Dak Dori Tang (savory chicken stew), and others. Their bibimbap has a couple of unusual ingredients too (fernbracken, bellflower, sesame oil)

                In addition, she does not take the easy way out or use prepackaged anything. Their fermented soybean soup is made from paste that she began fermenting many years ago when she owned a restaurant in Korea. She makes her own soy sauce. If you look out the bathroom window, there are jars in the backyard where the soy sauce, paste, kimchi, etc. is fermenting.

              3. Just chiming in to increase your sample size. I was there last month. It was not full, but there were at least three other parties having dinner.

                We had the pork neck soup and the sul lung tang, both were good. I agree with you that it should be busier, especially during the winter when their soup dishes (jjige) hit the spot.