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Anthony Bourdain-Approved Korean Barbecue Is Coming to SF

NYC chef Deuki Hong is bringing his lauded KBBQ across the country

Deuki Hong
Deuki Hong
Paul Crispin Quitoriano

Eater Young Gun and former chef of the NYC food world’s favorite Korean barbecue is moving to San Francisco. Which means this Korean food-lacking town is about to get a major boost of kimchi and grilled marinated meats. Chef Deuki Hong is leaving behind a restaurant that brought praise from Anthony Bourdain, Corey Lee, Tyler Florence, David Chang, and other food glitterati, all to embrace the challenge of cooking in a new city.

To start, Hong is opening a Korean fried chicken restaurant in the back of the upcoming Boba Guys at 1522 Fillmore St., in what Boba Guys co-owner Andrew Chau is calling the Boba Lab. It will be a rotating pop-up concept, and Deuki’s Sunday Bird is up first. “It’s a hidden fried chicken shack that’s all about the bird,” Hong, who was trained at Momofuku and Jean-Georges, told Eater SF. The menu will use all parts of the chicken, in fried chicken, paired with pickles of course, as well as fried chicken skins to snack on, chicken soup, and vegetables roasted in chicken fat, and more. Hong will only make about 50 chickens a day (Mary’s, naturally), and sell them in half and whole portions. Chau plans to create a few special drinks for the concept, too.

Humbled by a visit from one and only #CoreyLee! #baekjeong #nyc #koreatown #benu #benuSF

A photo posted by Baekjeong NYC (@baekjeongnyc) on

Sunday Bird should open by February and stay open late, with a distinct hip hop, casual vibe. Hong is unsure how long it will stay in that specific space — he describes it as a jumping off point for a larger location with the ability to serve alcohol. “We definitely want to grow and be accessible instead of just behind a bubble tea shop,” Hong said. “But I think it’s a cool start, because I don’t want to just be some chef from NY who bought out a 100-seat restaurant.”

Beyond Sunday Bird, he’s also in final negotiations to sign a lease on Fillmore for a Korean barbecue restaurant with a fermentation lab, one that Hong hopes will turn into an industry favorite and late night destination. “We just want to up the game for Korean barbecue. There’s definitely a need in SF. There are good Korean restaurants, but not a lot of options, and I think that we can definitely raise the level of just the quality, whether it’s the service or value,” he said. “Me being Korean, it hurts me that SF is one of the major cities and a hub for all technology, and all my SF friends are like, ‘Dude, theres like no good Korean food here.” Why is that? It doesn’t make sense; it’s definitely not a sourcing issue. I think there just needs to be somebody to do it — hopefully me, but who knows.”

If all goes well with the lease, Hong is ambitiously aiming for the end of 2017 to open. The news is especially exciting here in SF, since the Korean barbecue scene has not had much change in years, and mostly revolves around only decent all-you-can-eat concepts (with the notable exception of Han Il Kwan in SF proper). If Hong succeeds here like he did in NYC, then he will likely make a major splash in the SF food world. Stay tuned for more details.

So much delicious food!!!!

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