A little bit of Seoul is coming to the Castro. Owner Andrew Shinn is opening Saucy Asian, a Korean California fusion restaurant headed to the former H Cafe space (3801 17th St.). Shinn came up with the concept on a visit to Seoul, “partying and eating late night.”
Wanting to bring that to the Bay, he came up with a menu of street food that is unapologetically fusion — for example, rather than boiled, rice cakes will be deep-fried and topped with melted cheese. The menu will be full of bowls, sashimi bowls, tacos, burritos, bulgogi fries, tteokbokki, spicy chicken wings, and more, all with Korean barbecue flavors. Specifically, Shinn’s mom’s Korean barbecue flavors, as he’s using her recipe for the base of everything. For the non-Korean aspects, chef Jericho Hutchison (Morimoto) is stepping in, such as with more Mexican taqueria sauces.
Ordering will be, for lack of a better term, “Chipotle-style,” wherein diners can choose their vessel (wrap, bowl, taco, poke-style), proteins like bulgogi, spicy garlic shrimp, or fried tofu, then top it with sauce; other snacks include items like cheese corn or potstickers. Check out a near-final menu in below to get an idea, though it could evolve closer to opening.
The restaurant is in full build-out mode right now, speeding toward a mid-April opening. Once finalized, there will be very limited seating, as the majority of the focus is on takeout. After the restaurant has a chance to settle in, Shinn will even be delivering pre-ordered meals to a drop point at 18th and Church for Dolores Park revelers, a service that makes one wonder why it hasn’t been done before (with the exception of the truffle man’s snacks).
The branding is bright and distinctive, with takeout bags covered in smiley logos and neon colors, designed by Bartlett Brands (Proposition Chicken, Michael Mina Group). There’s a big orange awning when you walk in, which is Shinn’s nod to “pojangmacha,” or tents that hang above ordering and pickup counters in Seoul.
Once Saucy Asian opens, it will serve both lunch and dinner, with a majority focus on delivery through a third-party vendor (TBD). Stay tuned for more.
Ellen Fort contributed reporting to this article.