After early success at 711 Geary Street, where it opened just last October, Korean restaurant Barnzu is already planning to expand to a second location. The team will open a new Barnzu, called Barnzu Korean Tapas, serving a separate menu (but the same Korean small plates concept) at 250 Hyde Street.
That storefront is recognizable for its large, neon sign that reads Lafayette Coffee Shop, recalling the location’s previous tenant, a long-running diner that suddenly packed up and relocated to 611 Larkin in 2016, leaving its sign behind in the shuffle.
Barnzu is owned by partners Nathan Choi and Jae Jung, who also run Korean fried chicken truck Kokio Republic, and restaurateur Min Choe, the owner of Tamashisoul Sushi Bar in Cow Hollow and Mission bistro Sushi Hon. Choi translates “barnzu” as “meal and drink in Korean,” and the format has apparently struck a nerve on Geary.
Over the last few months, Barnzu has added new dishes to its opening menu, like bulgogi fries and braised and boiled pork belly (with sswanjan soybean sauce, salted, fermented shrimp, rolled kimchi, and endive leaf on a hot stone). The restaurant added more hours, delivery through Uber Eats and Postmates, and a high-end sake list.
The new Barnzu spinoff in the old Lafayette Coffee Shop will serve more Korean food in a tapas style — “mostly small dishes with a French tweak,” per Choi. Examples include foie gras sliders, oyster pancakes (with hijiki namu, or seasoned seaweed), and wagyu beef wraps with sesame leaves. As Barnzu implies drinking, beverages at the new location are to include beer, wine, sake, and “non-alcoholic house-made beverages.”
Choi is shooting for an August or September opening, so stay tuned as late summer/early fall approaches. In the meantime, neon preservationists and fans of the Lafayette Coffee Shop sign needn’t worry: “We’ll be keeping the sign for sure,” says Choi. “It’s historic and we want it to be there forever.”