Korean corn dog shop Stix quietly opened in the Parkside last fall, but just started blowing up on social media in recent weeks, sending crowds to its tiny Taraval Street space. Its owners say it’s the only place in San Francisco to order up the treats in all their meaty, cheesy, crispy, crunchy, deep-fried glory, and a nasty incident with a racist troll this week has drawn even more supporters to its door.
What is a Korean corn dog exactly, meat lovers may ask? Yes, it’s a hot dog on a stick, but it can either be a beef frank, a stick of cheese, or a melding combo of the two. Corn dog might be a slight misnomer, because in fact, instead of corn flour, it’s battered in sweet mochiko rice flour — mochi doughnut lovers will instantly recognize that chew. It’s then rolled in panko bread crumbs, diced crinkle cut fries, or wavy ramen noodles, for extra crunch. A sprinkle of sugar dusts savory with sweet. And never least, there’s a lot of dunk and drizzle action, from spicy mayo to honey mustard.
Stix owner Emily Hui and her fiancé met while working at a local Taiwanese restaurant. After a trip to Japan, the couple realized the popularity of Korean corn dogs, which are often featured in mukbang videos with outrageous cheese pulls. And while there are a couple of spots in San Jose that serve them, including Bazak Bazak and Myungrang, the trend hadn’t hit the seven by seven yet.
“We were wondering, what’s taking so long for someone to open it up in San Francisco?” says Hui. Finally, “We were like, you know what, let’s just do it ourselves.” And Stix was born, quietly opening on Black Friday, 2019, in a former boba shop near 24th Avenue.
Stix also stars a sweet drinks menu. “Corn dogs and boba drinks are a good pair, because you have the fried snacks, and then the sweet and refreshing drinks, too,” Hui says. Her personal favorite is the banana milk, which is ultra creamy, and goes down easy with silky pearls. They’re also pouring classic Hong Kong style milk tea, Thai iced tea, and hopping on the dalgona coffee quarantine trend, too.
Unfortunately, despite a positive response from the neighborhood, at least one racist troll has already stopped by. Stix made local news at ABC7 this week when an anonymous customer placed an online order using a string of offensive racial slurs. Hui says she immediately canceled and refunded the order. She says a customer then came into the shop, asking for the order under a different name. Hui showed him the email and profane ticket, explained why they could not serve him, and he departed. About an hour later, Hui says the shop received a one-star review on Yelp, a review which now appears to have been removed.
“Racism should never be tolerated. Right when we got that message, my initial response was to cancel it, refund it. I don’t know the full story behind it, I don’t think we’ll ever know. But the fact is, it’s a racist comment, and we have to treat it and take it seriously,” says Hui.
“We were all pretty shocked when we got it. I had never experienced anything like this before. It was pretty scary.” Stix shared a photo of the receipt on Instagram stories, which was spread on Twitter, and fans and followers were outraged.
The unintended outcome seems to be that corn dog fans are rallying around this neighborhood business. Stix is a new and small shop, so the owners do ask for everyone’s patience, as they are rushing to hire new employees and keep up with online orders.
Haters aside, it looks like Korean hot dogs are here to stay in San Francisco. It is admittedly hard to resist the charms of a deep-fried snack on a stick, with a sweet boba tea on the side, both easy to tote down the street or munch in the fog of the area’s many parks.