In December 2020, Valencia Street’s Mission Cheese closed after 10 years, but fans of soju slushies rejoiced when The Korner Store opened on September 1, 2021 in the same location. Sadly, just a year and some change later the Korner Store closed, too. Now owner Ina Jungin Lee is ready to bring a new business into the space. Lee, who is Korean, says she wanted to bring something vibrant, new, and Asian to Valencia Street with the Korner Store, a bar and snack shop with a penchant for DJ sets — and she’s going even further with her new shop, BoBop. “Valencia Street is a collection of vibrant culture and diversity, but not always the Asian food scene,” she says. “I wanted to bring Asian people out, but also to give other people a chance to try something new.”
BoBop will sell boba tea and chopab (Korean hand rolls held together with tofu skin) and will open by the end of October or early November. The food will be the main attraction as Lee is ready to show off her family’s recipes on stir-fried kimchi and soy-sauce marinated crab and prawns, all going down in just a few bites. “It’s almost like sushi, but with a Korean twist,” Lee says. The boba tea will be mainly to support the throngs of tea lovers, she says, with salted caramel, taro, creamy mango, and classic flavors, too. “There’s a high demand for something a bit more special than coffee,” she says.
Speaking of, Lee is still whipping up raw soy-sauce marinated crab and prawns for delivery. She needs to have in-season crab and prawns to do it, but, when the ingredients are available, she and her mom prepare as much as they can for pre-order. Her first business, Bibimbar at Bush and Kearny Streets, which opened in 2013, was a way for her to bring her brother, then her mom, then her dad over from Korea. Then she launched Matko, yet another ode to Korean food, in 2018. She loves creating Korean dining experiences for San Franciscans. Lee says legit Korean food is widely accessible in cities like New York and Los Angeles, and that she and her happy brood have been putting in their fair share of the work in San Francisco’s scene. “The whole team behind the scene is my family,” she says.
BoBap SF hopes to open by early November and will be open from Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., or sold out.