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12 Bold Korean Restaurants in San Francisco

From fried chicken to crispy rice bowls, satisfy your Korean food craving here

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As is often the case in San Francisco, you can find everything from elegant, upscale restaurants to tiny, mom-and-pop shops dishing up great Korean food in this city. And in the past few years the breadth of what’s on those restaurant menus has only grow, too — resulting in a diverse range of Korean dining options with some specializing in specific dishes and others pushing to bring previously hard-to-find hybrid cuisines to more Bay Area diners. Whatever you’re craving or where you’re going, let this list be a jumping off point of your next Korean restaurant excursion.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Yes, it’s housed in a former garage — but don’t let looks fool you. Toyose is a destination for San Franciscans craving something spicy, and even more so if it’s late at night. This hidden-away restaurant has a well-established reputation for excellent kimchi pancakes, generous portions of fried rice, and spicy chicken wings. It’s a first come, first served seating situation, but if you need a fix there’s always the option for takeout, which the restaurant absolutely nails.

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Building on the success of their Inner Sunset Korean superette Queens, husband-and-wife team Eddo Kim and Clara Lee set out to bring the Chinese-Korean junghwa food of their youths to the Outer Sunset avenues. Since May the couple has been filling containers with gan jjajang, a heady mix of minced pork and black bean paste, and fiery red mapa dubu. There are even ample vegetarian options including mandoo stuffed with Impossible pork. Everything is takeout friendly and available for delivery through most of the city.

A container of food including rice and prawns. Patricia Chang

Han Il Kwan

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Widely regarded as one of the city’s best options for Korean barbecue, Han II Wan has been doing its thing in the Richmond District for years. It’s a causal, low-key place to get either an affordable lunch or a family-size dinner complete with soup, meat, seafood, noodles, and more.

Caleb Pershan

Inner Sunset residents turn to this Irving Street corner restaurant for its solid and extensive selection of Korean food — everything from spicy seafood stew to kimchi pancakes. You’ll likely see lots of diners digging into some variety of bibimbap, with the crispy rice buried under beef, vegetables, seafood or a combo of all three.

Los Angeles-based chef and restaurateur Chris Oh’s Inner Sunset restaurant has resumed indoor dining, and you can still get some of San Francisco’s most famous fried chicken wings for takeout or to enjoy on the reservations-only back patio. If you dine on-site look forward to Um.ma’s handsome outdoor setup, which allows diners to stretch out under string lights while grilling Kurobuta pork belly and “LA-style galbi” on tabletop barbecues.

Almost equal parts Korean dining hotspot and drinking den, this casual Marina-Cow Hollow restaurant begs diners to wash down platters of crispy fried chicken and bubbling hot pots with sweet soju or golden-amber rice wine. The standout dish is a plate of soy-cured shrimp served alongside a bowl of rice topped with a fried egg and curls of dried seaweed.

A tray of fried chicken with pickled vegetable and sauce at Ilcha. Photos by Reuben Kim

BANSANG

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Bansang may be part of the Daeho empire, but this modern Korean restaurant feels and tastes entirely different. In a high-ceilinged space near Japantown, chefs Jin Lim and Ethan Mi offer diners a parade of small plates — each clearly rooted in Korean cuisine but transformed with a combo of attention to detail and luxe ingredients like uni and caviar. For example, take the restaurant’s galbi: a thick double-cut short rib so tender the meat nearly falls off the bone, served over a swipe of pine nut sauce.

Toast topped with scallops, uni, and ikura. Lauren Saria

Daeho Kalbijim & Beef Soup

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If you’re at Daeho you’re probably ordering the kalbijim, a locally-famous behemoth comprised of rice cakes smothered in a sweet-spicy red sauce and buried under thick layers of beef short ribs so tender they fall away from the bone on their own accord — plus a fistful of cheese that’s blow torched tableside. Not excited about that prospect? There’s a whole slew of other meaty options including kalbitang (or beef rib soup) and beef bibimbap. Wait times can be long, so plan ahead or try to mini-outpost inside H Mart.

Braised short rib stew at Daeho Luke Tsai

The Lucky Pig

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This Tenderloin Korean restaurant is a verified neighborhood gem, serving some of the city’s crispiest Korean fried chicken plus standards like tteokbokki rice cakes and budae-jjigae.

Korean stew from Lucky Pig Rob Aiavao

Surisan

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From the owners of Kitchen Story and Sweet Maple, this Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant won’t win points for keeping things traditional but serves a blend of Korean and American plates for breakfast and brunch. Start your day with either eggs and bacon or something less common like braised short rib benedict.

Namu Stonepot

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Whether you get your fix at the Ferry Building farmers market or at the mid-Market storefront, Namu Stonepot promises a modern take on a Korean classic: rice bowls. The signature Namu Stonepot comes loaded with a rainbow of pickled vegetables, tofu, and kimchi over koshihikari rice. If you want something hearty try the gluten-free Mochiko Fried Chicken followed by a colorful boba tea.

Stonepot from Namu Stonepot Namu Stonepot

SAN HO WON

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Chef Corey Lee (Benu) and Jeong-In Hwang lift the Korean barbecue experience to new heights at this wildly popular modern, minimalist restaurant in the Mission. At the center of the menu lies a selection of meats — everything from galbi to center cut beef tongue — all of which get charred on the restaurant’s custom grill fueled by lychee wood. Just make sure to save room for the excellent options from the other sections of the menu including various styles of kimchi, buttery sweet corn on the cob, and stew laden with silky tofu.

Chef Jeong-In Hwang at the grill at San Ho Won Eric Wolfinger

Toyose

Yes, it’s housed in a former garage — but don’t let looks fool you. Toyose is a destination for San Franciscans craving something spicy, and even more so if it’s late at night. This hidden-away restaurant has a well-established reputation for excellent kimchi pancakes, generous portions of fried rice, and spicy chicken wings. It’s a first come, first served seating situation, but if you need a fix there’s always the option for takeout, which the restaurant absolutely nails.

Hotline

A container of food including rice and prawns. Patricia Chang

Building on the success of their Inner Sunset Korean superette Queens, husband-and-wife team Eddo Kim and Clara Lee set out to bring the Chinese-Korean junghwa food of their youths to the Outer Sunset avenues. Since May the couple has been filling containers with gan jjajang, a heady mix of minced pork and black bean paste, and fiery red mapa dubu. There are even ample vegetarian options including mandoo stuffed with Impossible pork. Everything is takeout friendly and available for delivery through most of the city.

A container of food including rice and prawns. Patricia Chang

Han Il Kwan

Caleb Pershan

Widely regarded as one of the city’s best options for Korean barbecue, Han II Wan has been doing its thing in the Richmond District for years. It’s a causal, low-key place to get either an affordable lunch or a family-size dinner complete with soup, meat, seafood, noodles, and more.

Caleb Pershan

Manna

Inner Sunset residents turn to this Irving Street corner restaurant for its solid and extensive selection of Korean food — everything from spicy seafood stew to kimchi pancakes. You’ll likely see lots of diners digging into some variety of bibimbap, with the crispy rice buried under beef, vegetables, seafood or a combo of all three.

um.ma

Los Angeles-based chef and restaurateur Chris Oh’s Inner Sunset restaurant has resumed indoor dining, and you can still get some of San Francisco’s most famous fried chicken wings for takeout or to enjoy on the reservations-only back patio. If you dine on-site look forward to Um.ma’s handsome outdoor setup, which allows diners to stretch out under string lights while grilling Kurobuta pork belly and “LA-style galbi” on tabletop barbecues.

ILCHA

A tray of fried chicken with pickled vegetable and sauce at Ilcha. Photos by Reuben Kim

Almost equal parts Korean dining hotspot and drinking den, this casual Marina-Cow Hollow restaurant begs diners to wash down platters of crispy fried chicken and bubbling hot pots with sweet soju or golden-amber rice wine. The standout dish is a plate of soy-cured shrimp served alongside a bowl of rice topped with a fried egg and curls of dried seaweed.

A tray of fried chicken with pickled vegetable and sauce at Ilcha. Photos by Reuben Kim

BANSANG

Toast topped with scallops, uni, and ikura. Lauren Saria

Bansang may be part of the Daeho empire, but this modern Korean restaurant feels and tastes entirely different. In a high-ceilinged space near Japantown, chefs Jin Lim and Ethan Mi offer diners a parade of small plates — each clearly rooted in Korean cuisine but transformed with a combo of attention to detail and luxe ingredients like uni and caviar. For example, take the restaurant’s galbi: a thick double-cut short rib so tender the meat nearly falls off the bone, served over a swipe of pine nut sauce.

Toast topped with scallops, uni, and ikura. Lauren Saria

Daeho Kalbijim & Beef Soup

Braised short rib stew at Daeho Luke Tsai

If you’re at Daeho you’re probably ordering the kalbijim, a locally-famous behemoth comprised of rice cakes smothered in a sweet-spicy red sauce and buried under thick layers of beef short ribs so tender they fall away from the bone on their own accord — plus a fistful of cheese that’s blow torched tableside. Not excited about that prospect? There’s a whole slew of other meaty options including kalbitang (or beef rib soup) and beef bibimbap. Wait times can be long, so plan ahead or try to mini-outpost inside H Mart.

Braised short rib stew at Daeho Luke Tsai

The Lucky Pig

Korean stew from Lucky Pig Rob Aiavao

This Tenderloin Korean restaurant is a verified neighborhood gem, serving some of the city’s crispiest Korean fried chicken plus standards like tteokbokki rice cakes and budae-jjigae.

Korean stew from Lucky Pig Rob Aiavao

Surisan

From the owners of Kitchen Story and Sweet Maple, this Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant won’t win points for keeping things traditional but serves a blend of Korean and American plates for breakfast and brunch. Start your day with either eggs and bacon or something less common like braised short rib benedict.

Namu Stonepot

Read Review |
Stonepot from Namu Stonepot Namu Stonepot

Whether you get your fix at the Ferry Building farmers market or at the mid-Market storefront, Namu Stonepot promises a modern take on a Korean classic: rice bowls. The signature Namu Stonepot comes loaded with a rainbow of pickled vegetables, tofu, and kimchi over koshihikari rice. If you want something hearty try the gluten-free Mochiko Fried Chicken followed by a colorful boba tea.

Stonepot from Namu Stonepot Namu Stonepot

SAN HO WON

Chef Jeong-In Hwang at the grill at San Ho Won Eric Wolfinger

Chef Corey Lee (Benu) and Jeong-In Hwang lift the Korean barbecue experience to new heights at this wildly popular modern, minimalist restaurant in the Mission. At the center of the menu lies a selection of meats — everything from galbi to center cut beef tongue — all of which get charred on the restaurant’s custom grill fueled by lychee wood. Just make sure to save room for the excellent options from the other sections of the menu including various styles of kimchi, buttery sweet corn on the cob, and stew laden with silky tofu.

Chef Jeong-In Hwang at the grill at San Ho Won Eric Wolfinger

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