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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Jonathan Kauffman Takes on S.F.'s Korean Junk Food Explosion

Posted By on Wed, Mar 10, 2010 at 10:19 AM

click to enlarge The kimchi-pork hot dog from John's Snack and Deli. - J. KAUFFMAN
  • J. Kauffman
  • The kimchi-pork hot dog from John's Snack and Deli.
It's happened. Thanks to vivid incarnations dished up via John's Snack and Deli, Seoul on Wheels, and Namu Street Food, Korean-fusion junk food has entered the popular vernacular in S.F., inspired by local tastes and the West Coast's grand poobah of the trend, L.A.'s Kogi. Today in "Eat," SF Weekly food critic Jonathan Kauffman checks on the current state of sushi cognate kimbap, the Korean burrito, and Namu's 420-friendly gamja fries, among other kimchi-heaped exemplars. Read the full review at, after sampling SFoodie's gochujang-spiked taste (after the jump). And in today's "Eat" Extra, check out Kauffman's guide to chasing down Korean taco trucks on the Peninsula.

Kogi wouldn't have become a national phenomenon if the rest of America wasn't finally assimilating Korean flavors. Thanks to new cookbooks from David Chang and Cecilia Lee, for instance, kimchi has become the probiotic DIY project of choice. Just like every other assimilated cuisine, assimilation has meant editing a grand culinary heritage down to a few shorthand scribbles -- mainly bulgogi, spicy pork, kimchi, and gochujang (sweet fermented chile paste). All over San Francisco, Korean-American restaurateurs -- up and down the price range from bistro chefs to proprietors of mom-and-pop delis -- have used this shorthand to craft a glorious new culinary form: Korean-fusion junk food.

Follow us on Twitter: @SFoodie. Have a food or dining question for Jonathan Kauffman? Ask nice at

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