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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Jänchi Korean Gastropub Improves Dramatically on Its Ill-Fated Predecessor

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2015 at 1:15 PM

click to enlarge KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) - PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • KFC (Korean Fried Chicken)

When I wrote about the ill-fated ManDu a few months ago, I said that the Castro Korean restaurant would become a place to party. Well, I was half right: They got a little rodent infestation. Whether the Health Department observed rats guzzling soju cocktails or a $145 bottle of Kudoki Jozu “Pick Up Artist” sake, we aren’t sure, but they shut the place down on May 1.

click to enlarge Buddae jiggae (army stew) - PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • Buddae jiggae (army stew)

And now it’s back as the considerably better Jänchi Korean Gastropub, in the space that was Barracuda Sushi as recently as the start of the year. The third incarnation is serving everything from KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) to a jellyfish salad made with a sweet mustard dressing. It’s better than ManDu, has a full liquor license on top of it, and it’s better than that other Korean restaurant with a short shelf life in a cursed space in the Castro, K-Pop.

click to enlarge Kimchi pancake. - PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • Kimchi pancake.
About that KFC, it’s very good. At 10 pieces for $14.95, the price isn’t bad but it’s a little disconcerting when some pieces are boneless and others aren’t. A kimchi pancake, ($6.95) while a little subtle compared to the heavily sauced dishes, had a strong onion-y flavor and was cooked exactly right. Surprisingly, the bibimbap ($11.95) was on the bland side, but the sleeper hit was the budae jiggae (or “army stew,” $14.95) a spicy anchovy broth with hot links, SPAM, American cheese, bacon, kimchi, tofu, ground pork, beans, and rice cakes. Listing all those ingredients in descending order of processed-ness might deter some people, but it’s truly among the best I’ve tasted. When mixed, it brought that bibimbap to life.

There are sweet-sounding drinks like cucumber martinis and ginger lemon drops, half-liter carafes of soju cocktails, and “hard bombs” (shots of tequila, gin, rum, or vodka with a Sapporo). So, like ManDu, it might be a great spot to hang out with your friends and get kinda drunk with dinner, but all signs point to a better kitchen. Let’s just hope Jänchi doesn’t get strangled in the cradle like its predecessor.

Jänchi Korean Gastropub, 2251 Market, 415-558-8567.

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About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.


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