Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review: Stone Korean Kitchen, San Francisco

There's nothing quite like dinner and a movie for a date right? The Landmark at Embarcadero is one of my favourite cinemas in San Francisco, all documentaries and indie films and reminiscent of the Dendy in Australia. I'm always on the look out for good food nearby little theatres like this and so we stumbled upon Stone housed in a small back building near the tourist district of San Francisco. 

Like many business dristricts this area is quiet at night but the restaurant has mostly Korean diners and is packed by the time we're served dinner so this is always a good sign.

Korean alcohol like Cass & Hite beer are available. Most Korean beer is very light in flavour and designed to be drunk ice cold with steaming hot spicy food.

Banchan - free with meal

Small plates of pickles, vegetables and small fish are provided before the meal and refills are available. 

Spicy pork belly $21USD

A healthy serving of pork belly is marinated in gochujang chilli and vegetables. This isn't the best spicy pork I've ever had as the fat hasn't been rendered enough out of the pork. I'd skip this and get more beef or a bipimbap bowl.

Kalbi $21USD 

Beef short ribs are cut across the bone and marinated in a sweet soy and sesame dressing then grilled hot with brown onions. I prefer it when they leave the meat strips along the rib ready to be rolled out, but you can't have it all this is still a solid redition. The meat quality is fairly good and the marinade is not overpowering. 

Ssam for 2 $52

If you're going to get barbecue I definitely recommend this as the way to go. Two barbecue proteins with lettuce wraps, chilli, miso, sesame oil and salts and a serving of bowl of tofu kimchi stew. 

Ssam means "to wrap" and this is how you should eat Korean barbecue, take a piece of lettuce then spread with some chilli and/or miso. Top with hot vegetables and meat and then wrap the lettuce and eat whole like a taco. Delicious!

Cheese corn $7USD

In Japan this kind of food is known as yoshoku but I don't know the Korean name for it - essentially it  is "Western Food" but it is generally unrecognisable outside Asia. Gratin is a common form of yoshoku and corn served with mayonnaise and cheese is a fairly common side dish or topping. It's delicious though and a good accompaniment to all the meat. 

Soon doobu $16USD (or included with Ssam set meal)

Soon doobu - soft tofu stew - is one of my all time favourite dishes. Soft fresh silken tofu is cooked with vegetables and meat in a tomato, malt and chilli stew and topped with a raw egg. Served in a sizzling hot pot the egg cooks in the steaming stew. This is a very good rendition rich and spicy but not overpowering. Various levels of hotness are available, this dish comes default with seafood but we request it vegetarian. 

The service is fairly quick and the food is decent but not amazing. The Korean food in Japantown is definitely better quality but the soon doobu is excellent and I intend to return for some of their other homelier dishes rather than barbecue. They have various options of dolsot bipimbap - sizzling rice topped with meat, egg and vegetables that beg a return.

Stone Korean Kitchen

Embarcadero Center
4 Embarcadero Center
San Francisco, CA 94111

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