Although there is a lot of pretty good, inexpensive Asian food over in the Sunset, there is probably only one reason why I rarely venture over there for a meal. It’s so frickin’ cold!!! I know, I know… that sounds like a weak excuse especially if the food is truly that good, but that tells you how much I can’t stand crappy weather. It’s amazing how it can be relatively warm and clear on the Eastern part of the city closer to the bay, but as you head West toward the ocean, it starts to get cold, windy, and gloomy. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find a good 5-8 degree difference in temperature between two parts of the city that are less than 6 miles apart. However, even though I rarely suggest dining destinations in the Sunset, I’m always pretty open to checking it out at some else’s request. So when Pcess suggested eating at Toyose, I was open to trying it even though it was located way the hell out in the OUTER Sunset…. and boy was it! However, since Pcess, ElleC and MissMM had raved about the Kimchi Fried Rice, Pdho and I were excited to meet up with them to give it a try.
Pcess introduced me to this Bulgogi Kimchi Tofu dish back in the day when we used to go to Players, this bar/lounge in K-Town NYC. I don’t think I’ve ever had it anywhere else since I moved away from NYC, so once I chowed into the tofu and bulgogi, it definitely brought back memories. What I really like about this dish is how the spicy flavor of the sauteed kimchi, onions and bulgogi is balanced out by the neutral taste from the tofu. It was good.
I’ve rarely been disappointed by the seafood and green onion pancake at almost any Korean restaurant, but I think it’s because I really like it. The one thing that can make or break a Haemol Paejun for me is the ratio of ingredients that go into it. This pancake had a good mix of squid (which was chopped into nice bite-sized portions) as well as vegetables and green onions, and the batter itself was thick without being too doughy.
The Kimchi Fried Rice is so darn good that the girls insisted on two orders of it. I’m still trying to get a feel for what good Kimchi Fried Rice should taste like. More than a couple versions have been soggy and mushy, as of they added all the kimchi juice into the rice and failed to fry off enough of it. Also, I’ve noticed that some places don’t cut up the kimchi leaves, and personally, I find the long leaves annoying. Neither of those complaints were a problem with the Kimchi Fried Rice here. In addition to the flavor of kimchi, there was a mix of beef, onions and egg pretty evenly distributed throughout each and every bite.
The first and only time I’ve ever had this budae jigae was in Ann Arbor, MI (of all places). It’s a soup with a potpourri of ingredients including wiener sausages, spam, tofu, vegetables and ramen noodles, and the origin of it comes from the Korean War when the American army introduced processed meats like spam and sausages to the Koreans. It is definitely a random mix of odd ingredients, but it’s strangely tasty at the same time. The soup has such a rich mix of flavors, and what can I say… I like spam!
Overall, despite Toyose’s far off location, the food is surprisingly tasty and probably worth a trip to the Outer Sunset. I make a big deal out of how far it is, but it literally was only a couple of blocks from the Great Highway which runs smack dab along the ocean. Nevertheless, although there is zero ambiance, the food is good and the prices are in line with its remote location.
3814 Noriega St
San Francisco, CA 94122
PAFO Ratings for Toyose:
Price 2½ stars
Ambiance 2½ stars
Food 3½ stars
Overall rating 3½ stars