Sudachi Sushi & Korean BBQ’s menu brims with classic teriyaki and bulgogi as well as eclectic variants such as chicken katsu quesadillas and vegetable teriyaki burritos. Chefs assemble a slate of premium sushi rolls with names such as the Rodeo Roll, What the Heck Roll, and Las Vegas Roll.
Where to Sit: You won’t find any tables at this tiny hole-in-the-wall, so be prepared to take your meal to go.
When to Go: There’s usually a line out the door during peak lunch hours, though it moves fast. If you don't want to wait, go for a late lunch.
While You're in the Neighborhood: After lunch, explore more than 6,000 pieces of animated art at the Cartoon Art Museum (655 Mission Street).
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Sample more Korean fusion dishes, including bulgogi enchiladas and oyster-kimchi po’ boys, at HRD (521A 3rd Street).
Playground serves up classic Korean dishes and a few American standards, whether you’re fueling up before a long night of karaoke or stopping in for a few happy hour bites. Bibimbap comes in beef or spicy seafood varieties, while a house sauce sweetens thin-sliced bulgogi. Shareable finger foods, such as popcorn chicken and garlic fries, make grabbing a bite between songs easy.
Soju—a Korean spirit that’s generally made with rice—is similar to vodka but lower in ABV. This smooth liquor dominates the drink menu and can be ordered on its own or in one of many tantalizing fruity cocktails, such as lychee or mango. But it’s not all about soju. The drink list also offers domestic and European beers, along with Korean brews like Hite and OB. A full liquor selection rounds out the choices, including 17 different whiskey options.
Guests gather in Playground’s private karaoke rooms, which can hold up to 20 people or 5 hyenas. Lyrics flicker on a flat-screen television as singers croon, cushioned by leather banquettes. Note that a food and beverage minimum applies to private room rental.
When to Go: Um Ma Son is open for dinner, supper, and fourth meal seven nights a week (5:30 p.m–midnight).
Inside tip: The restaurant doesn’t serve hard liquor, but it does offer a small selection of beer, including Korean imports like OB.
Banchan: small side dishes served with Korean cuisine, traditionally composed of a variety of kimchi, marinated vegetables, and meat dishes.
Japchae: Korean sweet-potato glass noodles stir-fried in sesame oil with vegetables and flavored with soy sauce and sugar. The dish is served hot or cold, sometimes with beef.
The barbecue masters at CJ BBQ Restaurant serve up slow-cooked meats including ribs, hot links, and pulled pork. They slather four types of ribs in housemade sauce, allowing guests to choose from pork, beef, baby back, and Korean-style versions. Other Korean specialties on the menu include kimchi ramen, hot spicy chicken, and bibimbap.
About the Owners: After 19 years in a delicatessen catering department, Ramana Brodeth knew her way around a sandwich. In 2010, she and her sons, TJ and Mark, opened Lou’s Cafe. One of them is always behind the counter, crafting inventive, satisfying sandwiches and topping them with Lou’s Special Sauce, a housemade garlic-and-herb aioli.
From the Press
Dutch crunch: also called “tiger bread,” this roll features a mottled exterior that hides a soft, chewy center. Bakers use sesame oil to lend it a distinct aroma, and paint the top with rice paste before baking it to create a cracked appearance and salty-sweet flavor.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Take a stroll through Clement Nursery (1921 Clement Street), the oldest in SF, housed in lovingly restored farm buildings.
After: Make a picnic of it and let the kids run around the renovated Argonne Playground (18th Avenue & Geary Boulveard); three picnic tables sit alongside the tennis courts.