Namu SF Namu SF

A few weeks ago, between beautiful buttery bites at Bar Tartine (darnit, I was hoping the alliteration can go longer) and the much-lauded, little-delivered pizza at F+W, we stopped in for a sampling at Namu after being prodded by the fine ladies of Boobs4Food.

Aside: There’s nothing but love here at SinoSoul for Boobs4food: sexy cosmopolitan Taiwanese mamas keen on globetrotting, volunteerism, foodism, baking, all with a bit a Cali glam thrown in. The entire crew is just a blastedly good time.

Namu birthed itself nearly the same time as Momofuku Saam and made a small name dishing out Korean fusion food before the entire Kogi scene erupted. They were known for their Korean fried chicken and hence they were within my scope. Once upon a time, I threw together a Korean Fried Crack list on Yelp that comprised of 6 First to Reviews. Yessir, I was serious about the task of chasing frie dspicy chicken wings – yang nyeom tung dalk. In fact, back in February ’07, shortly after the New York Times piece on KFC was published, I chased said birds all the way to San Francisco, from Chicago:

Cocobang San Francisco Bul Dalk Fire Chicken

The first encounter with these fiery creatures was at Cocobang, a restaurant still in existence in the Tenderloin(?) section of SF. This version of K-chicken is more properly known as bul-dalk – fire bird, no relation to the crappy American car. We were looking for fried spicy goodness in Feb of 07, but instead found stir fried, tough poultry drenched in chili pepper paste that exceeded anything I was familiar with in Korean cuisine up to that time.

Since then, Chicken Day, with its heavily medicinal flavors, light airy skin with trimmed fat, has become our defaction KFC in Ktown. Yes, it has detractors, but I will defend the funky flavor with impunity.

Namu SF Fried Chicken KFC

Then you have the complete disaster at Namu. WTFBBQ? The server/college friend/restaurant partner/chef’s drinking buddy mentioned this is Namu’s version of fried chicken. It’s not Korean, it’s not Southern, it’s not anything. He’s 33% completely correct: this isn’t anything close to edible. Soggy skin? Present. Double fried? No. Spicy? No. Spices? No. Juicy white meat? AWOL. Flavorful dark meat? MIA. The ultra ghetto dis-franchised Popeyes Chicken, renamed Popeyes 2000, around the corner from my residence? The one carrying the $2 for 2 pieces leg & thigh special? Will KILL Namu’s fried chicken as long as I pour on some sweetened gochujang. I kid you not. And to all you disenchanted, misled, heavily monetized Korean Google kiddies in the Bay Area: I will gladly offer such Popeyes 2000 chicken to you, for free, if you leave a comment prior to hitting LA.

Namu Ramen

Think the meal will perk up after the criminal chicken? No sir, just order the ramen. House made noodles and “farmers market” means nothing here. This is the worst bowl of self-proclaimed “ramen” ever. I ain’t no Go Ramen, but this $12 bowl of wheaty waste was inedible. The noodles were cooked down to mush, the broth tasted like fat skimmed from a pot of dish washing water. For the price of 2 bowls of Taiwanese beef noodle soup after tax/tip, PLEASE stop treating this like a bowl of damned naeng myun and include a few more pieces of meat. Thankfully, Namu only makes 6 bowls of this atrocity a day.

Inspiration for this post? While browsing the upcoming Foodbuzz Festival’s dining program, I noticed food bloggers will be forced to eat a complete dinner directed by the chef of Namu, after a luncheon presented by Bertolli (insert groan). Enjoy that folks, at least it’s free.

Namu on Urbanspoon

PS. What did I find? A receipt that says.. o well: KFC

Namu SF Receipt



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  • Booooo! Booooo! I’m sorry you had to eat this.
    .-= weezermonkey´s last blog ..Afternoon Stroll in the Park =-.

  • Gee…expensive and not tasty? Bad! That is some awfully expensive “K F C” if you change the acronym to mean Kentucky Fried Chicken :). The bul-dalk doesn’t look that great either…looks rather like mush to me.

  • Well that is disappointing! I’m sorry to hear your meal was so terrible! Live and learn! Thanks for the warning!

  • Damn…I’ve heard mixed reviews of Namu and am interested in what they plan on serving us even more now. I did have their “real” Korean tacos at the SF Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, and I liked the filling, but was not really a fan of serving it on toasted seaweed. They would’ve been better off serving it in a tortilla because the whole point of the Korean taco is the fusion of cuisines. Serving it on seaweed just makes it an open-faced kimbap.

    Also, my Korean friends up here lament the Bay Area’s Korean offerings in comparison to LA, but the best stuff is in Oakland, Santa Clara or Sunnyvale and not SF.

  • Also, the best KFC I’ve had in the Bay Area is at a Korean Bar in Oakland, called Oriental BBQ Chicken Town (you gotta love the name). KFC isn’t the best, but it’s good enough and necessary if you’re getting hammered off yogurt soju or Korean beer.

  • TonyC

    Inuyaki: I have to say, I kinda liked Namu’s K-tacos. It was the only saving grace which prompted the “?” instead of “.” after “The worst of SF” in the title. The use of nori sheet really worked for me. Then again, as a child, I used to munch on nori as if it gifted by Neptune.

  • Liz

    oh, snap.
    .-= Liz´s last blog ..Ludobites at Royal/T in December =-.

  • collin

    ha. i appreciate that anyone can voice their opinions online, but i don’t think that people who read this should take your opinion on namu too seriously. namu is a restaurant that some of the best chefs in the country frequent. and while i’ve not had their kfc, i can attest to the ramen being downright excellent. for what it’s worth, i think you’ve missed the mark completely.

  • You know it’s funny that I read this after having eaten a dinner at Foodbuzz this weekend, prepared by the chefs and team from Namu, and I was disappointed. Several people had allergic reactions to the dashi, several people, including myself, got sick, and the food was coming out lukewarm and/or even cold, even though all the dishes (excluding the dashi) were served family style, so they weren’t even plating 300 times. It was timed and served poorly, and sorely disappointing coming from a place with such a good reputation.

    If I’m back in SF I’d be hesitant to try the restaurant.

  • juma

    dood, you went to SF for Korean food?

  • TonyC

    ^ LOLZ. TWICE. I went to SF for Korean food, TWICE. Apparently I learned nothing in 2.5 years.

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