Toyose: Late Night Korean Haven in the Outer Sunset
Un-expected pockets of commerce are scattered like playing cards on the beat-up, grey basement table that is The Sunset District. One such pocket is located on Noriega in the upper Forties. There’s a little bit of everything: a hair salon, a locals-only dive, a small market; a taqueria, a pedicurist, and a florist. Oh, and then there’s a Korean restaurant. Where you ask is this particular spot? I asked myself the same question upon cruising up to a nondescript garage door where Google had assured me would be found my destination.
Toyose is well-camouflaged, both in physical terms and those pertaining to publicity; a chef friend of mine, who usually has his ear to the ground concerning all things Korean and late-night, had never heard of it. Perhaps they’d rather keep it that way. Too bad (I’m no Michael Bauer, that dick, but somebody’s gotta be reading my shit), because their thing is too idiosyncratic to go un-noticed for much longer. As I said, it’s late-night, serving food and drink til two am in the morning.
After throwing open the converted garage door, you enter into a scene familiar to people who frequent joints of Toyose’s ilk (see an earlier article about one such spot in The East Bay). Tables are situated on one side, designed vis a vis wooden partitions to facilitate a cozy feeling of privacy for groups of four to six. Though on the higher side, the menu is divided succinctly into Sauteed, Noodle, Stew, Hot Pot, Deep Fried, and House Favorites. All the dishes demand to be shared. Washing down things like baby octopus, gizzard, Spam stew, and pollock roe hot pot is a selection of Soju, priced at 11 dollars for a small bottle and pitchers of beer for 13. Served alongside your selections are the familiar collection of small bites called Banchan (Kimchee being the most well-known example) ubiquitous in Korean restaurants.
One more bizarre wrinkle: when you require some service of one of the three white denim hot pants-clad waitress, you press a button on the wall above your table. It’s a weird, slightly unseemly arrangement that only adds to Toyose’s atmosphere of complete disconnect from the world outside.
3814 Noriega Street (@ 45th Avenue)