We’ve been to Korea on several occasions and have definitely eaten our fair share of both fancy and street foods out there, so when we hit up this self-described “Korean street food” joint, we figured we knew what to expect. But ARIA, located at 932 Larkin St in San Francisco, showed us how they put their own spin on these Korean dishes and we are now officially diehard fans.
This Korean family has owned the shop since the 1970’s, although up until 2012 it was a fish and chips spot when they decided to flip it into a Korean street food place and the rest is history. They still had the fish fryers from the original restaurant, which they admittedly didn’t really use, but it was cool to see the old school designs.
To go along with their street food, they’ve decked out the shop in skateboards and dope stickers that line support beams and the walls along the counter seating.
They had actually mentioned that they were doing some renovations to the interior during November, which we’re beyond excited to see! They mentioned redoing the kitchen and replacing the unused fryers with equipment better suited to their style of cooking, which we can only imagine will make things more efficient and more awesome. More chicken to yo face!
So now onto the FOOD! Just look at that for a minute. That’s three of our favorite things all in one platter. Let’s start with the Sweet and Spicy Original Korean Fried Chicken. This is a definite must if you head to ARIA. We were told they get their chickens fresh every three days and simply close for the day if they run out. Now that’s commitment to fresh ingredients. And what kind of chicken meat has the most flavor? Dark meat. And Aria uses ONLY dark meat in their fried chicken. Boom. Moist and hella good. Their sauce is freakin’ amazing. It’s sweet and spicy, but not crazy hot. Get this and thank us (but mostly thank Aria) later.
Next up, check out the Kimbap, which is essentially Korean sushi, but you have your choice of six unique fillings here: bulgogi, spicy pork, tuna-mayo, veggie, kimchi, and cheese. We got to try the bulgogi version and it got us like whoa. Never thought to put Korean style meats into a roll, but we’re sure happy we did!
And finally, we got the Spicy Pork Bokkeum Ramen, which was the packaged Korean ramen noodles with a bunch of awesomeness added in including bean sprouts and pork, and topped off with a sunny side up egg. This former secret menu item became so popular that they moved it right onto the normal menu and have never looked back since.
This is one place where the love of the food and the passion goes well beyond the actual business. Owning and operating restaurants in the same location for over over 40 years – especially in a city like San Francisco – is an amazing testament to the food and to the family behind the scenes making everything run. They’re awesome, friendly people so head on over and eat up! Till next time, Nomsters!