First Look: Namu Gaji in San Francisco

[Photograph: Wes Rowe]

When Namu, the restaurant by the Lee brothers (Dennis, David and Daniel), closed in the Richmond neighborhood, the people of San Francisco reacted strongly. Where else could we get a killer burger topped with kimchee relish? Or such a great pile of Korean fried chicken? Sure, the Namu team was still slinging flavor-packed Korean tacos and gamja fries at their Ferry Building Farmer's Market stand, but would that be enough?

Never fear, San Francisco. Namu Gaji, which just opened on the 18th Street power-block flanking Dolores Park, will fill your cravings for Namu favorites. And that's just the beginning. The Mission location was originally planned as an expansion of the Richmond spot, but following a dispute with their original landlord, Namu turned their focus to their new endeavor.

The clean, narrow space suggests a polished, rustic aesthetic, with a large, darkwood "gaji" (branch) winding its way across the ceiling. The open kitchen allows you to watch Dennis Lee at work, loading the grill up with hot coals and prepping massive cuts of ruby red beef.

A number of the most popular items from the original Namu menu make reappearances, including the burger, the okonomiyaki, and the spicy stonepot (all appearing under the "comfort" section of the menu). Other options include a market-driven tempura dish, a selection of raw fish, and grilled items, including a "very popular" beef tongue dish—apparently, the Mission crowd is much more adventurous with their ordering than the family-formatted Richmond scene.

Namu also has happy hour and take-out lunch offerings, with plans for a take-out window to cater to park-goers. Also coming up: large-format plates, including the famous fried chicken, whole fish, whole ducks, and more.

Check out photos of some dinner dishes in the slideshow »