We found ourselves at San Francisco’s Japantown in need of a little lunch. We are firm believers of the saying, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do,” which would naturally mean dining at a Japanese restaurant in J-Town. But for some reason neither one of us felt like eating Ramen or waiting in line for sushi that day, so we went for the next best thing: Korean Fried Chicken (KFC). We usually satisfy our KFC cravings in the South Bay, where there is a plethora of Korean restaurants along Stevens Creek Boulevard, but the 2-month new Ssisso beckoned us to give their version a try.
Opened by the same owners as the upstairs Playground restaurant that also has private karaoke rooms, Ssisso (the Korean word for see-saw) offers a different menu than it’s big sister, focussing more on Korean fusion and street food. It is a cavernous restaurant with two floors and minimalist decor with wooden tables and cafeteria style chairs surrounding a couple of barstool-high communal tables.
After we placed our order, the server brought several individual bowls of assorted banchan (Korean appetizers). The pickled daikon at the far end is part of the KFC package, but in addition to the traditional banchan of kimchi, fish cakes, pickled vegetables and anchovies, they provided a minced broccoli salad with mayonnaise. Most of the banchan selections were very good:
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We asked our server for a couple of glasses of beer and when she verified that she would bring us a “cup” of beer and walked away, we immediately panicked that she might bring our brews served in teacups. Thankfully she brought us our Asahi beers in pint glasses (not properly topped off, but they weren’t teacups). We checked the drink menu later and sure enough, beer is indeed ordered by the “cup:”
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Their lunch menu is more limited than their dinner menu, but they do offer some bargain lunch specials in addition. We thought we would try the pork cutlet lunch special, but our waitress must have misunderstood us since she brought us the spicy pork served over rice with a fried egg and sautéed greens. It didn’t matter how our pork came since this dish was pretty good:
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The KFC can be ordered plain or Ssisso-style, which bathes the chicken in a house garlic soy sauce. The wing pieces were stacked up in a pyramid and were very crispy despite the liberal application of sauce. The delicious chicken was served with a green salad that was overly doused with a mayo-based salad dressing:
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Make sure to look up if you are seated downstairs, since they have at least three TVs projecting whatever sports is on at the moment along the mezzanine walls. It’s great to know that KFC can also be found in San Francisco and Ssisso’s version is worth coming back for.