At long last, after a last-minute delay and a four-month wait since the closing of Namu, Namu Gaji is set to debut next Wednesday, April 11, at the prime corner of 18th and Dolores. The new project from brothers Dennis, Daniel, and David Lee is going to be izakaya-like in style, but with both Korean and Japanese influences, and some new menu items and less commonly seen grilled stuff, like fish bellies, fin meat, and cubed beef tongue that takes seven days to get the necessary level of crispy char.
Expect also to see chef Dennis Lee's well known Korean Fried Chicken (KFC), as well as house-fermented kimchee made from strains of bacteria from his family’s village in Korea, flown in by his aunt especially for the new restaurant. There'll also be raw-bar items, dumplings, a burger, and kimchee-oyster okonomiyaki on the menu as well. (Update: See the full menu here.)
You'll see the decor is simple and spare, with a design by Brian Ford that's meant to evoke a traditional Korean home, and centers on a prominent sculptural redwood branch, stained black, that hangs over the center of the room ("gaji" means "branch").
The restaurant will be walk-in only, though you may be able to reserve for groups of six or more by emailing email@example.com. As an added bonus (and to cater to the park-sitting crowd), they'll be operating a daytime takeout window from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily with a limited menu.
Along with this weekend's opening of Cerveceria de MateVeza, those two adjacent corners of Dolores Park just got way more well-stocked with provisions!
Namu Gaji - 499 Dolores Street at 18th - 415.431.6268 - Opens April 11 - Daily happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.; dinner served from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.; take-out window open daily 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Mondays.