SFReview

photo credit: Jeremy Chen

Bansang review image
7.9

Bansang

We keep specific restaurants in mind for special but laidback dinners. These places are casual enough where you can get a bit loud telling old stories, but not so informal that you’re dropping in wearing sweats and a t-shirt. Great shareable dishes (and drinks) are a must, too. Places that check off these boxes weren’t easy to find, but now we have Bansang. The moderately upscale Korean restaurant is our go-to for relaxed Friday night dates and first ever meet-ups with a friend’s new significant other over exciting small plates and soju cocktails.

This Fillmore spot from the Daeho people feels like a minimalist hotel lobby had a baby with the brown-tones page in a Pantone catalog. It’s a little posh, complete with hanging rattan lamps and a big gold chandelier. The menu mixes traditional Korean flavors with modern twists, like quail egg skewers hiding underneath shaved black truffle, rice cakes with gochujang tomato sauce, and charred romaine salads with bulgogi on top. Everything is plated with the attention we imagine JLo gives to her skin care routine, and lands on your table like presents.  

Jeremy Chen

Bansang review image

You’ll have as much fun eating the dishes as you will admiring the gorgeous spread. Crafting perfect bites out of the yellowtail crudo, prosciutto, and Korean melon slices is a great way to start things off. We always lick our fork clean when we dig into the roasted gochujang-coated beef tartare. And we never leave without ordering the galbi covered in a slightly sweet glaze. Dragging every piece through the pine nut sauce is a must. 

Not everything on the menu is a hit. The steamed egg doesn’t have the right velvety texture, the yuzu pear salad and scallop-and-trout roe-topped uni toast are a bit forgettable, and portions overall lean small. But despite these few misses, Bansang’s versatility makes it an excellent choice for casual-yet-nice dinners when we want to share kimchi tomatoes and fried rice with people we like. 

Food Rundown

Uni Scallop Toast

If you’re not someone who has a box of uni as their screensaver, this $29 three-biter isn’t mind-blowing enough to be necessary—there are more interesting things on the menu.

Jeremy Chen

Bansang review image

Mulhwe

There’s a lot going on, but this chilled dish comes together. Pickled daikon and cucumber give every bite a great crunch, and it’s all topped with slices of kelp-cured halibut and fermented chili broth, poured tableside.

Jeremy Chen

Bansang review image

Bulgogi Salad

If every salad had tender bulgogi resting on top of the charred romaine like this one does, we’d eat more salads. Order this to share.

Galbi

Thick pieces of fork-tender galbi in a sweet black glaze. It’s a decadent dish, but the soy-pickled pearl onion and side of melon kimchi cut through and balance it all out.

Jeremy Chen

Bansang review image

Radish Kimchi Fried Rice

This is one of the best dishes on the menu—we just wish the portions were bigger. There are soft chunks of soy-braised pork mixed throughout, a poached egg on top, and a healthy dose of parmesan blanketing everything.

Jeremy Chen

Bansang review image

Steamed Egg & Caviar

This is missing the silky consistency we look for in a steamed egg. You can skip.

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