No disrespect to the Colonel and his many years of service tying bolo ties with Gen. Omar Bradley, but there’s only one type of KFC for us — and it doesn’t start with “Kentucky.”
It’s Korean fried chicken. The biggest and newest location of rapidly expanding Boba Guys opened in late January in the Fillmore District, and in addition to tapioca pearls, it got some of the good KFC by nabbing chef Deuki Hong of restaurants Momofuku and Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, both of which are in New York (where, incidentally, there are now two Boba Guys locations).
Hong has opened Sunday Bird, a Korean pop-up of indefinite duration in the back of this bubble-tea shop, a place even dimmer than Toyose, a Korean fried chicken spot in an Outer Sunset basement. Amid vintage signs and adverts featuring domesticated poultry, Sunday Bird is open every day of the week.
Order at the same counter as Boba Guys, choosing among plenty of chicken dishes as well as things like poutine fries, milk buns, or pickles. (You can also go straight for the bird itself, getting quarter, half, and whole chickens with either a spicy chile or soy garlic sauce, plus sides like perilla slaw, honey butter bao-scuits, and chicharron).
Everything I tasted gets high marks, although prices for the chicken are steeper than the competition. Take the Sunday Birdies, a box of yangnyeom bites with fried rice cakes ($5 for the small, $9 for the large). They’re seasoned, but free of sauce, and while the stiff chew of the rice cakes is among the most beguiling textures in the universe, you get more bang for your buck at Aria in the Tenderloin, where 10 pieces of fried chicken are only $9.
The sillier, more creative dishes are appealing, and not always in obvious ways. The Flamin’ Corn Cheese ($5) sounds as though the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and gooey mozzarella sauce would smother everything, but onions are the alpha and the omega of this puppy. And the kimchi fried rice ($5) makes excellent use of chicken skin and a quail egg to render a perfect snack.
It could all use some highly effervescent beer to wash it down, and that’s coming. But in the meantime, this Boba Guys is open late, with nothing less than soft-serve ice cream. The base is Straus, although toppings like egg pudding and grass jelly are made in-house. You can even specify the level of sweetness, in five tiers. Suddenly, every day is like Sunday.
Sunday Bird, inside Boba Guys, 1522 Fillmore St., 415-967-2622, no website.