Getting lunch downtown is always a struggle of where should I go? Will the line be too long? Is it affordable? Is it good? Can I walk there on my lunch hour? And on and on...you get my point. So it was on this particular day that all these questions ran through my mind. Just to be different and see some new options I walked down Kearny Street which is abuzz with Financial District lunchers. At the cross section with Bush Street I saw this to my left
having eaten in some pretty scary looking places from Cambodia to China to Spain to Iceland, I decided to take a chance as sometimes good things can be found in crap packaging. Entering the door, you then head downstairs to a basement that is white tile lined and filled with tables and little food bars with cuisines from different countries, much like a mall food court but without all the screaming kids and teenagers.
yeah, I know what you're thinking, looks kind of sketchy, and I thought the same thing too. However,
Once you can get past the fact you are underneath a building in earthquake land you have the choice of food types like Filipino, Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, etc. After circling the place a couple times to see what my stomach wanted I decided to go with the Korean BimBim Bar (they don't really have a website so keep an open mind)
After looking at the menu I decided to stay a little on the healthy side and pass on the pork belly, this time, and got the marinated chicken bimbim bap.
You get to pick bases and toppings so I got a mix of brown rice and japchae (rice noodles) and had them load up with the toppings--carrots, kimchi, cabbage, pickled radish, bean sprouts, shredded egg, lettuce, and a shredded fruit that was either mango or pineapple. You then get a choice of sauces and I went some moderately spicy drizzled over the top. As you can see the portions are huge and the bowl was surprisingly tasty. The chicken was tender, juicy and nicely flavored and mixing all the toppings together gives you buzzes of sweet, sour, spicy, salty and somehow it all works. Full of color, freshness and crunchiness I really enjoyed this dish. On this day they were also giving away free small bowls of sweet and spicy soup which was ick dreadful--and while it was spicy, the sweet taste was off, almost like a fake sweetness plus the texture was a little too thick for a soup. If they offer it to you free or otherwise you should pass. Stick with the rice bowl, it's a real winner and this underground lunch dining gem should be on your hidden finds list of places to try in town. It will be one of those places you take out of town friends to just to show them you are in the know about off the beaten track eateries. Go ahead, take a chance and eat beneath the streets of San Francisco.