by Jesse Hirsch
In a striking West Oakland industrial property, without a single restaurant or shop in sight, chef Sunhui Chang’s new street-Korean experiment Fusebox (2311A Magnolia Street, Oakland, 510-444-3100) is slated to open next week. Housed in a tiny space carved out from a former oxygen plant, Fusebox has preserved a stark simplicity well-suited for the neighborhood.
Korean-born Chang said he based the concept on the soju bangs (literally, rooms for drinking soju) of Korea, which he loves for their obscure, industrial locales. For this particular corner of West Oakland, right near the Emeryville border, he thinks it will give neighborhood residents a cure for their cabin fever.
I stopped by for a preview meal last week, and was intrigued by many of the offerings, including the pork-butt udon soup, the bacon-wrapped mochi with pickled mustard seeds, the cubes of house-made tofu crusted in rice flour, the spicy-sweet fried chicken, and the array of pickled things (shitake mushrooms, sparkler radish, bok choy, etc.).
Chang uses well-sourced, organic ingredients, but he’s keeping the menu mostly under ten bucks: “No elitism here,” he said. He’ll start with a lunch-only service, which he hopes will draw in neighborhood laborers (builders, cabinet makers, stoneworkers, East Bay MUD employees).
As summer approaches, Fusebox will expand to dinner hours. Chang also intends to expand the miniscule twenty-seat indoor space with an outdoor patio, replete with a soft-serve machine and grill.
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