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Before They Were Restaurants: Foxsister’s Transition From Slanted Door

Pork Lettuce Wraps by Foxsister

The Beginnings

Foxsister chef Brandon Kirksey didn’t plan on becoming a Korean chef. He started his career in San Francisco fourteen years ago at Jardinière and The Grand Cafe. After honing his skills on the line, Kirksey relocated to Seattle to establish several Italian restaurants. He returned to San Francisco briefly to be chef de cuisine at flour+water, but went back to Seattle to help open Girin, a Korean steakhouse. His background in butchery and noodle-making translated well to this new concept.

Kirksey received numerous accolades during his time at Girin, including a James Beard nomination for “Best Chef Northwest.” His tenure there also unearthed his passion for Korean cooking. After two years, he came back to San Francisco to be chef de cuisine at The Slanted Door, the popular upscale Vietnamese restaurant. He has since left this post to pursue his own restaurant endeavor full time.

Authentic Cuisine, Not Fusion

Kirksey says that his version of Korean cuisine is not fusion, but instead a recreation of authentic dishes. He modeled his popup Anju Bar after a modest Korean establishment where people socialize and eat communally. “Anju” literally means “drinking snacks.” Kirksey’s flavors are recognizable, but with something to elevate the experience. He presents the dishes in a more finessed manner than traditional Korean ones while maintaining a rustic, family-style feel. He also infuses his Korean dishes with high-quality Bay Area produce and meat.

Foxsister's Dumplings

Foxsister’s Dumplings

Kirksey may not be making kimchi meatballs, but he has carried over some Italian techniques. He processes his own ingredients and crafts the major elements of his menus entirely from scratch, like wonton wrappers and dumpling fillings. Kimchi is his proudest accomplishment, and he ferments it right in his San Francisco kitchen.

For his Napa cabbage variety, he soaks the entire head in a salt brine and rubs it with a paste of Korean chili flakes, fish sauce, and salted shrimp. After packing it in earthenware jars, he leaves it to ferment at room temperature. Five days yields a fresher kimchi for eating raw, while a couple of weeks produces a funkier suitable for soups or stews.

Anju Bar Becomes Foxsister

Kirksey has now turned his Anju Bar into his first brick and mortar. Dubbed Foxsister after a character in Korean lore, this casual establishment is located in the lively 24th Street Mission corridor. Expect dishes like Korean fried chicken, handmade dumplings, fall-off-the-bone ribs, and savory pancakes. These salty and savory plates pair perfectly with Kirksey’s eclectic roster of Asian beers, soju cocktails, and adult slushies.

Foxsister at Feastly


  1. Serena Bardell says

    Please explain whether 6-8 means everyone must be seated at 6.

    • Cleo Tarca says

      Hi Serena,

      The start times of Feastly events are roughly when the chefs will deliver their first courses, so plan to be there as close to it as you can. For specific questions about how a particular meal will run, feel free to message the chef through their Feastly profile. Hope that helps!

      • Serena Bardell says

        Thanks so much. Alas, about too early for us.
        Organics and sustainability really important to me.

  2. Serena Bardell says

    That was “a bit too early”; smart phone overruled. Hope it doesn’t do it again.

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  4. Unhei says

    Brandon cooks amazing Korean food! Reading his bio, I completely understand why he’s so gifted! His “Steak, Ssam, and Makgeolli!” was absolutely delicious and I’m still thinking about it! Wish he also cooked in the East Bay.

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