San Francisco has not escaped the national Sriracha shortage in quite the same way it has escaped extreme heat engulfing much of the country thanks to a blanket of seemingly endless fog.
Customers applying a stiff five-finger discount to bottles of the sought-after Huy Fong Sriracha hot chili sauce at city restaurants have not gone unnoticed. Bottles have even been listed online for $100, while the store price has more than doubled to $10—if you can find it, that is.
An Excelsior neighborhood restaurant is now making the most of the shortage with an offer of a free bottle if you order a $75 dish of haemul jjim that serves up to five people, or two bottles of premium soju, which vary in cost depending on what you pick.
The Korner Store Bites & Vibes—which owner Ina Jungin Lee runs with her husband, Nick—is described as a Korean restaurant and bar that sometimes feels like a club.
Here's the deal: When you visit the 4516 Mission St. restaurant and order Lee's mom's signature family-style haemul jjim dish, once you've finished enjoying yourself at the restaurant, you'll be presented with a 28-ounce bottle of Huy Fong Sriracha sauce to take home.
The haemul jjim dish is laden with spicy seafood and seasoned with a red chili pepper paste called gochujang.
"It's not like crazy spicy, but it has an enjoyable spiciness," Lee said.
The restaurant was previously based in the Mission at 736 Valencia St. and moved to its new location in February.
As for how the restaurant wound up with a windfall of the most sought-after Sriracha sauce in stock, Lee points to a window in 2021 when pandemic-era supply-chain issues eased and the price of the chili sauce fell.
"After months passed and the price came back to normal," Lee said, "I felt like: 'Oh my God, this is like a treasure.'"
Then Lee forgot about her purchase until coming recent articles about this year's shortage.
"When I confirm that it's real and we are experiencing a shortage of [sauce] and a price increase again," she said, "I'm like: 'Oh my God, I have bottles. What can I do?'"
Lee wanted her promotion to serve not just as a complementary blending of spicy taste profiles but as a way to show her huge respect for the Huy Fong brand.
George Kelly can be reached at email@example.com