Panchan Drunk

FuseBox chef Sunhui Chang's slogan is "I bleed kimchi"

Ask people who haven't been to Korea what they think of the country's food, and they'll probably talk meat: bulgogi, grilled pork belly, short-rib stew.

But at FuseBox, Sunhui and Ellen Sebastian Chang's three-month-old West Oakland restaurant, vegetables run riot. Brussels sprouts ($1), snap peas ($1.50) brushed in a miso-based paste, and king oyster mushrooms ($1.50) are threaded onto slim wood sticks for Sunhui's kkochi-gui (skewers). Tokio turnip greens are pressed into a knob of ohitashi ($2.50) crowned with fingernail-size curls of dried anchovies.

And the restaurant's rice bowls and sandwiches are ringed by a host of pickled vegetables. 

Born in Korea and raised in Guam, the chef makes a classic cabbage kimchi for his panchan (side dish) selection, as well as a gorgeous, earthy kale kimchi (see recipe here). He preserves nori with soy sauce and breakfast radishes with rice-wine vinegar; sometimes the panchan include half-moons of Guamanian pickled green mango, a childhood favorite.

To date, FuseBox, a jewel box entered through a sunny, gated courtyard, has only been open for lunch Wednesdays through Saturdays. Even if you have to return to work after your meal, it's worth trying one of the chef's other projects: a shot of soju ($4) aged for a year in a charred oak barrel until it becomes smoky and smooth.

FuseBox, 2311A Magnolia St. (at W. Grand Ave.), Oakland; 510-444-3100 or fuseboxoakland.com