This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
KQED: How would you describe a Korean corn dog to someone who doesn’t know what it is?
We get a lot of customers who don’t know what it is, actually—but afterwards they love it. American corn dogs use cornmeal for batter, but Korean uses regular flour and primarily rice flour. With rice flour, it gives the dough a really light, crispy and slightly chewy texture that is similar to mochi. For the interior we use all-beef hot dogs or mozzarella cheese. We serve a combo dog as well, which is half and half. But what makes Korean corn dogs special is that after skewering the hot dogs and cheese, the corn dogs are rolled in different toppings. Depending on what the customer wants, we have panko, french fries, Hot Cheetos, cornflakes, sugar and various other toppings to add to the texture and flavor.
When did the original STIX in the Sunset District open, and when did you add the Burlingame location?
My husband [Michael] and I opened the Sunset location in 2019. My husband grew up in San Francisco and went to high school right up the street, at Lincoln. There are a lot of mom-and-pop shops around here. When we first visualized starting a business, we wanted to do something together, just for us. We wanted to create something that was all our own. The Sunset was the perfect location. It’s very family oriented and neighborhood friendly—it feels personal. We only do to-go orders from there, since it’s a smaller storefront.
We opened the Burlingame location in February . Downtown Burlingame is more high-end, and there’s big chains there. You can dine in at that location and the interior is remodeled. It seems like less people know what Korean corn dogs are, but they come in surprised and leave loving our food. It makes me feel really happy when we can introduce people to them.
What inspired you to bring Korean corn dogs to the Bay Area?
I always wanted to open a restaurant but wasn’t sure what food to serve. I’m a foodie, so I’m on Instagram checking out the food trends and what new restaurants are out there. In 2018, the Korean corn dog was already starting to trend in the US There were a few spots in LA but there wasn’t much in the Bay Area—and it was only in the South Bay. It’s funny because you think of San Francisco having a diverse foodie scene, but I was surprised that no one had opened a Korean corn dog restaurant. That’s when we decided to just do it ourselves. We had to bring it to San Francisco, and we did. It took trial and error to get the recipe right—the batter and the amount of it. But we eventually figured it out.
Do you know the origin of the Korean corn dog?
It’s originally from South Korea’s night market scene. Street food [in Asia] is just big—lots of fun, creative foods. The first time we tried the corn dog was actually on a trip to Asia in 2019. It was all over in Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong. We ate one in Japan. It was wow, just really delicious and I wanted more.
You also serve boba and french fries, in addition to corn dogs. What are some of your most popular side items?