Korean Barbeque Lovers

I grew up eating meals in the kitchens of my Korean friends and frequenting Woo Lae Oak for birthday parties and Father’s Day (that would be the original Woo Lae Oak on Western and Wilshire thank you very much–none of this BH/Soho b.s.).  

When I moved to Oakland in 2006 I was happy to find an abundance of Korean barbeque in the city.  The first one I ever visited (and a favorite to this day) was Sahn Maru.  It’s kind of like eating at your Korean grandmother’s house.  Great seafood pancake, amazing spicy pork bulgogi (perhaps my favorite ever), and kind service.  No barbeque-ing at the tables there though, and frankly, I don’t miss it.  Who needs to get all smoky and pay to cook their own dinner?  Not I.

sahn-maruThe humble decor isn’t the draw here, but it’s comfy.  And anyway, the price of upscale decor in Korean restaurants often amounts to being forced to listen to house music or mid-90’s “down-tempo” grooves for your entire meal. 

Another favorite is Ohgane.  Newer, sleeker, and larger than Sahn Maru, I find Ohgane to be a nice place to go just to mix things up a little.  It’s also a bit livelier than Sahn Maru if you’re looking for more of a night-out-on-the-town type place.  I love the thinly sliced radish they bring with the lettuce leaves here. 

Finally there is Jong Ga House.  Before it was A Rockridge Life, it was a Grand Lake Life, and Jong Ga was right around the corner.  This place has funky decor and a bar, which up the kitsch factor.  My favorite part of Jong Ga is the cold and spicy noodle soup offered gratis while you wait for your order.  

I’m trying to get up the nerve to bring the bulgogi home tonight and make my own.  I’ve looked at a few recipes, and it doesn’t look too hard, though I don’t know how close I’ll get in terms of authenticity.  Here are three recipes I’m considering. 

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Korean Barbeque Lovers

  1. I love Jong Ga, and bulgogi. There is only ONE Korean restaurant in downtown Oakland now (a year ago there were four), and I miss it! I will take you recommendation to visit Sahn Maru. I’ve also been itching to try the all-tofu Korean restaurant, also on Telegraph.

  2. Anderson Cooper

    I think you took that photo from the table we sat at when we went there.

    I actually have really vivid/odd memories about eating at that Western and Wilshire WLO with the Changs as a kid. I hope they haven’t changed the carpets there. I also think I have never seen maraschino cherries quite as red as I saw there in that dim restaurant.

    I reckon you know it, but the BH WLO has become pretty much one of two restaurants my family goes to consistently on special occasions with the other being – wait for it – Il Fornaio. Embarassing.

    I actually make a really mean Bulgogi marinade. You guys have a grill?

  3. saddleshoos

    Wilshire WLO is long gone : (

    BH is cool. It’s just not the same as the old days though. Plus I’m actually a major Il Fornaio lover. Is that bad?

    Updates on last nights bulgogi to follow. We grill!

  4. Anderson Cooper

    I guess the third regular Cooper family dining option is the BC. Dinner there yesterday and the night prior.

    Looking forward to seeing how “Last Night’s Bulgogi (LNB)” turned out. Last Night’s Bulgogi is a good name for a cooking blog, I reckon.

    I’ll bring my recipe for the Bulgogi marinade with me this week to leave with you. It’s a summertime in Brooklyn Anderson Cooper signature dish.

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