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Jan 13, 2002 01:06 PM

Lunch at Koryo, Oakland

  • m

In search of lunch after Saturday’s tasting drills in Oakland, I started driving toward Kasper’s, then reconsidered when I realized that the Korean district of Telegraph Avenue was dead ahead. I pulled into a small corner shopping mall that houses a few Korean restaurants, and the words “wooden charcoal” caught my eye. Koryo Wooden Charcoal BBQ was open for lunch and passed the sniff test when I poked my head in. I was the fourth party to be seated just after noon. By the time I left at 1pm, there was a line of patrons waiting to be seated.

The menu was more extensive than I expected for a humble and not very big place. But I played it safe and went with the #1 lunch special, Gal Bee, $7.95, figuring that any establishment that’s proud enough to proclaim itself Wooden Charcoal BBQ should know what it’s doing with this standard. I was curious to see how many kinds of panchan I’d be offered as a lone diner, and was pleased when 10 small white dishes appeared, plus a bowl of clear soup. The battered and deep-fried chunks of potato were a new kind for me, and I particularly liked the marinated fresh seaweed with slices of raw jalapeño pepper. Also notable was an aged kimchi that melted in the mouth with deep and intense flavors. The Gal Bee – barbecued beef short ribs sliced off the bone – was a one-rib serving as a lunch portion. It had a tasty marinade, and while the meat stayed pink in the center the way I like it, I would have preferred more charred character.

The service was friendly and efficient and I felt I got good value for my money. I’d definitely go back to explore more from the menu. Suggestions?

4390 Telegraph Ave., #J
Open 7 days a week, 11am to 2am


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  1. I would definitely suggest bringing someone along so that you can do BBQ at the table. Then you get to cook it the way you like and you can order more than one meat to try out.

    Koryo's wood charcoal BBQ beats places that use lava rocks or just plain gas. It's been a few years since I ate there, but it's my favorite in the Bay Area. Any other Korean places that do wood charcoal BBQ?


    1 Reply
    1. re: Peter Yee

      At lunchtime, I didn't see anyone grilling at the table, although they definitely offer this option. I'd love to go there with a group and try more from the menu. What about things like the soups or yuke hwe (raw beef appetizer)?

      Also wanted to mention that the item I picked from the lunch menu was the most expensive at $7.95. The other things are all $5.95 with a couple items that are $6.95. I'll definitely go there again when I'm in the neighborhood for an inexpensive, varied and satisfying lunch.