Hyang Won report (downtown Oakland lunch #3 of 2002)
Turnout was disappointingly small, with just Damon, Nathan, and I appearing. Given the huge threads recently asking about downtown Oakland restaurants, I'm hoping a few more adventurous souls will join the next lunch.
However, maybe you knew something about Hyang Won that kept you away. None of us were terribly impressed.
I ordered the bottom lunch special (sorry, they didn't have menus we could take!) -- described as "meat and vegetables in spicy soup". It was tasty, but difficult to eat, as the "vegetables" (which appeared to all be leeks or scallions) were very long.
Nathan was the most adventurous, ordering a seafood noodle dish. But they didn't cut the noodles enough to make it possible to eat; picking one up caused the entire mass to follow. Flagging someone down to cut them more was tricky (more on this later). It was also extremely spicy.
Damon tried the bi bim bop in the stone dish, and thought it was good, but kind of plain (all of the vegetables in it were things like spinach and carrots, rather than anything exotic). Nothing to write home about.
I would say the service was bad, but it was more like it was almost nonexistent. Several times we tried to flag someone down, but they steadfastly didn't notice us. Tea refills asked for never came until we asked again. And when we were ordering, we asked what was in the noodle dish... the server just kind of waved her hands in the air, apparently unable to come up with any useful words for us.
So all in all, it's probably not a restaurant I'll be returning to soon. Given two other Korean restaurants within a block of it, there are other choices.
Thanks for the report - at least I know NOT to try this one. You just saved a day of chowhounding time. Every meal is very valuable.
If you want more turnout, maybe post a new thread with chowhound gathering clearly marked and the location as the subject. Also don't forget to give enough time. I myself did not know that you're going to have one.