Korean Food in Oakland.
I'm pretty new to Korean food. I'd like a good place in the East Bay to introduce myself to good Korean food. Give me the most authentic, tasty place. I've heard Koryo BBQ is a really good place to go.
Any comments or suggestions? Thanks!!!
At Koryo, you can get a table with a charcoal burner. There are vent fans above those tables, and they bring real charcoal in a hibachi-type device. You grill your own meat, accompanied by the noise of the vent fans. If you don't get one of the special tables, they cook the food in the kitchen.
At Sahn Maru (4315 Telegraph), they cook some of the food at the table, with propane stoves. We like the black goat stew for two; if you get just one order, they don't cook it at the table. Very sweet people, as was noted.
Try both places; the experience is somewhat different.
It depends on what you want. Ohgane is known for their saeng kalbi, a fresh unmarinated kalbi cooked on a hot stone or metal plate, not over coals, and dipped in a salty sesame oil sauce; I don't like the other meats at Ohgane because the marinade is a little sweet for my taste. Sahn Maru is interesting if you want to expand your palate and try some regional Korean dishes that aren't offered other places. Their goat stew is a favorite among older Korean immigrants who remember when goat srew was eaten as medicine, full of whole mustard seeds and sesame leaves. Sahn Maru also is one of the few places where you can get braised Korean meat dishes with potatoes, sort of like pot roast. Also, the owner is a gregarious guy who loves talking about food and insists you take tastes of everything. In terms of authentic atmosphere, the jajang noodle place in the plaza with Koryo (no English signage) looks exactly like jajang places you'd see in Seoul where office workers and students eat lunch, and the fried rice topped with jajang sauce and a fried egg is comfort food (although frankly, the jajang there is only OK).
My wife (Korean national) and I have tried most of the Korean restaurants in Oakland. Koryo, in my opinion is ok - but nothing special. Our favorites are Oh Gah Ne on 40th and either Telegraph or Broadway (forget which) and San Maru on Telegraph.
oh Gah Ne is probably my personal favorite of the two, and also has a location near the Costco in San Leandro. It's got a decent sized menu and even fed the Korean Soccer Team when they were here earlier this year for a friendly match against Costa Rica.