Need rec for Korean restaurant in South Bay suitable for mid-western colleagues
- Maple Aug 20, 2006 02:48 AM
Having read Chowhounds for years, this is my first actual posting. Thank you for sharing the pleasures of the palette!
I would like to poll everyone for recommendations for Korean restaurants in the South Bay. I am hosting a dinner for out-of-town colleagues who love American barbecues, and thought that showing off what Korean barbecues are about would be fun. They are from the Midwest and unfamiliar with Asian food. There will be around 10 of us, and we don't need a private room. What I am looking for are specifically the following:
- good bulgogi, kalbi, and the spicy pork barbecue. The stir-fried translucent noodles should also be good.
- the quality and quantity of panchans are NOT important - it will be too exotic for them.
- the decor does not have to be fancy, but should not be too dingy.
- NOT buffet style, please
- there needs to be English on the menu
- my office is in Mountain View, and the restaurant can be anywhere between Palo Alto and Sunnyvale
Some place similar to Seoul Garden in Japantown or Koryo or San Mahnru(sp?) in Oakland would do.
Separately, I can always use more Korean restaurant recommendations in the East Bay for myself - can't go to Koryo all the time :-). Love tofu hotpots and panchans.
If your mid-western colleagues love American grilled food (not barbecue), grill-yourself Koren bbq would certainly be very fun. If you can go a little farther than Sunnyvale, Han Sung BBQ in Santa Clara gets raves since they use charcoal. It might be hard to do with 10 people around 1 grill; might work better to split into 2 tables of 5 each. I remember there's english on the menu. Decor is not fancy but not dingy either; to me it actually seems kind of like an American style restaurant with the vinyl on their booth seats.
If you think your colleagues will be grossed out by the whole anchovies or other panchan, you might be able to request your server to bring out a small selection by asking to try only 1 or 2 panchan, like dang myun noodles and potatoes.
Here's the most recent report for Han Sung:
If you don't want grill-at the table bbq, and you want Americanized food there's always Hahn's Hibachi in Palo Alto but I wouldn't recommend it.
No buffet? The only Korean BBQ I've been to that wasn't buffet style was the pricey Woo Lae Oak in Beverly Hills. I can't help thinking that Midwesterners would have no problem assessing piles of raw meat for grilling.
Once again, I'll recommend Korea House in Santa Clara. It has everything thing you're looking for, at reasonable prices.
Thank you very much for your recommendations. I will go and scout out the aforementioned restaurants. Maybe I am just asking for trouble with this idea of mine :-), but I trust that good food can speak to everybody. I do want a grill-at-the-table place, though I am less fussy about it being charcoal or not. I will prep the group ahead of time on the whole concept.
THe vast majority of Korean BBQ places I know of are not buffet style. I tend to think that buffets have less refined flavors - at least the couple of buffet places I have been to, such as Coriya, though that hardly counts as Korean.
Is the Korea House in Santa Clara related to the Korea House and New Korea House in Japantown? I do like those.
You've gotten some good recs so far. I know you said no buffet, but I have to add that when I was looking for bbq places in the South Bay, I had considered Palace BBQ Buffet in Sunnyvale because it was consistently recommended by hounds. We ended up going to Han Sung instead (see report linked by Alice), but I still have Palace in the back of my mind. I believe their meats are stronger than their panchan, and guests can still grill at their tables. I've heard the selection is quite good, and I'm not sure about current cost.
Here's a link to a local paper's old review w/ a photo to give you an idea of what it looks like inside: http://www.metroactive.com/papers/met...
While I liked Han Sung's food and homey atmos., I don't know if I'd take out-of-town colleagues there. It has a casual diner feel and is more dingey than I'd feel comfortable taking possibly non-chowish types. If I were hosting in that manner, I'd want something a little more "special." The other bonus of Palace is that Hankook, a large Korean market, is right next door so you guys could tour before or after. Scout it out and see what you think! Let us know how it turns out...
If you aren't ruling out buffet then yes, Palace BBQ is much spiffier looking than Han Sung. But don't get octopus or squid there (not that you would, with those Midwesterners). Both had a very weird off smell when I went, so if I barely grilled it, it was smelly, and if I grilled it well, it was tough & inedible.
Actually if you're not ruling out buffet, I'd go to Juban over Palace BBQ. I've only been to the one in Burlingame (same ownership) and the quality of the meats/grill ingredients are better than Palace BBQ. You will definitely smell like BBQ at either place afterwards; at Han Sung you might smell less.
I would also recommend Palace BBQ, but the only thing is I'm not sure if they have a single table that can seat 10 people. May have to split up into 2 tables of 5/6, etc. You can call and check.
Also not mentioned is the Octagon, on Homestead, west of San Tomas in Santa Clara. This place has self grilled BBQ in addition to dinner buffet every night. The buffet selection is similar to Korea House's lunch buffet. But in addtion they also have one of my favorites - deep fried squid (or Korean calamari). The interior is a little less dingy than Han Sung. May be worth checking out.
Thank you all for your help! I went and searched out all the recommendations:
- Palace: closed on Mondays (when I need it!)
- Octagon: tables cannot move together due to gas line
- Han Sung: too down market
- Spring: possible but still rough around the edges and hard to find for out-of-towners
and we ended up going to Juban in Menlo Park.
I am glad to report that it was a big hit with everybody! The various beef dishes were very popular, particularly yaki-shabu - the thinly sliced ones. Surprisingly, they also loved the cabbage and daikon radish kimchees, along with coffee mochi(!) for dessert!
Thanks again for all your thoughts and help!
re: Melanie Wong
Not at all. We spent $40+ per person (which is actually inexpensive for a business dinner), but then again it was a rowdy group with multiple drinks, many rounds of grills, and dessert for most people. The grill meats were $8-10 per, and you would probably need four plates for three people, plus some kimchee and drinks. Thanks again for the rec!