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No More Luxury in Oakland, replaced by Kang Nam Pho

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My wife and I had a hankering on Sunday for ddukboki (spicy rice cakes) and quickly drove over to our favorite Korean restaurant Luxury at 44th and Telegraph. We hadn't been there for a couple of weeks and were quite surprised to see that it was now a Pho restaurant (but oddly enough, with Korean signage).

We are mourning the loss of a really affordable and unique Korean restaurant in the Telegraph strip, but I do love pho, which there is a shortage of in North Oakland and Berkeley. My Korean wife was too depressed to give the pho a try, but I was wondering if any had ventured in to try the pho and see if it was authentic or not (don't know if the place is run by Vietnamese or Korean owners).

Also, anybody know why Luxury was replaced? It seemed to enjoy decent business and was pretty full whenever we visited.

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  1. Never fear, Kang Nam has Dduck Bok E on the appetizer menu. It's a Korean Pho house. The menu sports around a dozen apps (fried shrimp cake, fried chicken wings, soon dae...), 18 varieties of beef pho, 1 chicken pho, several seafood soups, around 10 varieties of bun, and a dozen rice plates. We'll be trying it for take away tonight. Friends had pho there the other day and were generally positive.

    Kang Nam Pho House
    4419 Telegraph Ave.
    Oakland, CA 94609
    510-985-0900

    1 Reply
    1. re: lexdevil

      Interesting, have you run across other Korean pho joints? And, how was the food pretty please?

    2. Do tell! I would love something closer than El Cerrito or downtown Oakland.

      1. Jong Ga House on Grand has ddukboki. It's one of my favorite Korean dishes as well. I loved Koko's version before it closed. The only good version close to us is Shin Tofu House in Newark.

        1. i could be wrong, but i have seen korean pho houses before, in this very city, and have heard about their popularity with korean-americans in LA and even in seoul. this is probably not the right board for this tangent. i wish i could remember the other vietnamese restaurants that prominently display their menu on the window in korean. i know of one on irving (it may even be yummy yummy) and one by brothers II on geary.

          i don't want to make assumptions, but...has anyone else in the SF bay area eaten korean pho?

          1. Thanks for the ddukboki suggestions. And I am eager to hear the reviews from Kang Nam pho (if I get around to eating there myself soon, I'll be sure to add one).

            Side note: There are lots of pho restaurants in LA's Koreatown. Haven't tried any of them though.

            1. Rice plates were better than the pho. The grilled pork chops were nice, according to my son and husband. Serving size was generous. The pho was fine, but nothing special. Very mild broth...not the pungent hit of star anise style that I prefer. The meat and other items in the bowl were good quality.

              1. Can you explain what was so special about Luxury? It's not like there aren't about 5 other Korean restaurants within a 5 block radius.

                That location is cursed. First it was Chicken Village, then that quickly disappeared to be replaced by Luxury, and now...

                Have you ever tried Sahn Maru or Koryo? I know Sahn Maru has duk boki. They're both on the same block as Luxury was and both good Korean food.

                1. I really like Luxury and will miss it. It had more of a laid back and lounge atmostphere than Sahn Maru or Koryo. In particular I will miss some of the thin and thick noodle dishes.

                  I am very curious about a Korean Pho restaurant being vietnamese myself. This would be the first I've seen.

                  1. So I went and tried out KangNam Pho House today for lunch. I had Bun Tom Nuong Cha Gio and an iced coffee. They didn't bring the drip filter to the table, but the coffee was good and strong. The Bun was actually pretty good. This place is definitely close enough to me to become a regular haunt. I also found out that the place is still owned by the same people that owned Luxury. They're trying something new, in an attempt to make a living.

                    The menu: 18 varieties of Beef Pho, "Dough flake Soup" in kimchi, beef, or seafood varieties, Chicken Pho, 7 kinds of seafood pho, 13 varieties of bun, and 12 rice plates (plus a bunch of appetizers, including fried shrimp cake, fish cake, fried chicken wings, korean style pork sausage stuffed with noodles, etc.

                    As an aside, as I sat at a window table waiting for my lunch, a car drove into the front door about 10 feet away from me (the driver had gone through the Jack in a Box drive through, turned into Telegraph in the path of an oncoming car, and swerved into the restaurant to avoid the car.). Yikes. The elderly woman in the passenger seat was not wearing her seat belt and smashed the windshield. She was walking around afterwards, but obviously had a head injury. Sad......I think the driver and the kid in back were fine, though.

                    1. stopped by there today. first time for me since the change in theme. my friends and I each had a bowl of either beef or combo seafood pho. No complaints from anyone, I personally thought it tasted authentic and good, though not the best I've had. we also ordered some korean fried chicken with spicy sauce but was sadly disappointed. while the spicy sauce it was coated in was good, the crispy pieces were mostly batter and very little chicken. and what little chicken was on the bone was a bit dry. still, it was interesting for me to combine vietnamese and korean food in one meal. my friend found it novel to order pho in korean.

                      the service was just okay, the waiter was nice enough, and chatty with us, but he was very green. from what he told me, he only arrived in the U.S. 2 weeks ago. still, he really tried his best. I got there around 7pm and it was pretty empty at first, but it slowly filled to about half or 3/4 capacity. not too bad for a monday evening.

                      1. Finally ate at Kang Nam Pho today. I had their #1 combo pho. It was pretty good and authentic. I've had better cuts of beef at pho restaurants, but overall it was of pretty acceptable quality. Definitely the best in the area (Berkeley / North Oakland). My wife had the grilled pork rice plate with includes shredded pork (one of my favorites) and a imitation crab egg cake. This was good too. Once again not the best that I've had, but far from the worst (at least compared to the few Vietnamese restaurants in Berkeley). It'll be a good go to place for me, as Oakland Chinatown is twice the distance for me and Kang Nam Pho has parking (which is a huge plus).

                        As other posters have noted, there are a lot of Korean items on the menu. But we inquired about them and one of the Korean staff told us that none of those items will be available anymore, and that a new all-Vietnamese menu was forthcoming. I think they're getting rid of the one Korean chef they have left. Though curiously we were given kimchi on the side... (my wife's theory was that they just had to finish using up a batch they'd already prepared).

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: caliboy888

                          aww...i was hoping they'd keep the korean menu. I thought the two went well together.

                        2. So I just tried Kang Nam Pho House today (May 1) and found it to be pretty solid. I make no claims to be a true Pho-natic, but the Pho with meat balls was totally solid and at least as good as some of the places I've been on Capitol Blvd in San Jose. I didn't try much else, but it looks like there is still a hybridized mix of Korean and Vietnamese food on offer.

                          Strong, aromatic and herbal (cinnamon? etc.) flavors from the broth complemented the garlicky meat balls quite nicely. Also, they still serve the kimchi and korean-style pickeld spicy radish as a side/starter with every order. I had to ask about ingredients (I have a sesame allergy) and was told that not only was there no sesame, but the two spicy pickles were made in-house! The kimchi was sinus-clearing and mustardy, the radishes were nice n' spicy touch of green onion and ginger. If the Pho serving hadn't been so hefty, I would have asked for extra pickles to polish off my meal.

                          Also, I would echo the earlier posting that the Vietnamese-style coffee with sweetened-condensed milk was good. The coffee had some bitter and cocoa-ish flavors that mixed with the milk pretty well.

                          Definitely a welcome addition to the Temescal 'hood!

                          1. I also stopped in this week. I ordered mi bo kho, as is my want, and when it arrived I was struck by how much it looked liked my old favorite, New Pagolac on International (still there, but run by different people with different recipes). It was a richer looking broth with the turmeric yellow tinge of the old New Pagolac. On tasting, it was very similar to what I remembered from that place, perhaps slightly saltier.

                            Anyway, later during my meal a gentleman came out from the kitchen to deliver another bowl of noodles, and I definitely recognized him from another restaurant in the area, and as I think about it more, I am more and more sure that he was one of the people who ran New Pagolac a few years back and longer.

                            I rarely ordered pho at New Pagolac and didn't order it here today, so can't comment.

                            I enjoyed having the daikon kimchee and regular kimchee as starters.

                            The bo kho was good, and I would go back. My current favorite is Kim Huong in Chinatown. There's no real competition for a few miles around, I think. As others have pointed out, they have multiple appetizers, pho,bun and com plates. It's a pleasant enough environment, and there is parking in the back.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: twocents

                              Had the bo kho again recently, and am sure one of the cooks from the old New Pagolac is here. Excellent, I like it better than the aforementioned Kim Huong. I should note that my tastes in bo kho may be somewhat idiosyncratic, as the more common bo kho served at viet places is lighter than this one, though still much richer and darker than pho.

                              The daikon and regular kimchees served here as panchan are very nicely flavored to my taste. They are of the variety that has a distinct vinegary taste, as opposed to less sour, more minerally pure lactic fermentation of much kimchee. I don't know if it's considered a shortcut or not, but I like it a lot.

                              Companion had the combo rice plate, which was ok. Once we had a serving of the fried chicken with spicy sauce, which I though was only ok, rather heavily breaded with a somewhat bland sweet and spicy sauce. Also had the korean sausage, which appeared to be filled with blood and mung bean or rice noodle. I am not familiar with this dish, so am not sure. It was ok.

                              1. re: twocents

                                Since I live near Temescal, I decided to check this place out last week since it is a much closer option than trekking out to El Cerrito, Chinatown or International for pho. I was pleasantly suprised by my meal there!

                                When I sat down the waitress brought over a mug of bori cha (Korean barley tea) and couple bowls of different kim chis.

                                My dining companion and I decided against ordering some of the korean appetizers to go with our pho and it was a wise choice -- we could hardly finish our bowls of soup! I got a regular-sized pho with rare beef and tendon and my buddy got a large down of rare beef and brisket I think. KangNam definitely gets my vote for the "Most Generous with the Meat" award! There was more meat in our bowls than I've been served in any other pho place. I liked that the tendons were sort of sliced on the bias instead of in big cylinders and still had a little chew to them .

                                Not necessarily the most mind-blowing pho I've ever eaten but perfectly serviceable and a great, very-filling value. And who doesn't love kim chi?

                                1. re: twocents

                                  Recent visit had a new hostess and apparently a new cook in the kitchen- ownership change?

                                  I ordered my usual bo kho and it was not the same version that I have come to rely on- rather it seemed more like a pho base but with similar cuts of meat to a usual bo kho (plate, drop flap). The meat was plentiful and tender and broth's richness clearly indicated it was not just the normal pho broth but had in fact stewed in the meat's presence. It was good, just not what i was expecting. There were a couple of specials in the menu- 1) Korean fried rice and 2) Shaking Beef. The latter was a decent portion of cubed beef stir-fried in an onion and hoisin based sauce, with a good deal of carmelization and carmelized onion and a hint of garlic, served on a bed of vietnamese-style shredded cabbage salad (tasty if sweet on its own, I ate it all) and with an ample portion of garlic fried rice (much like the filipino version). I would order this again.

                              2. link

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                                Kang Nam
                                4419 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                                1. Had lunch here the other day. I loved the rich broth, prefer it to regular pho. Good kimchi. Very nice space, especially for the low price. I'm going to give it a try for dinner soon.