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Apr 27, 2007 10:29 AM

Chowdown: Sigoljip Korean BBQ and Real Ice Cream (Santa Clara)

Last night ten chowhounds gathered at Sigoljip for a tour of Korean cooking styles and a fun evening at the table. Portions are enormous, and even though the server encouraged us to order more, we had more than enough to go ‘round with the following dishes (with menu descriptions and prices).

Yook Hwe, $15.95 – Raw beef with special sauce
Gool Jun, $13.95 – Oyster with fried green onion in batter
Gool Bo Sam, $17.95 – Fresh (raw) oyster with steamed pork and lettuce
Duck bok ki, $10.95 – Rice cake with hot sauce
Dae ji bul go kee, $11.95 – Korean barbecued pork
Kal bi, $18.95 x 2 – Korean barbecued short ribs
Heok yum so jun gol, $30.95 – Black goat in hot soup
Goon man doo, complimentary x 2 – Baked won ton

These came with steamed rice and a selection of panchan, a couple orders of baked mandu on the house, sweet rice water, and melon chewing gum with the bill. I’ll ask the participants to post their opinions and favorites.

Service was swift and efficient. The dishes arrived at the table in record time in seemingly one fell swoop and required some juggling to fit everything, including the burner with the bubbling goat soup. Panchan were refilled when requested.

My top pick on the table was the yook hwe, raw beef salad with slivers of Asian pear. Served semi-frozen, the beef was coarsely chopped/sliced giving it some bite instead of the softness of grinding. With less of a sesame oil signature or spicing than other versions I’ve had, the natural taste of the meat enriched with garlic, toasted pinenuts and a raw egg yolk was more prominent. Paired with the crunchy and sweet bits of pear, this was absolutely delicious.

Image of yook hwe surrounded by panchan -

Then I was fascinated by a dipping sauce provided for the gool bo sam, raw oyster appetizer. A bean paste dip was also provided, which was nice, but the briny, shrimpy thing was more fascinating to me.

Image of gool bo sam -

This had tiny shell-on, shrimp-like crustaceans in a spicy red oil with sesame seeds and other seasonings. It provided a big wallop of umami savoriness. Can someone tell us more about it?

Image of dipping sauce for oysters -

Cost for our meal came to less than $18 per person.

Then we dashed off to Real Ice Cream down the street for some cooling Indian ice cream for dessert. I can highly recommend the gulkhand, made with candied rose petals.

Si-gol-jip Korean B. B. Q. Restaurant (no name on the building
)3258 El Camino Real
Santa Clara
Open 7 days, 11am to 11pm

Real Ice Cream/Olety’s Chaat Corner
3077 El Camino Real
Santa Clara

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  1. Let me start by thanking Melanie again for organizing this!

    It was a pleasure meeting the group as this was my 1st chowdown.

    The restaurant was really quaint and the service was excellent. They gave us suggestions, answered all of our questions, served the hot pot, gave us free wontons and refilled everything we needed. Like Melanie mentioned, the food arrived really fast but it didn't take away anything from the preperation, temperature or flavor of the food.

    Now on to the food. . .
    I basically gave no input in what to order because my previous experience with Korean had just been BBQ and I wanted to expand my pallete. We ordered plenty of food and actually had some leftovers.

    Yook Hwe, $15.95 – Raw beef with special sauce
    I'm weird and do not generally like sweet tasting food. For me, sweet is for dessert. With that said, I wasn't too much of a fan of this. Since it also had some pear, and I do not like pears, it just didn't do anything for me. I can however say that the meat did have some good flavor with the pine nuts and raw egg. Flavorful and refreshing. I'd almost like to cook the meat to rare instead of raw to see if the flavors would infuse into the meat more.

    Gool Jun, $13.95 – Oyster with fried green onion in batter
    This was my favorite. I generally don't like friend foods but these were good. The oysters were fresh and plump, not overcooked at all. The batter wasn't heavy or oily and it added a nice crunch to the soft oyster. I don't know if I ate it right but I dipped the oysters in the crustacean sauce as I called it and it was really tasty. Would definitely get this again.

    Gool Bo Sam, $17.95 – Fresh (raw) oyster with steamed pork and lettuce
    This was a miss for me because the lettuce tasted too much of vinegar. I think I would have liked it more if it was fresh lettuce and not cabbage which is what I think we got. The oysters were big and plump. The pork was ok, a little too fatty (it was more like bacon than steamed pork). There was this red stringy filler that I'm not sure what it was but it was good with the oysters.

    Duck bok ki, $10.95 – Rice cake with hot sauce
    This wasn't as spicy as it looked and it was good. Mild rice cake with what I think was fishballs. Good and tasty.

    Dae ji bul go kee, $11.95 – Korean barbecued pork
    I like pork and I like BBQ. You can deduce that I like BBQ Pork. Good flavoring. Not spicy. Would get this again.

    Kal bi, $18.95 x 2 – Korean barbecued short ribs
    A staple and rightly so. It was good. Nice chunks of meat, Not too fatty or bland. Very well flavored. Definitely getting this again.

    Heok yum so jun gol, $30.95 – Black goat in hot soup
    Another miss for me. It was too gamey or as some said too "goaty." I'm not sure if it was sesame leaves or some other greens in it but they were a tad bitter but I could see how they went with the flavor of the goat.

    Goon man doo, complimentary x 2 – Baked won ton
    It's wonton. Can't really mess that up. And it was free, so it tasted even better. I took some of these home and had them this morning for breakfast. Nice thin, crisp shell. The filling wasn't too much. Good balance or pork, ginger and scallions is what I tasted. Not oily at all.

    The rice water. . . I tasted it. I don't think I would order this. I was saving my sweet tooth for the ice cream.

    The ice cream. I can't believe I hadn't been here before. Now I'm sure I'll be here once a week and my waistline will not be happy about it.

    I'm sure we annoyed the owner as we (boyfriend and I) asked for a sample of almost everything- chicoo, falloda, saffron and galkhand and asked him what everything was. We settled on the mango ice cream and it was devine! Smooth and creamy with a deep mango flavor. I'm probably going to have to get some more of this tonight, just because it was so good.

    Thanks again for letting us come! Can't wait till the next one!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Margo

      Great to meet you, Margo! The gool jun tried here before was what brought me back, and it was equally good this time. I was also disappointed in the goat soup, the black goat in spicy sauce I had ordered before was a much more interesting dish.

    2. Having never had steak tartare and not knowing what to expect, with some tablemates making faces at the thought of a meat dish served uncooked, I found myself transported to another place by the beef with Asian pear and pine nuts dish (Yook Hwe). If my virgin foray into rare flesh could be so wondrous, my mind raced with possible adventure as I took in the raw oyster plate (Gool Bo Sam). Piles of unexploded ordinance, a triple threat of green chili peppers, raw garlic, and red chili paste mixed with what first appeared to be the Yook Hwe's identical twin (which Melanie identified as daikon radish julienned with pine nuts) were interspersed with seemingly innocuous mounds of boiled Napa cabbage and slices of pork belly. I gathered the oysters with the fermented bean sauce and the tiny anchovy and/or shrimp sauce, topped with coarsely chopped green chili peppers and garlic, and a chopstick grab of the red mound of radish and pine nuts, and put the melange into my mouth. As I began chewing, savoring the crunchiness of the daikon radish, garlic, and green chili with the slippery warmth of the oysters in the melange, an inspiration came to me: why not add to the mix by dipping slices of pork belly into a soy sauce mixed with sesame seeds and chili oil that had been silently laid fore me, and pair that with the Napa cabbage ? An NRA convention during New Year's Eve near a Baghdad marketplace in Iraq after we were told major combat operations had ended could not begin to describe the jubilation and tumult, taste buds screaming in terror, nose flaring, as I fought back tears, eyes red and membranes swollen, from a fateful decision made seemingly ages ago, that I now celebrated, amidst secret pangs of regret. I followed this with chopstick grabs of rice, sips of earthy smoky Korean tea, and more of the same. I had so much fun in my neo-culinary incursion into this rare new world, where I felt confident I would be welcomed as a liberator, that in between quiet bouts of desperate pain, I resolved such adventures should probably be made illegal, if not in certain states of the Union, at least in all places of sharia law.

      The service, presentation, and the goat stew, cooked oysters and barbecue pork and beef were also remarkable, and again kudos to dear Melanie for selecting a spot memorable for making preparation of Korean food look effortless.

      1 Reply
      1. re: tpc

        I didn't quite catch all those ecstatic fireworks, but I could tell that you were enjoying the gool bo sam mightily!

        I do like the people here, friendlier and more approachable than some of the restaurants along soon dubu row.

      2. I'm going to agree with Melanie that the Yook Hwe was my favorite for the evening. Despite having the usual misgivings about eating raw meat and eggs, I thought the combination was very good. Originally as I mixed the dish (it comes in layers), I thought it was daikon on the bottom, but Melanie delighted noted she was tasting sweet pear, not daikon. The combination just worked for me and fortunately the meat and eggs were fresh and clean, so there will no ill effects from eating them.

        The Duck bok ki wasn't terribly interesting. The sauce wasn't particular spicy or complex and only had bland rice "cigars" and fish balls to cover. I'd skip the dish next time.

        Both BBQ dishes (pork and short ribs) were good. The short ribs had the good grace not to be overly chewy, but had a great caramelized taste where they had been in contact with the hot iron plate on which they were served. Now, I do prefer to grill my meat over a brazier with wood charcoal in it, but this wasn't a bad substitute for a restaurant that doesn't have smoke hoods over the tables.

        I was pleased to try out Real Ice Cream for the first time. In my gluttony, I tried the mango kulfi and the gulkhand. The kulfi was tasty, although I prefer mango ice cream, but the gulkhand a wonderful rose aroma that was topped off by a generous quantity of rose petals throughout the ice cream.

        Thank you, Melanie for hosting a lovely chowdown.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Peter Yee

          The pieces of short rib that I had were somewhat chewy and tough, but maybe that's what I get for grabbing the thick ones.

          I love going to Real Ice Cream for a cool down dessert after a hot and spicy Korean or Indian meal along this strip of El Camino. I just wish that it was open just a little later than 9pm.

        2. I'm bummed I couldn't go; sometimes work trumps dinner.