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Korean Restaurant in Santa Clara/San Jose Area

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Hubby and I want to venture to a Korean Restaurant tomorrow. We're coming from Gilroy and are willing to go as far north as Santa Clara. Please provide some rec's. We can handle some heat..but nothing too wild and spicy. No buffets though; I'm also looking for a good variety of panchan...Also, do some take reservations? Or should we just wing it... probably be in the south bay by around 6:00pm. And...please recommend what to order since both of us are not Korean... THANKS!

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  1. Largest variety of panchan is at Korea House. I usually count between 12-15 with a serving of complimentary jap chae to start. The cooked food is average but still one of the most popular korean places in Santa Clara.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Porthos

      Second this rec. My Korean co-worker loves this place.

      1. re: Porthos

        Hi rosiella1 - I couldn't tell from your post - is this going to be a first time eating Korean food, or have you been before? I think Korea House is good if you're unfamiliar with Korean food, since they have a broad menu and lots of panchan, but as Porthos said, their cooked dishes are average. If you've had Korean food before and are looking to broaden your experience, I might steer you more towards places that specialize in barbecue, or tofu casserole, or beef soup.

        1. re: daveena

          Not first time, but we go once in a while... so we've done and are familiar with the whole BBQ cook your own thing. We probably go 3-4x a year..when I get a craving... so yes, if you have some other recs please let me know.. would love to try new things.

          1. re: rosiella1

            Caveat - I'm about 2 years out of date, so hoping people with more recent experiences can supplement/correct me.

            Just in case you've only done gas/griddle do-it-yourself bbq, I'll recommend Spring Korean BBQ (1062 Kiely Blvd) - they bring live coals to your table in the flimsiest looking basket. As far as I know, it's the only place in Santa Clara that does charcoal (hope I'm wrong - it's so much better with charcoal).

            For the classic Korean hangover cure, Seoul Gom Tang (3028 El Camino Real)serves a really good beef soup, the kind that comes unseasoned, so that you can season it to taste. Can't remember if they bring out panchan or not.

            Then there's the tofu casseroles! There are a lot of tofu casserole places on El Camino - my personal favorite was Gaesung House of Tofu - 2089 El Camino (tofu casserole purists tell me the flavor's too "light"). They also had some good non-tofu casserole dishes - I remember getting some fish dishes that were really good (can't remember what exactly, sorry for the vagueness). Not as many types of panchan as Korea House, but better quality. Oh, I think they had good mung bean pancakes too - not the ones with seafood, they were either plain or maybe had green onion. Arrgh. Hope someone can help me out.

            And for Korean-style Chinese, there's Tong Soon Garden (3240 El Camino) - haven't seen a review in a while, but there are some very good reviews on Yelp covering a lot of menu items that I haven't tried there (and that I don't remember getting reviewed on CH). FWIW, I liked their spicy seafood soup, didn't like the jja jiang mian (noodles with black bean paste).

            And... please report back!

            1. re: daveena

              We ended up going to Korea House. It wasn't great... it was just ok nothing to rave about. Servers were nice; we had the combination meal with the bulgogi, egg/fish thing, egg flour soup type with rice cake. The panchan was alright; but the bulgogi seemed like it was sitting in some steam table at the back... and just scooped onto the cold supposed to be sizzling plate. It was seasoned ok though. I think we will try Korean BBQ next (for the whole charcoal effect). Thanks everyone ! :)

              1. re: rosiella1

                Also keep in mind Han Sung BBQ in Santa Clara for charcoal Korean bbq.

                Here's my old report:
                http://www.chow.com/topics/311764?que...

        2. re: Porthos

          We did love the panchan variety- I think we got 10 different kinds. The BBQ was OK, but the jap chae was really really good (nice and simple, but great taste).

          The cucumbers were great as were the pan roasted anchovies (taste like sweet fish jerky!)

        3. A place I go to often up in Milpitas (straight shot from Gilroy - 101 to 880 to Calvares) is Korean BBQ House (260 S Abel St, Milpitas, CA 95035, 408-263-6705, you'll know you're at the right place when you see the green bamboo shoot character). It's clean inside, and one thing that stands out is the panchan...always fresh and crisp like it was made that morning (some korean places I've been to has some dodgy panchan since a lot of it is fermented...some just seem like it's been fermenting a bit too long). My standby is the "dolsot bibimbap" where everything is served in a sizzling hot clay pot that you stir and add gochujang (hot pepper paste) to taste. It just matches up well with the cold panchan, and you have the crunchy cooked rice at the bottom as kind of an "end of meal treat". A lot of korean food is an acquired taste, so I always recommend the dolsot bibimbap or kalbi to newcomers to korean food. Kalbi is hands down my favorite, but I don't order the kalbi when I go out because I eat a lot of that at home. ;)

          6 Replies
          1. re: Bunson

            Thank you! I've been increasingly hesitant to give my South Bay Korean recs as I haven't been to any of them in two years now, but we don't seem to have a lot of people covering the deep South Bay. Looks like you have a lot of good recs - please keep them coming!

            Does Korean BBQ House use charcoal?

            1. re: daveena

              The Korean BBQ House in Milpitas has seen an ownership change. It is now called Bamboo Korean BBQ House, and the interior is much nicer. However, their variety of panchan is pretty slim and cannot be compared with Korea House.

              I would not recommend Spring Korean BBQ, especially for non-Koreans. We were there and got very bad service even though we're Asian AND can speak Korean!

              I also don't think Korea House is that bad for non-BBQ items (which I seldom order separately there since there's the all-you-can-eat version at lunch). I've had decent soup dishes there and the dolsot bibimbop is decent.

              The panchan selection at Gaesung Tofu was also limited last time I went awhile ago.

              I've heard good things but have not tried Sil-gol-jp Korean BBQ next door to Tong Soon Garden.

              -t

              1. re: tanspace

                We recently checked out Sigoljip based on some older recs on this board and elsewhere, and found it very disappointing. Galbi was cooked in the kitchen (and not very well), ojingeo (squid) bokkeum was kind of boring and had absolutely no spice but lots of American broccoli in it (!!??); bibimbap was OK. They did have a variety of banchan, and the service was friendly enough (though mainly just wanted to steer us towards bibimbap, since we weren't Korean) It was overall a rather underwhelming experience, I was kind of embarrassed to have dragged friends there to try it with us.... :(

                1. re: another_adam

                  Thanks for the feedback on Sigoljip. Good to know what NOT to order. My favorite things so far are the raw beef and pear salad and the fried oysters.

                  Chowdown report for Sigoljip,
                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/396036

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Tagged!

                    -----
                    Korea House
                    2340 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95050

                    Han Sung BBQ
                    2644 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95051

                    Korean Spring BBQ
                    1062 Kiely Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

                    Gaesung House of Tofu
                    2089 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95050

                    Tong Soon Garden
                    3240 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95051

                    Korean B B Q House
                    260 S Abel St, Milpitas, CA 95035

                    Seoul Gom Tang
                    3028 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95051

                    1. re: P. Punko

                      Link for Sigoljip Korean BBQ restaurant,

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                      Sigoljip Korean BBQ Restaurant
                      3258 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95051