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Apr 30, 2008 06:26 PM

Gigul Gigul Korean Restaurant (Oakland Chinatown)

Very good first visit.

This is a small restaurant in the space that formerly housed Le El. The sign outside says "Gigul Gigul" in Korean, and "Korean Restaurant" in English. The focus seems to be mostly on soups and casseroles, with a handful of other Korean restaurant standards thrown in.

We had:
#3 Hae mul pa jeon - seafood pancake. This was eggier (and therefore thinner) than most of the pa jeon I've had - the scallions seemed more incorporated into the pancake, with the seafood mostly on top. The seafood was fresher and sweeter than at most Korean restaurants I've been to. I think maybe because of the egg-heavy batter, the pancake wasn't quite as crisp as my favorites.

#11 Hae mul dol sot bi bim bab - mixed seafood vegetables and rice. Again, very fresh, sweet seafood. I found the seasoned rice a little saltier than I like, but everyone around me loved it.

#23 Go dung uh gui - pan fried mackerel. Simple, well cooked, good quality fish.

#30 Kim chee jji gae (kimchee stew with pork) - nicely complex broth with very flavorful, tiny bits of pork.

There were 8 panchan at lunch - a radish kimchee, cabbage kimchee, tiny fried, salted fish, fish cake, seasoned broccoli, shreds of something in mayonnaise, and I'm missing one. Nothing unusual, but again, everything tasted really fresh... a lot of times, I feel like I'm getting day old panchan scooped out of a big bin.

Things on the menu that look interesting to me:
#24 Book uh gook - dried codfish, egg, green onion and tofu soup
#32 Al jji gae - boiled fish roe soup
#35 Got gae tang - crab stew with mixed vegetable in spicy sauce
#36 Min au mae un tang - boiled spicy croaker soup
#53 Dae ji gool bosam - steamed sliced pork and raw oyster with vegetables
#54 Jok bal - steamed spicy pork foot

I think this is the first time I've seen sol long tang (beef soup with clear yam noodles) on a menu that doesn't actually have "Tang" in the restaurant name. Although, I'm told that "gigul gigul" is the sound of soup when it boils, so maybe that counts.

Gigul Gigul
340 14th St, Oakland, CA 94612

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  1. Thanks for taking the plunge. Re: #30 - I love a good kimchee jjigae. Did you fnd the broth to be thin or thick and was it spicy enough for you?

    Now, if we only had a Kyochon Chicken here . . .

    2 Replies
    1. re: samse

      The broth had body, but was more thin than thick. I found it plenty spicy, which means that someone with a taste for the incendiary may find it a little too mild... Just so you know, I think my taste in Korean food is a little bit eccentric (I tend to like things a little less salty, a little less spicy, and a little less garlicky).

      I took a look at some of your LA posts - you'll be happy to know Gigul Gigul *does* serve breakast (it opens at 9) and hae jang gook is on the menu.

      I'm going to quote your description of hae jang gook, since it's much more comprehensive than the menu description:
      "hae jang guk is your traditional Korean breakfast soup. It is (usually) beef bone based with a heavy dose of salty soy paste. It contains offal, bean sprouts, greens, beef bones w/ (hopefully) a little meat still attached. A small brick of congealed blood is also in there for flavor and can be removed or not, depending on your taste. Salt and red chili paste is also added at the table to taste."

      The other soups I mentioned above are on the breakfast menu as well, as are:
      yuk ke jang (spicy beef soup with green onion, egg and clear yam noodles)
      kal bi tang (beef short rib, egg, green onion and clearyam noodle soup)
      soon dae gook (spicy pork soup with soon dae, green onion)
      kong na mul hae jang gook (beef soup with bean sprouts)
      doen jang jji gae (bean paste soup with tofu and fevetables)
      gam ja tang (pork ribs and potato stewerd with mixed vegetables in spicy sauce)

      Looking forward to hearing your impressions of this place!

      1. re: daveena

        Wow, lots of soup there. I'll try it soon.

    2. Had the hae jang gook... as this was my first time trying this dish, I don't have anything to compare it to. The broth had body from the soybean paste, but was on the thin side. Flavor was very good. Lots of thin slices of spleen and intestine, and pieces of good blood sausage. The spleen slices didn't seem to absorb much of the flavor of the broth... to be honest, spleen is not my favorite offal, so I chased each piece with a few spoonfuls of the spicy broth.

      Panchan were the same as before - the shreds of "something" in mayo are cabbage, and the missing dish was bean sprouts in a spicy sauce.

      1 Reply
      1. re: daveena

        I gather from DezzerSF's and your descriptions that the cook here improvises a bit. My experience with hae jang guk specifically is that it's virtually identical here (Oakland & LA) as in Gang Nam (suburb of Seoul). However, as far as I'm concerned, it's only important that you enoyed it. If you want to compare/contrast, try Seoul Gom Tang at MacArthur/Telegraph or half a block north on Telegraph from there at the former Lee's BBQ on the east side of the street. Sorry, I haven't weighed in but it'll be a while until I get to downtown Oakland.

        I patronize restaurants on the basis of specific dishes. This is tempered somewhat by service. Service at Korean restaurants in particular can sometime be quite maddening if you don't speak Korean. You can hail a waitress down by firmly saying "Ah-Gah-Shee" which means something like young lady - well, er, it works for me b/c they're all younger than I am. If she's older than you, then "ah-joo-mah" or "ah-joo-moh-nee" but be forewarned you could be skating on thin ice here . . .

        Or you can play it safe and simply go to Ohgane where they have a service button on one corner of each table. You won't find hae jang guk here, but their da roh guk bab scratches the itch and I actually prefer it to hae jang guk.

        Now if they only had a mouthwash dispenser . . .

      2. A Korean friend and I stopped by for lunch today, hankering for some soup. It gets pretty busy in there for the lone server, but she handled the lunch rush fine.

        The panchan was indeed fresh and tasty, we liked most everything but the cabbage kimchee. It was less fermented and more pastey, but my friend pointed out that there are different styles of kimchee. I thought the paste they used tasted like it was derived from gochu jang.

        I ordered the Soon dae gook, which sounds like it shares ingredients with the Hae jang gook. It came with soon dae, thin slices of liver (very liver-y), and slices of intestines. It was my first time trying soon dae but the taste is reminiscent of a Filipino dish made with pork blood, diniguan. Honestly, I didn't expect all the offal but still glad I tried it. The soup came piping hot in a stone pot, and the broth was tasty, not too spicy and on the thin side. The soup also included Korean perilla leaves or “ggaenip", which initially overwhelmed the broth with its minty/licorice flavor. It balanced out as the broth cooled, but there are definitely quite a few unique flavors in this soup.

        My friend tried the Yuk ke jang and said it was very good, but he commented on the bits of egg in the soup, which he pronounced as non-traditional. I tried some of the broth and thought it was nice and beefy, with subtle spiciness. I liked that you could still taste the beefy base of the soup.

        We liked the kakduggi (radish kimchee) best and seconds were given when requested. Overall it was a good lunch, I'll be back.

        2 Replies
        1. re: DezzerSF

          There's egg in the Yu ke jang at Ohgane and Sura. I've never seen it w/out egg.

          1. re: lexdevil

            Interesting. I had Yu ke jang at Sam Won and I don't think there was egg in it there. I should mention that my friend liked the egg in the soup.

        2. Went for lunch today.

          Panchan were fine.

          The cod in the #1 book uh gook / dried codfish, egg, green onion & tofu soup ($7.50) tasted off (moldy?), and there wasn't anything else going on in the dish. The broth in the #3 sol long tang / beef with clear yam noodles ($7.50) didn't have much flavor and what flavor it had was unpleasant, and the beef was way overcooked. We ate a small amount of each, paid, and left.

          Maybe the kitchen was having an off day, but this was the worst Korean food I've ever had. I think the only bad Korean food I've had.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Wow...were you given sea salt or other condiments with the sol long tang? It's similar to gomtang, correct?

            1. re: DezzerSF

              There were salt and pepper shakers on the table and it came with a covered dish of chopped green onions they took out of the fridge. No other condiments came with the lunch version, though the menu's photo of the slightly more expensive dinner version looked like it had several more. It seemed like a bad version of the house specialty at Seoul Gom Tang II.

            2. re: Robert Lauriston

              Yikes, that sounds terrible.

              I'll try them too, when I get a chance... wonder if they're inconsistent, or if they just don't do those dishes well.

              1. re: daveena

                Based on reports above, I doubt it's always that bad.

                The spicy pork the people at a nearby table had smelled and looked great.

            3. I'm sitting at my desk just finishing a wonderful Kim Chee Jji Gae from Gigul Gigul. The second time I've had it in a week. Great both times.

              I can't vouch for the other dishes here but the Jji Gae rivals Jong Ga House as my favorite in downtown Oakland. And at $7.50 at lunch, it's $3.50 cheaper than Jong Ga House. Slices of pork are slightly larger and more plentiful in Gigul's version, but it lacks the Fish cakes that Jong Ga's includes. Panchan is similar at both restaurants.

              The time I ate in the restaurant the server also gave me a sweet rice drink at the end of the meal that was very good indeed.

              And only a block from the, now sadly defunct, No Name Korean restaurant that first introduced me to Kim Chi JJige lo those many years ago.

              1 Reply
              1. re: 10foot5

                An update. I've had the Kimchee Jji Gae at Gigul Gigul a couple more times over the past month as it's so convenient to my place of work.

                Upon reflection it really doesn't stand up to the version at Jong Ga House. It lacks the bright, vinegary tang that really makes Kimchee Jji Gae a favorite dish of mine. I think it is because the Kimchee that they serve at Gigul Gigul is much more on the ketchup/garlic side of the ledger, as opposed to the vinegar/spicy side.

                It's still a decent lunch at a good price but I think I'll make the trek to Jong Ga house when I want real satisfaction.