Oz Korean BBQ - Sacramento
I've had a craving for bibimbap lately, and found myself over near Bradshaw and Folsom Blvd. at lunchtime today. Vaguely recalling that Oz had gotten some good press here, I popped in for a quick solo lunch.
The place is fairly nice inside. Not deluxe, but well-done. Somebody put a fair amount of thought and effort into designing and decorating the place. But the restaurant was VERY loud, even though it way less than half full. I imagine that it's absolutely deafening when crowded. (Speaking of the people there, I didn't see a single Korean face the entire time - should have been a warning sign.)
The lunch menu is very abbreviated, and the emphasis is clearly on the grill-your-own stuff, but bibimbap was on there, so I ordered it. The waiter (a young white guy) looked at me with a glazed expression, but was eventually able to figure it out when I pointed to the menu.
That glazed look really set the bar for the service. I'd finished my soft drink by the time the dish arrived, and began to ask for a refill as the server set it down. He apparently didn't hear me (not implausible given the ambient noise), didn't notice the empty glass, and certainly didn't ask if I needed anything else; in fact, he walked away as I was speaking to him. During the course of the meal he never checked in to see if the food was okay, and it took an effort on my part to flag him down and get a fresh drink, since he actively avoided eye contact whenever walking by my table. When I finished, I went to the register, where I had to interrupt his conversation with another employee to pay the bill.
Speaking of the bill - this sure isn't a place for a cheap lunch. It was $15 before tip for bibimbap and a coke. Nothing else.
The nothing else is what really got me. Where are the banchan? I would have asked my server, but wasn't sure he would have known what i was talking about. I looked around at the other tables, and they didn't have banchan either. What's up with that? Where's my damn kimchee?
Anyway, the bibimbap itself was pretty terrible. The seaweed scattered over the top was rubbery, the shredded carrot and daikon - which I think were supposed to be quick-pickled - had no discernible vinegar flavor, the spinach and mushrooms were unremarkable, and the alleged "sliced grilled ribeye" beef was under-seasoned matchstick-cut pieces of gristly beef of indeterminate origin that appeared to have been steamed. The chili sauce served on the side was okay, if a little sweeter and milder than I'm used to.
Anyway, my take on it is that Oz is to Korean food as Mikuni is to sushi. It might be a good place to go for all-you-can-eat bulgoki, but I don't see myself returning. Can anybody tell me where the Koreans eat? Please?
I found a great little place courtesy of my Korean roommate. It is called Ko Ga Nae and it can be found in the shopping center on NW corner of the intersection of Folsom and Bradshaw. It is in the shopping center that looks like Toon Town and the only identifier of the restaurant is a sign that says "RESTAURANT" (it is next to a Fish & Chips place).
I've been twice in the past month and can honestly say it is some great authentic Korean food. They serve 6 banchan dishes (typical kimchi, potato of some kind, little anchovies, and the rest seem to rotate). Additionally, I am always offered a carafe of cold Korean tea when I've sat down. First time, a group of 3 of us split an order of budae jigae with a seafood pancake as an appetizer. The app was filled with plenty of seafood and came with a spicy dipping sauce. The jigae was great, very spicy, and filled with all the goodness (Spam, hot dog, ramen, mushroom, etc...) As a bonus the waitress made us a surprising order of bibimbap with our leftovers. I was full for 2 days.
Second time, I went with a group for my birthday. This time I had the seafood tofu kimchee jigae. Came out boiling hot in a clay pot and was perfectly spiced. It was also filled with plenty of octopus, mussel, clam, and scallop. The soup, rice, and banchan filled me up. Two of the others in our group got bibimbap: one just a standard order and the other a dolsot bibimbap. Both were excellent and more food than they could eat. My only complaint would be that on the dolsot, the egg was placed cooked on top of the rice instead of being cracked raw and allowed to cook in the bowl. But the server/waitress would probably let you order it raw if you asked.
Bonus: Soju is only $10/bottle!