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Bowl'D - new Korean in Albany

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This place took over the old Tsing Tao space on Solano, same block as Sunnyside Cafe. I only looked at the menus today and there was a good variety of rice bowls, including a build-your-own with instructions (1. select grain, 2. select protein, etc), as well as dumplings, kimchee and more. Prices were a little higher than I like to pay for lunch, but everything was under $15 and portions looked quite generous.

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  1. Haven't tried it, but there was a little blurb in the paper that Bowl'd is linked to Ohgane.

    -----
    Ohgane
    3915 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94611

    2 Replies
    1. re: kc72

      Write up in East Bay Express explains menu and mentions part owner's Jessica Oh parents owned several restaurants including Ohgane. Does owned mean no longer?
      http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/bow...

      Bowl'd
      1479 Solano Ave.
      510-526-6223

      1. re: wolfe

        This is what I got from the paper:

        Bowled over: Bowl'd, the new Korean rice bar on the Albany stretch of bustling Solano Avenue, is wooing devotees with its mix of delicious food and serene decor -- sophisticated hues, soft lighting, and orchids and other exotic flowers. Jessica Oh and Chi Moon's three-week-old restaurant offers fresh, flavorful takes on dumplings, savory pancakes, bibimbap and spicy octopus kim bop are winning fans. (And if Oh's name sounds familiar, it's because her family also runs Ohgane in Oakland and Dublin.) Bowl'd -- the name is a play on both "bold" and rice bowls -- is open from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. 1479 Solano Ave., Albany; 510-526-6223.

        -----
        Ohgane
        3915 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94611

    2. had a very good meal there 2 weeks ago. Spicy Rice Cakes w/ Squid, flavorful and it brings the heat!

      2 Replies
      1. re: nicedragonboy

        Was this dduk bok ki? How did it compare to other versions (like the one at Porno Palace, for example)?

        1. re: abstractpoet

          I haven't had the one at Porno Palace. But it's a good version. slight hint of sweet which they said was from some honey that they add to the sauce. You can order it with or without the squid for an extra cost, of which they give you a lot.

      2. Had lunch there today. Spicy pork bowl with mixed grain rice.
        Pork was slightly spicy with a really good strong charred flavor with out actual char.
        Great array of vegetables including ; pea sprouts, bracken fern stem, carrots, daikon and shiitakes to name a few.
        Good Kochujang Sauce, homemade may be? not too sweet, sharp chili spice.
        Presentation was beautiful although not particularly hot.
        They are the young women that were hosting at Ohgane a few months back. They go out of there way to explain everything to the "gringos" which is great .
        Panchan was well prepared and tasty.
        Over all a really good meal. I will be back.

        -----
        Ohgane
        3915 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94611

        1. This place is really good. The chap chae ($14) and spicy pork ($14) very similar to Ohgane's, except the whatsit-jang (miso-like sauce) that came with the pork was by far the best I've ever had. Same goes for the sweet-salty crunchy seaweed. There was a relatively limited selection of panchan, maybe 7-8 dished, but everything tasted brighter and fresher than elsewhere. We also had an appetizer, tofu skins ($4 for two huge ones) stuffed with rice mixed with various things including smoky bacon and almonds, definitely a twist on the classic.

          I was afraid from the name, location, and DIY lunch menu that the food would be Americanized, but it's not. Very nice atmosphere, friendly service, reasonable prices.

          -----
          Bowl'd
          1479 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

          3 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Their stone bowl bibimbap is the best I've had in the Bay Area, in terms of quality/execution of the ingredients, though I thought the "stuff" to rice proportion was a little off (I would have liked more rice).

            Spicy rice cakes were very good, as noted above, though they were sold out of squid on the day I ordered it. Maybe the sauce is sweeter than what would be traditional, but I'm no expert.

            Oyster pancake was on the small side (cut up for you on a little plate) and not to the level of, say, the seafood pancake at Sura. I wouldn't get this again.

            I agree that the prices are very reasonable for the neighborhood, and for the nicer atmosphere and friendlier service than your typical Korean joint.

            1. re: abstractpoet

              I had the Dol Sot Bibimbap (hot stone bowl $14) with galbi (grilled short ribs +$2) + bin dae duk (Mung bean pancakes, $6) appetizer for lunch today.

              The bin dae duk was one of the better examples I've had in the Bay Area. Not too dense and nicely pan fried. Many places overcook this so it's dry and chewy. This reminded me of my mom's, though the tiny bowl of dipping sauce needed some kick. There were no condiments on the table to doctor it up with like vinegar or red pepper powder. $6 for two smallish pancakes did seem a bit steep.

              I agree with the quality of the vegetation in the bibimbap and liked the additional variety you see compared to other places (listed in chefj's post). The galbi was a bit fatty and just average in taste for me. It was also LA Cut so somewhat harder to eat with the bone piece in each slice. One of the other proteins may have been a better choice.

              Personally, I liked the amount of "stuff" to rice ratio :) and the bowl came out nice and hot so had a lot of crispy rice bits.

              6 banchan. Cabbage & radish kimchis. Julienned radish. Steamed brocoli, Spicy fish cakes. Marinated seaweed. All very good. I asked for a radish kimchi refill and the 2nd bowl was a different batch. It was considerably more fermented / sour and arguably past it's prime.

              One tip. The mixed rice will not get as much of the crisped rice action that people usually want with the hot stone bowl so if the crispy rice is your thing, get it with white rice.

            2. re: Robert Lauriston

              Typo, the chap chae was $12.

            3. Returned to Bowl'd for lunch as the new banh mi place was closed for remodeling.

              Ordered from the "small plates" section: mung bean pancake, fish cake kimbap, stuffed tofu skin, chap chae, all excellent. We skipped the $2 extra for panchan, rice, and soup, made a nice light lunch for two. At 1:30 on Saturday the place was quite busy, looked like a majority of the customers were Korean. Nice to see them doing well.

              -----
              Bowl'd
              1479 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

              1. I was near Albany at lunchtime yesterday so I finally got a chance to check out Bowl’D on Solano Ave. Given the high praise on this board for Bowl’D I was hoping for much higher quality than I usually get at the only good Korean place near me, Myung Dong Tofu Cabin in the Marina shopping center in San Mateo.

                I had the Dolsot Bibimbop with the optional Galbee (+$2) and mixed rice. I liked it better than the equivalent dish at Tofu Cabin but it wasn’t an apples-to-apples comparison since I got galbee vs. the regular beef at Tofu Cabin. At Bowl’D they serve the egg already cooked sunny side up. I prefer having the raw egg broken over the top at the table since it mixes more with the other ingredients. I agree with abstractpoet that the ratio of rice to other ingredients was too low. My mixed rice was almost totally crisped and in spite of really liking the crispy part, I missed not having some soft rice left over to balance the other ingredients. Still it was very good.

                The panchan at Bowl’D was also very good but I didn’t find it head and shoulders above Tofu Cabin’s. The broccoli did nothing for me and I missed the potato dish that’s always served at Tofu Cabin. On the other hand the Bowl’D Napa cabbage kim chee was one of the best renditions I’ve had. I also really liked the crunchy texture of the spicy red Korean radish kim chee which came in medium size chunks. They brought the panchan with the rest of the meal but I’m sure if I’d asked I could have had it sooner.

                The Dolsot Bibimbop was $14 (before the $2 surcharge for the galbee), compared to $11.99 for Tofu Cabin. $19.30 before tip (my drink was $1.75) seemed high for what I got. I would go back to try other dishes and also for more of that cabbage kim chee.

                -----
                Bowl'd
                1479 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                Myung Dong Tofu Cabin
                2968 S Norfolk St, San Mateo, CA 94403

                16 Replies
                1. re: charliemyboy

                  I haven't eaten at Bowl'd but I noticed they are selling items at Berkeley Bowl West. They have kimchee--the Napa cabbage variety was 6.95 per pint while cucumber or radish were about half that cost. A couple weeks ago I saw some premade bowls, though not tonight. There were also some pint tubs of banchan, like radish.

                  -----
                  Bowl'd
                  1479 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                  Berkeley Bowl West
                  920 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA

                  1. re: ...tm...

                    Has anyone tried the Ddeok Gook (Korean New Year Rice Cake Soup)?

                    It is $10 and has rice cakes, beef broth with eggs and green onion.

                    I had the stuffed ginseng chicken stew - whole chicken stuffed with ginseng, sticky rice, dried dates, chestnuts, garlic and ginger. It hit the spot because I have an endless cold. They don't salt it but give a little side dishe of mixed salt, pepper and sesame seed. The only problem is the spoons which are like trying to eat soup with a teaspoon with a long handle.

                    I really like the mixed rice, a combo of wild sweet rice, sweet brown rice, barley, and red rice.It has a nutty taste.

                    Nice banchan. One of the kimchee was vegan made with an apple paste.

                    There is a nice complimentary cup of barley tea in a silver cup. I got the citron barley tea which was fabulous and also perfect for my cold ... warm, sweet, citrusy, the bottom had lists of sliced citron.

                    They have a little Korean ice cream case at the door with popsicles and huge fish-shaped wafers filled with vanilla ice cream and a smear of bean paste. Put a $1 each in the box over the freezer.

                    I wasn't expecting much, maybe the Korean version of Good Humor bars but both were good. I was really into the Gugen sweet corn popsicle with lots of whole kernals. It was better than any Mexican ice cream I've had with corn. There is also a pineapple popsicle.

                    The Samanco fish filled with ":artificially flavored vanilla ice cream and red bean paste" was surprisingly good. Best artificial vanilla ice cream I've ever had and the dab of red bean paste was almost like strawberries.

                    Check is delivered with a clothespin clipped to it and a complimentary lolipop.

                    The staff is super and helpful to anyone unfamiliar with Korean food.

                    I don't mean this in any negative way but It might be for me to Korean food as Slanted Door was to Vietnamese food ... though from what I read here it is authentic and not really slanted California.

                    I am so unfamiliar with Korean food and this gives me access to it. I'll probably do here what I did at Slanted Door .. go thru the whole menu. I was thinking of making 2012 the year I started to get serious about Chinese food. I guess it will be Korean at Bowl'd and then branching out after I get a little more comfortable with the cuisine.

                    They still sell the kimchee and some of the other banchan along with "The Works' bimbambop bowl at Berkeley Bowl West.

                     
                     
                     
                     
                     
                    1. re: rworange

                      I had the New Year Rice Cake soup last Sunday. It was great. I think the base is daikon radish broth, and it was filled with two different kinds of rice cakes (sliced ones and the little snowman-shaped ones), lots of shredded beef, green onions, and egg. It was so filling I ended up taking half home and had it for dinner the next night. I paid the extra $2 to have dumplings added, which I think was a good idea: they add the same steamed dumplings that you can order as an appetizer, and they were excellent in the soup. Our server said that the soup has been so popular that they're considering keeping it on the menu.

                      Good luck working your way through the menu! I'm trying to do the same thing, as this has become our go-to dinner place. Haven't found anything that I don't like yet. That ginseng chicken soup is next on my list; thanks for the photos!

                      1. re: Mola

                        I don't know how Bowl'd makes it, but most I've had has been beef broth based.

                        Usually the protein (beef at most restaurants) that is served in the soup has been simmered for a bit in water to create the broth.

                        The beef is left in the soup with a braised consistency (as you said, shredded)

                        1. re: drewskiSF

                          You're right, drewski! I went back today and the menu says "clear beef broth." They also have a vegetarian version available.

                      2. re: rworange

                        DH and I have been there a few times now. Their tofu stews (Soondooboo) are a favorite of mine but oh, I am so full afterward.

                        We had the NY Rice Cake Soup (with dumplings) a couple of weeks ago. It was cold and we were looking for something to satisfy without making us feel like we over-indulged. The soup hit the spot. My only complaint was that half of the dumplings didn't have any filling - I presume they exploded into the soup.

                        Bowl'd is becoming one of our regular haunts and is a new source of comfort food. The service has always been very good and friendly on our visits, and everyone is extremely polite. If you are not familiar with the dishes, they will guide you through.

                         
                         
                        1. re: AntarcticWidow

                          Nice photos. It never occurred to me to add text to the photo.

                          Has anyone tried the bbq?

                          1. re: rworange

                            Answering my own question I had the bbq salmon. It was blackened a bit at the edges and sat on a bed of cooked chopped cabbge.

                            It came with cabbage leaves and bean paste, I think, that you were supposed to put the salmon in with a dab of bean paste. Needless to say i didn';t know this until the end. Will give it another shot with one of the other items, maybe makarel.

                            The ginsing honey barley tea was good but I prefer the citron which came in a glass that had lots of fresh citron. This one came in a pretty pink teapot.

                            Skip the pineapple popsicle which just tasted like canned crushed pineapple frozen into a popsicle. The corn was really superior.

                             
                             
                            1. re: rworange

                              More feedback from multiple visits.

                              Shrimp tempura. The shrimp are butterflied, battered, rolled in a panko-like coating and deep fried to golden perfection. They are served with a cocktail sauce, but they will give you a small glass bowl of kochujang sauce if you ask.

                              Spicy pork BBQ. I had this last week at dinner and also wondered how to use the cabbage leaves. I watched the table beside me as they put a slick of sauce on the leaf, added some meat and folded it over to eat (reminded me of moo shu pork). The pork was quite spicy, gave my lips a tingle for the money.

                              Ginseng chicken stew. The chicken meat came apart beautifully at the touch of the chopsticks. It's been my experience that when the dark meat comes away from the bone that easily, the breast meat is dry, but such is not the case here. The breast meat was very tender and not overdone. The "strands" of ginseng provided a bitter overtone but I didn't think that it permeated the broth too much. Just know that this is more than enough for two people. I ended up taking most of it home

                              The older Korean couple beside us giggled because I had the whole chicken and DH had dolsot bibimbop. In their eyes we had ordered enough for four people. They had ordered dumplings and a bowl of the spicy beef stew between them. It was kind of fun watching them serve each other.

                              Went in for lunch today. We shared the kimchi jun (pancake). I liked this a lot, another vehicle for eating kimchi - yum. It was a substantial portion cut into six good sized pieces, crispy on the outside, and not greasy at all. There was a small bowl of dipping sauce (soy and citrus?) that was light enough to compliment and not overpower the pancake. I would easily order this again.

                              I had the sundubu jjigae (tofu stew) with pork, DH had the Dolsot Bibimbop with mixed grain and spicy pork. Both are solid dishes.

                              In honor of their one year anniversary (tomorrow?), they are giving away fabric shopping bags with their logo printed on the side. They were offering them to customers today at lunch. I am a collector of such things and happily carried my "extras" in my new bag. If you also collect shopping bags, go sooner than later.

                               
                              1. re: AntarcticWidow

                                you can also put in a bit of rice or kimchi with the meat & sauce in the cabbage. the wraps are pretty free-form with no set way though more often red-leaf lettuce, perilla or even thin radish slices before cabbage.

                                1. re: drewskiSF

                                  Seems like always parboiled cabbage at Bowl'd.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Yes. I was meaning Korean BBQ restaurants in general.

                                2. re: AntarcticWidow

                                  Thanks for the tip. The actual anniversary is Wednesdy 2/15

                                  Love the slogan on the bag: Bimbambop broken here

                                  The bag thing is a great idea, better than t-shirts or mugs for advertising. It is a nice bag too. It is light weight with handles that are stitched into the length of the bag and a bottom that provides some support. It is the best shopping bag shince the original Berkeley Bowl shopping bags. I stashed it in the car and will use it for farmers market shopping.

                                  Thanks for the terrific report too. Have you tried the corn popsicle or fish-shaped ice cream yet?

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    I took my aunt to Bowl'd Over today for lunch. Had to have my bibimbop fix - multi grain rice and salmon. My aunt had the Rice cake soup which she has ordered a few times now and really likes. We arrived about 11:30 by the time we left at 1 pm the place was packed. I know you are suppose to mix up the bibimbop but the dish looks so darn "pretty" with all of the vegetables and sunny side egg on top, I always hate to stir it up.
                                    I did ask about the second restaurant that Mr. Lauriston mentioned and the owner confirmed, "Yes" they are taking over a Pizza place or was it Mexican (?) on 9th close to Berkeley Bowl West - slow process as unlike Albany, the City of Berkeley has a lot of "red tape" and permits to get through.
                                    We were given the shopping bags with "BE BOWL'D" and "Bibimbop Spoken Here" written on one side - very nice looking. Food is always great and the folks are always very friendly.

                                    1. re: Bigshadetree

                                      Ok, so it is the old Olive or something restaurant across from the old Tofu Yu.

                                    2. re: rworange

                                      Thanks for the clarification on their anniversary date. I may have just heard "this week" and presumed it was today. I have shopping bags from different markets, some chiller bags from New Zealand, and other cloth bags from Seattle and Vancouver area. Whenever I pet sit for my neighbors, I get bags from Alaska and Minnesota. They live in the back end of my car, just call me the Bag Lady.

                                      I haven't tried the corn popsicle yet, but my husband gets the Samanco (fish-shaped) after every meal. They were delivering yesterday while we were at lunch so we knew they were "fresh". It's an artificially vanilla flavored ice cream with a layer of red bean, wrapped in a thin, wafer wrapping. I'll usually have a bite or two of his. If you don't have expectations on the level of Ici or Lush, these ice cream sandwiches are fine.

                                       
                      3. Tried a few more things.

                        The fried chicken wings were really good, nicely balanced sweet, sour, and spicy with some chopped almonds sprinkled on for extra crunch. Big helping, enough for four to share as an appetizer.

                        Oyster pancakes, simple but good.

                        Unfiltered rice wine (makgeolli) was new to me. Kind of similar to nigori sake but with a more complex and balanced flavor. The owner said it went really well with kimchi and she was right.

                        I was happy to see that the place was almost full at 9:30 on a Friday.

                        1. My favorite dish so far is the Korean ramen. It has a nice spicy beef broth, is filled with squiggly noodles, topped with fresh leeks and mushroom. it is brought to the table in one of the stone bowls while it it still bubbling. They break a raw egg into it at the table and stir.i ordered it with optional beef which was chopped, thin beef. This was the perfect dish for my never ending cold/flu.

                          Not sure how this compares to other Korean ramen as the first time i was going to try Korean Ramen was in Antigua, Guatemala last year. The joint closed before i got there, but it was probably just packaged stuff anyway

                          Korean ramen?
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/732195

                           
                          6 Replies
                          1. re: rworange

                            Sounds good. Maybe this will convince my wife to put Bowl'd back in the rotation (she doesn't like bibimbap and hasn't cared for a couple of the other menu items she's tried -- but loves all things ramen).

                            I don't know anything about Korean ramen, but I am a fan of budae jjigae ("army stew") when it's done right -- this is a huge pot of spicy soup with ramen and egg and veggies, but also spam and sliced hot dog and seafood and lots of other stuff.

                            Kang Tong Degi makes a version that's quite good, and Oriental BBQ Chicken Town's isn't bad either.

                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6556...

                            1. re: abstractpoet

                              Thanks. I'll have to give those a try to compare

                            2. re: rworange

                              Is that on the menu? The only noodles I've seen there were glass noodles and cold buckwheat noodles.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                it is on the restaurant menu but not the online menu. When I went online before writing my post to check the ingredients, i noticed it was missing online.

                              2. re: rworange

                                most Korean ramen i've seen at restaurants has been pre-packaged stuff with possibly some fresh veggies tossed on.

                                how much was it? i don't see it on their online menu.

                                1. re: drewskiSF

                                  $8

                                  It is only on the restaurant menu, the last item in the soup category

                              3. Tried the bulgogi (thinly sliced grilled beef), not sure of the Korean name for that. Excellent. The jang (miso-like sauce) was by far the best I've ever had, I asked and they make it themselves.

                                They said they're opening a second location near the West Berkeley Bowl. I hope they don't spread themselves too thin.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  The new place is going to be a bit different. They will be serving breakfast and lunch. I didn't get much info on that as they were busy, just something about more small plate options but similar.

                                  I kept pushing with "Korean breakfast?" but all I got back was yes.

                                  Maybe you don't have to commit to appetizers that are enough for two to four but are more single portion size. That has put me off trying many of the apps waiting until I could drag a friend there or finshed more of the other dishes so that I'd make a meal of the apps.

                                  Many of the dishes can be shared by two so maybe they will be smaller lunch-sized for one.

                                  I have no idea what the name will be but how about Bowl'D near the Bowl?

                                  When I said "Let me guess ... the old Tofu Yu location?" I was told it was across from there. The old Olive something or another restaurant is gone so that might be the place. That would be great as there are at least a few parking places there. Tofu Yu was always difficult parking.

                                  Thanks for the post about the bulgogi. I tried that today so I'd have a standard to compare it at other places. It really was great. It helps I'm getting over being sick. The banchan which I always liked just had brighter flavors and more nuances than I could pick up before.

                                  I was just so pleased with myself today that I'm finally getting into the groove of knowing how to eat Korean food thanks to Chowhounds.

                                  I picked up those cabbage leaves. spread a bit of the jang, topped some with beef and others with beef and rice and enjoyed.

                                  Just as I was mentally writing this post and about to complain there wasn't enough cabbage or jang, the waiter came over and asked if I'd like more. Seems like a good approach. It doesn't waste food by giving too much. Just ask for more.

                                  I'm also getting the feel of the banchan as well. I really can't begin to tell you how sick I was but I couldn't deal with much on previous visits. I'd methodically eat it sequentially. Finishing one dish before going on to the next. Today I just took bites of it while eating the sliced beef which made for nice variety of flavor to the main dish.

                                  Dumb question. When they serve the clear soup ... do you eat it with a spoon? Pick it up and drink it? Add anything to it?

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    Not dumb at all - I usually just pick it up and drink from the bowl like misoshiru at a Japanese restaurant. What I am also wondering was what is the real proper way to eat the bibimop - use the spoon for the bibimbop and the chopsticks to grab the different banchans since you are usually sharing the banchan? Its like dimsum - I noticed some of the dimsum places are using green colored chopsticks to use to select items instead of using the chopsticks you are using to eat with - but I'm probably over thinking it - just eat and enjoy the reason they call it "family style". :-)

                                    1. re: rworange

                                      Glad to hear you're feeling better. Having a cold is hard enough, not being able to taste your food is even worse.

                                      I thought I could choose a favorite banchan, but they are all good. I tend to refill on the pickled seaweed and the shredded radish most of the time - they work as a palate cleanser for me.

                                      I believe the clear soup is radish soup/broth. I think of it also as a palate cleanser and drink from the bowl just as it is.

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        Traditional Korean etiquette, don't pick up the soup or rice bowl.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          Yeah, that was what i read when googling. Does that apply to the banchan dishes as well? i had a little of one left and it was a reach and i picked it up but in the back of my mind i was thinking that probably wasn't good form.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Aha, that would explain why some folks looked at me cross-eyed. My step-family is Japanese which is where I learned my soup eating habits. It never occurred to me that it was improper.

                                          2. re: rworange

                                            soup & rice bowl are traditionally eaten with the spoon. definitely not drunk like Japanese miso soup.

                                            same with the bibimbop; should be eaten with the spoon not chopsticks. westerners sometimes try too hard and try and eat everything with the chopsticks.

                                            banchan generally with the chopsticks (some items like the fermented soybeans you go after with the spoon, so no real set rule. whatever's the easiest ;-)). if you're particular on hygiene, flip the chopsticks and grab from the communal plates with the fat end and transfer to your plate and then eat with the thin end.

                                            with a traditional family setting everyone grabs from the banchan and eats from the thin end. we're gross like that . . . or maybe it's just my family . . .

                                            1. re: drewskiSF

                                              OMG ... I've been working myself up to using chopsticks and eyeing the rice with trepidation. I love Koreans. They eat rice with a spoon.

                                              Yeah, I've been asking for a fork and they don't make you feel bad about it. All I can say I was sick and too much for me to take on.

                                              The only thing i'm not crazy about is the spoon at Dowl'D is the size of a teaspoon which can really slow you down when eating a large bowl of soup.

                                              1. re: rworange

                                                their spoon is a pretty standard size, but it's shallow shape definitely makes for small sips.

                                                like eating pho and other Asian soups, it's often a combo of the spoon & chopsticks to grab some of the solids out of the soup to eat.

                                        2. Paid a second dinner visit last weekend, and particularly enjoyed the kimchi pancake starter.

                                          Has anyone mentioned/purchased/tried the restaurant's various retail kimchis, available (at least) at Berkeley Bowl Shattuck? The cabbage version is meh IMO, and pricey at $7 a jar ... but both the radish and cucumber versions are delicious, and only $4. I go through several jars weekly. Once the cucumber kimchi was bland, a surprise since it usually packs a punch. I mentioned it to the owner at our dinner last week, and she told me it depends on how long it's been since the jar was filled. Interesting, but not easy to apply in practice, since the labels don't carry a date. Still, it was just once in a dozen or so experiences...

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: jonking

                                            I've been buying the daikon kimchi. I like the nappa kimchi that I've had at the restaurant but I don't see the point of paying twice as much.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              I take it back, I bought all three kinds of kimchi at the Bowl today, and the nappa was worth the extra money. Some of the best kimchi I've ever had. I ate half the jar, plus some of the other two for comparison.

                                            2. re: jonking

                                              Try the clear noodles made from yams. They're on the same display as the rotisseri chickens, on the bottom. Nice amount of veg that adds some crunch, the bowl itself is very substantial.

                                              1. re: Dawgmommy

                                                That's the japchae ("jhap che" on the menu). They make my favorite version of that dish.

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  It's really good, do you get a hint of peanuts in the flavor?

                                            3. Went here the other day.

                                              As far as the concept goes, they hit that one out of the park. Like RL, I was afraid that it would be Americanized...but it stays true to the cuisine while putting their own twist on it. In fact, save for the name this restaurant would not be out of place in LA's Koreatown, which has many of these types.

                                              Sadly though, the food was "just ok." I ordered the Bibimbap with mung bean pancake (I appreciated that they had that as an option) and multi-grain rice. Presentation was outstanding, as was service. Crushed almonds and quinoa(!!!) were a nice touch. Taste, on the other hand didn't fare so well. Everything wanted more salt. The mung bean pancakes had a solid texture but were bland. The variety of veggies on the bibimbap was appealing to the eye...but they tasted bland and one-dimensional and didn't really gel. Even the gochujang was bland. Quality wasn't bad but most of the veggies were a little on the mushy side. Seven panchan; most were forgettable, with the exception of the napa kimchi and spicy tofu, which were actually very good.

                                              At first glance $12 for bibimbap (stone version is $14) seems a little high, but to be fair I did leave stuffed and given that it's in Albany and not North Oakland, it's not really out of price for the neighborhood.

                                              Nothing was terrible, just bland. Previous posts have said the owners also owned Ohgane...which has similar taste/texture issues, in my experience.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Radical347

                                                Where do you go locally that's less bland? They make my favorite gochujang ever, usually I find that stuff meh.

                                                One of the owners is the daughter of Ohgane's owners and the chef used to work there.

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  I like it at To Hyang in SF and Cheon Joo Young Yang Dolsot in Santa Clara.