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Oct 22, 2011 04:07 PM

Sahn Maru Korean BBQ

After a long hiatus, a few of us sauntered over to Sahn Maru for the lunch special today and were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the preparation.

First of all, the tea: the roasted barley tea had a really enjoyable flavor. It was definitely a cut above average.

Then the Banchan: by far, better than recent experiences at Ohgane - crisp flavors, nicely balanced.

And the Dakgalbi (marinated chicken in spicy sauce) was tender, on a bed of slowly sauted onions that were given the time to become nice and sweet and mop up the flavor of the chicken marinade. And a huge plus: it was actually a bit spicy, as requested.

The only disappointment: bim mebop was not prepared in a cast iron pot, and the rice was served on the side. So we missed having that crispy browned rice at the bottom of the pot. But at the same time, it was flavorful, not oily, and all ingredients were fresh. So I wonder if this is just their simplified lunch approach. Or if this is the style of a particular region of Korea.

We all enjoyed it. Plenty of food for 3 of us. And I will definitely go back again soon.
ps- lunch special is served Wed-Sat. Almost all the tables were occupied when we left, mostly Korean families.

Sahn Maru Korean BBQ
4315 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

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  1. By definition bibimbap is stuff on top of rice. If you got something rice on the side, I think they got your order wrong.

    If you want the stone bowl you have to order dolsot bibimbap, which is more expensive and not among the lunch specials.

    Try the black goat stew sometime. I think you have to order it for two or more to get the works.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      ah that might be the ticket.

      one of our group doesn't eat beef or pork, so we asked for a version with chicken instead.
      So perhaps that was the game changer.

      1. re: escargot3

        "Dolsot" means literally "stone pot" and, if you have to show them what you want: 돌솥 비빔밥

        I've never had a problem getting tofu or vegetarian bibimbap (vegan would be minus the egg). Then you could mix some of the spicy chicken in.

        I learned maybe two words in Korean when I was there decades ago, before it was a modern country. All I can remember now are "how are you" and "thanks" and the phrase "I eat watermelon," a phrase I found necessary after trying Korean desserts!

      2. re: Robert Lauriston

        That actually is how Sahn Maru serves it (at lunch, at least. Haven't been for dinner.) I saw someone at the table next to me order bibimbap and get the same thing. It's not common, but it's not the only restaurant where they do this -- another one is Choi's in Santa Clara.

        3530 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95051

        1. re: Radical347

          i've never seen the rice served on the side. now i want to go to Sahn Maru to try their regular bibimbap and see the unique presentation. i've only had the Dol Sot BBB there and at Choi's. can't remember the last time i had it in the regular (non-hot stone) bowl.

          1. re: drewskiSF

            It's not really too simplified with the toppings bowl carefully arranged like your typical bibimbap. here you dump the rice on top of the toppings and mix.

            Possibly they have the sets of toppings prepared in the bowl already and then just add the fresh fried egg & smaller bowl of steamed rice when an order comes in.

            I guess it can be good if your on a low carb diet so you can just add 1/2 the rice or none at all.

            All the veggies tasted pretty good and nice runny fried egg, but the meat was ground beef, not the usual small pieces of bulgogi (3rd pic).

      3. I'm a fan of Sahn Maru, and have been for a long time. Folks are correct that in order to get the crispy rice you need to order Dol Sot BBB. However, I don't think that even if ordered correctly that it is one of their better dishes. Their soups and stews are their strengths- I think the Soon Dobu (tofu soup) has a depth of flavor that I haven't found in too many other places. On their menu they have a list of house specialties, and anything I've ordered from that has been excellent. Additionally, their service is warm and responsive.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jillyju

          Do you like the casserole house? I do except for the uncomfortable benches.

          1. re: rccola

            I've only been there once. We may not have ordered well, but what we had was just alright. If I went again, I'd go with folks who knew their way around the menu.

        2. can you tell me what's been the problem with the banchan at Ohgane? I haven't been in months, but i thought they were all very good then...

          3915 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94611

          3 Replies
          1. re: mariacarmen

            nothing negative about the banchan at Ohgane. it's more that by comparison, our selection at Sahn Maru was more interesting -- flavors seemed more complex.

            1. re: escargot3

              ok thanks, i'm going to have to get to Sahn Maru.

              1. re: mariacarmen

                If it is Banchan your after you should also check out Sura. They consistently put out 12 to 20 and are of high quality.