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Jan 16, 2012 08:57 AM

Korean tonight in Oakland? or Indonesian in Berkeley?

Where should I go for Korean tonight in Oakland? Not necessarily looking for Korean BBQ, and casual/cheaper is ideal (there are two of us going, and I'd like the total bill to be less than $35, not including alcohol). I remember Casserole House in Oakland, which I liked, but are there other good options similar to that? Maybe a place with particularly good bi bim bap?

As an alternative to Korean, I was thinking about the Indonesian place in Berkeley, Jayakarta. Is that still there?

I've been in the Bay Area for a few days now, and have been eating a lot....there will be a full report coming later this week (it's my first time back here in almost 3 yrs)!

Thanks in advance,

Dave MP

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  1. Bowl'd in Albany is my current favorite for most Korean dishes. Bi bim bap is their specialty.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Thanks for this suggestion, but I think we'd prefer to be in Oakland. Probably downtown Berkeley is the farthest north I'd go, but Temescal-type area is better.

      Dave MP

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        and what's your favorite thing to order @ Bowl'd?

      2. I bounce between Sahn Maru (closed Tuesdays) and Casserole House. I like Sahn Maru's stone pot seafood bi bim bap. You can get out of there for under $35 if you order one bi bim bap ($13-15) and another low priced item.

        Another option if you're on the cheap is Koryo Jajang , across the street from Sahn Maru and Casserole House. Take a look at the pictures on their wall, and if it looks good, go there. Stick to the noodle rather than the rice dishes. It's Korean influenced Chinese food such as Jajangmyeon and Jam Pong (combo is $6.45!). The Jeng ban Jajang serves at least two people and is $8.95.

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

        Casserole House
        4301 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

        1 Reply
        1. re: hyperbowler

          Sahn Maru, Casserole House, and Sura are all good. Sura has the biggest selection of panchan. Ohgane's my favorite for most dishes. Pyung Chang is tops for soft tofu stew.

          Chef Yu's menu is similar to Koryo Jajang's.

        2. Jayakarta is still there and you can get a great meal esp if you know how to order (the meal I had on my own vs. when I went with an Indonesian friend seemed perceptibly different). I still like Ohgane best for Korean. Not the cheapest however but very good. They do have an all you can eat lunch buffet, but it seems to lack the care they put into the food at dinnertime. Oriental B B Q Chicken Town @ 62rd/Telegraph has a good value meal if you crave KFC. For ~$35 you get a set menu + beer to feed 4 hungry people. Open late (1a?) and chill atmosphere, conducive to drinking and hanging out. I also like the little Korean cafe next to Remedy at the start of the tiny strip mall (the storefront is on Telegraph with photos of food). The food is homey and cheap (<$10).

          9 Replies
          1. re: rubadubgdub

            Ohgone lunch buffet is mediocre, at best.

            1. re: escargot3

              I tried Ohgane's lunch buffet once, would not do it again, it was far inferior to their usual standard.

            2. re: rubadubgdub

              Jayakarta tips:

              How does Oriental BBQ Chicken stack up against the best KFC? The mobs of students seem to like it, but the chicken didn't live up the KFC buzz from a few years back. It reminded me of what I bought in NYC Chinatown in the early 90s, at a fried chicken cart near the Canal/Walker/Baxter triangle. For all I know, that was KFC but I doubt it.

              Oriental B.B.Q. Chicken Town
              6101 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

              1. re: hyperbowler

                I'm not the best judge as I tend not to like sweetness with meats and the KFC falls in that category for me. I always want more a bit more acid or salt. I do prefer Chinese fried chicken which is a lot more savory. But the set meal at Oriental works bc the other dishes balance out the chicken and the ambiance is conducive.

                1. re: hyperbowler

                  My favorite Korean fried chicken dish in Oakland so far is the gan poon ki (?) at Chef Yu's aka Yuyu Zazang.


                  1. re: hyperbowler

                    OB Chicken Town's garlic-soy fried chicken is my favorite so far in the Bay Area, but doesn't come close to stacking up to what's available on the East Coast at, say, the various Bon Chon Chicken locations. It's a crispiness issue. I don't know if they use the same double-frying technique.

                    I also like OBCT's garlic fries and budae jjigae (army stew).

                    1. re: abstractpoet

                      OB Chicken Town's breading has been pretty thick the last couple times I've been (last time about a year ago). I think of KFC as having a very thin / light coating.

                      There's a Bon Chon in Sunnyvale. I haven't been yet.

                      Bon Chon
                      572 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                      1. re: drewskiSF

                        Some Korean restaurants do both styles, thick batter and the light dusting. The first few times I went to Dan Sung Sa we kept ordering the wrong one and watching what we wanted go by on its way to other tables.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          I guess I haven't paid close enough attention. Only noticed the thicker batter chicken at Dan Sung Sa.

                2. Seoul Gomtang is great for Beef Soup(gomtang) and soft tofu soup. They have added some stewed dishes to their menu which are also very good, Kalbi JJim (braised short ribs) and Dak Gomtang (chicken soup with ginseng and stuffed with rice).
                  They are much cheaper than most of the a fore mentioned restaurants but have very simple panchan.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: chefj

                    I think Seoul Gomtang's prices are about the same as most of the other places mentioned, maybe a buck cheaper on some items.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Really about 2 bucks cheaper on almost every thing and more on some items.

                    2. re: chefj

                      fyi, the stuffed chicken soup is called Samgyetang

                    3. Thanks again everyone for the suggestions. I ended up at Sahn Maru on Monday night, and thought it was pretty good, but not great. See my report here for more:

                      I think next time I might stick with Casserole House next door, although perhaps the meal at Sahn Maru would have been better on a different night or with a larger group.

                      Dave MP

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Dave MP

                        Small servings of banchan are not uncommon. Probably from having to throw away a lot of uneaten plates of kimchi. They definitely don't mind bringing more, and you shouldn't feel awkward about doing so.

                        Next time try the goat stew :)

                        1. re: Dave MP

                          I agree that Sahn Maru's "pretty good but not great," although I haven't had their signature goat stew.

                          The next time you're looking for something other than Casserole House, try Sura. They have a few different types of bibimbap and although it is a bit more expensive than the others, you can still get two meals for <$35 and they give you about a gazillion side dishes.

                          1. re: Radical347

                            And the galbi jim at Sura is awesome!

                            1. re: Radical347

                              Supposedly you need to order Sanh Maru's goat stew it for at least two people to get the full treatment.