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Alternative to Han Il Kwan?

calumin Dec 23, 2012 04:04 PM

I am taking people from out of town to dinner tonight. We are trying to find a good Korean place, in San Francisco.

Normally I go to Han Il Kwan but they have been there before so trying to find a new place. Any other recommendations? Any thoughts on To Hyang, Korean Village Wooden Charcoal, Um Ma Son, or any of the other Inner Richmond places?

I've been to Toyose, Muguboka, & Hanuri -- didn't think any of those were as good as Han Il Kwan. Same with My Tofu House on Geary.

  1. Robert Lauriston Dec 23, 2012 04:10 PM

    How about Namu Gaji?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston
      Windy Dec 23, 2012 05:12 PM

      The food at Namu is very good, but the space is exceptionally uncomfortable (wooden stools without backs) and not well suited for more than two people. I don't know what they were thinking when they designed the new space.

      1. re: Windy
        Robert Lauriston Dec 23, 2012 06:20 PM

        Huh, looking at photos they do have stools, though I went to a prix-fixe dinner there that lasted a couple of hours and wasn't particulary uncomfortable. We were seated six or twelve to a table and that was fine.

    2. b
      bigwheel042 Dec 23, 2012 04:28 PM

      To Hyang is excellent for non-BBQ dishes and the crowds have probably died down some post-Anthony Bourdain appearance. Brothers might be ok for BBQ but I thought the one dish I'd had from there (sauteed squid in chili sauce) was pretty unimpressive.

      1. v
        vulber Dec 23, 2012 08:11 PM

        namu gaji is delicious, but it sounds like they want traditional korean food, whereas namu gaji is more fusion-y.

        1. c
          calumin Dec 23, 2012 11:25 PM

          Thanks for the suggestions. We tried Namu Gaji tonight. I probably should have mentioned that the people I was taking to dinner were both older native-born Koreans used to traditional Korean cuisine. So we thought of this as a kind of social experiment.

          I wouldn't actually call this a Korean restaurant but more Korean fusion -- very strong American influences as well as Japanese. It reminds me of David Chang (but needs some work to get to the level of Momofuku restaurants in NY).

          They don't bring out a full platter of banchan -- instead we got three small plates of pickles. The kimchi was okay, not that ripe and mild in flavor. The bean sprouts had way too much sesame oil. The third vegetable was a salted, firm, green vegetable that generally didn't get eaten.

          Our three dishes:
          1) oxtail with rice cakes in gochujang sauce. Probably the best dish, because the oxtail was sufficiently tender. My guests thought the sauce was both too sweet and too spicy for this dish. I thought it was extremely sweet.

          2) stonepot - their version of bibimbap. Okay in flavor but disappointing. It lacked some ingredients like bean sprouts or bracken that would have given it more variety. Yet there wasn't any twist or fusion element to it (even though it's called "stonepot" instead of "bibimbap") so it mostly fell flat.

          3) okonomiyaki - with kimchi, oyster, and yamaimo. unfortunately, the worst dish. The texture was off (too mushy), and the sauce was off (too tangy). It was hard to discern any individual ingredients in the pancake.

          The style is modern and trendy which was nice. The seats are backless stools but we didn't think they were uncomfortable. It could get loud when crowded.

          Overall the concept is good and we had a good time, but we thought all the dishes we tried needed some work.

          1 Reply
          1. re: calumin
            vulber Dec 24, 2012 09:26 AM

            i was impressed when i went for lunch a few weeks back, but didn't get any of those dishes - it seems like what they do best is pub food - got the ganja fries and fried chicken and loved them - although the okonomiyaki at the original location was excellent; perhaps still working out some kinks....

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