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Nov 29, 2013 11:02 AM

Gogi Time in Oakland

A friend tipped me that Gogi Time will be opening shortly in Oakland with AYCE Korean BBQ and Chinese hot pot. The a la carte Korean menu will follow.

According to its FB page, the soft opening is December 4 and 5.

Gogi Time
2600 Telegraph Ave Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 834-5757
Monday — Saturday
11:30am — 2am
12pm — 11pm

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  1. Gogi Time is today's Tasting Table review.

    Worth noting that the table top grills are fired with wood charcoal.

    Who's tried it?

    9 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      I'm curious if they spruced up the interior. Went once years ago, the place was so grim I never went back.

      Bowl'd BBQ has AYCE for $24.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        It's FB page has a couple shots of the interior.

        Does Bowl'd BBQ use wood charcoal?

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Not very many use wood any more, which is why I pointed it out. Sam Won, which was in that spot before, did.

            1. re: chefj


              Just learned from a friend that at Gogi Time, if you have at least five people for All You Can Eat, you can get both the Hot Pot and the Korean BBQ. Otherwise, you have to choose one or the other.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Love the look of that Szechuan Broth in the Ying Yang Hot Pots.

                1. re: chefj

                  Hope we read some live reports soon.

                  My friend was there in a party of four. He managed to join up with another party of four strangers in order to get the full monty. His ability to economize and maximize value never ceases to amaze me.

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            Bowl'd BBQ AYCE is only pork belly (with 5 different marinades), for BBQ.

            They also have at Hot Pot AYCE

        1. Went a couple of weeks ago with a group of 7 and ordered their all-you-can eat BBQ. Let's say in summary that while I'd go back perhaps for the all-you-can-eat hot pot to try, and would go back if I were with a group of friends who insisted, I would not return otherwise. Here was our experience (from what I can recall). It was a Friday 2 or 3 weeks ago.

          We walked in and the first thing I quipped was that I hope they offer their staff extra lung cancer insurance. Imagine standing beside a charcoal BBQ in your back yard where the wind is blowing all the smoke in your face. Now imaging staying in that spot for 2 hours. (Now imagine working there!) They do have overhead fans at each table which probably help a lot (it would be quite uninhabitable without them I expect). But your eyes burn and your clothes need a good airing out (as do your lungs) after a meal.

          We started out as a group of 4 and then morphed into a group of 6 and then 7 as we learned people were coming with friends. We put our name on the list. We waited at least half an hour, but probably more as we watched all the other groups who came in later getting seated ahead of us. One problem is that they do not have any smaller tables, so when groups of 2 come in (and there were quite a few), they stick them at 8-tops and do not require groups to share a table. So we were stuck watching all these large tables wasted on 2 people while we waited and waited. Seating was all rather chaotic with lots of pushy clientele.

          We finally got seated. Our server was excellent --she was personable, knowledgeable of their menu, quick with suggestions, humorous. Her attitude was the high point for me. We ordered the AYCE BBQ and various panchan.

          The BBQ: I hate to suggest this, but it is just a matter of time, folks, before they cause very serious injury to someone, if not burn the place down. They have staffers carrying what are basically large tubs of glowing hot coals through a very crowded and noisy room and placing them over the seated patrons in the middle of the table with an angled grill that is itself blazing hot and just ready to slide off in one direction or another. One slip or customer not paying attention...

          The food was ok, but nothing great. Sitting there waiting for things to grill for a group of 7 takes a lot of time and the fun wears off pretty quick. The meats needed major seasoning in my opinion. One could order marinated or non-marinated meat. I found the non-marinated to be flavorless. The marinated was fine but not memorable. We then ordered some of the seafood --octopus, squid, clams. Also pretty bland. Moreover, octopus and squid require attention so they do not come out rubbery. It was hard to control that aspect of cooking in that environment, so the cooking quality was never quite right. We ended with chicken and beef (I think). The beef was the best of the meats in my opinion.

          In short, I would have rather had it cooked for us by the kitchen chefs than do it ourselves. (I actually think that cooking yourself in that way works better for 2 or 3 people rather than 6 or 7 because you can space things out better both on the grill and across time.)

          We ended up eating enough to make it worth the bill, but we did not gorge. Having to do all the cooking work went a long way towards mitigating how much we ended up eating. (Incidentally, they have a fee/"fine" for any plates of food you order as part of AYCE but then simply don't cook/eat).

          Panchan were ok --rather limited. And rather forgetable: I have little recollection of what we were given.

          All,in all it was fun to check out (and maybe the hot pots would be better). But I'm not itching to go back --AYCE is just not as attractive a proposition as it was when I was 20 years younger, especially if I'm having to work for it!

          11 Replies
          1. re: MagicMarkR

            Sounds like maybe their hoods need work. The charcoal places I've been to are not smoky. Sometimes they feel drafty because so much air is being sucked past you.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              We were there on Sunday for lunch as part of a group of 25. Charcoal is only used after 5:00 but our group prevailed on them & they set us up. It was not smokey! We had good service. Everything we had seemed to be of good quality & was very fresh. Including tax & tip it was $32/pp. I'd return.

              1. re: RWCFoodie

                Did you have AYCE hot pot too for your large group?

                So far, no reports on the hot pot, only BBQ.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Yes, we did. We had 2 tables put together so there were I think 10 at the table. The hot pot at one end & the grill at the other. Difficult but we made it work.

                  We did a split hot pot, half spicy, half not spicy (don't remember exactly what).

                  We had virtually everything offered. They refilled the broth several times. Fresh ramen added at the end was very good & by then the broth was a delight.

                  Was it the best hot pot I've ever had? No, but it was darn good! Quality of raw ingredients was very good IMO.

            2. re: MagicMarkR

              Could be. And perhaps I exaggerated a bit on the smokiness, but really not much. Maybe better to go at a different time/day. Friday at peak time was pretty crazy, and of course people wanted to check out the new place. I note that RWC went before the restaurant had time to fill up with smoke from every table using a grill for the previous 3 hours, so no doubt it was not so smokey then.

              I agree with RWC that the ingredients were of good quality. I just found the meat by itself lacked flavor. As a group we agreed that one needs to order the marinated meats rather than the non-marinated for that reason.

              1. re: MagicMarkR

                Please remember that charcoal is only offered after 5:00. We got it at 12:30 only after pulling strings because we were a large group & the person who set it up knows the owner. I can see if it was during the evening & every table was using charcoal that it could be smokey & noisy.

                As far as the meats being tasteless, maybe so in the hot pot but a swish in the dip was ok for me.

                1. re: MagicMarkR

                  Saeng (unmarinated) galbi usually has absolutely no seasonings on it, even like salt or pepper. With the unmarinated it's easier to judge the unadulterated meat quality.

                  That said, it's typically served with a sesame oil and salt/pepper dipping sauce which is meant to be the seasoning for it. You might also get the typical ssam jang (thick brownish sauce which is a mix of doenjang (Korean 'miso'), gochujang (chili paste), sesame oil, and other spices) that you get with marinated Galbi.

                  Did they give you anything like that?

                  Even with the sesame oil / salt dip, I personally prefer the marinated (and I'm Korean)

                  1. re: drewskiSF

                    Yes, sorry, deleyed response. They did provide the dipping sauces. I hear you on the seasoning issue and judging the quality, and that the flavor comes largely with the dipping sauces. I confess not having too much expertise in the "genre" so perhaps it was done as it was supposed to be. In any event, I too preferred the marinated.

                2. re: MagicMarkR

                  Ohgane on Broadway also gets really thick with Smoke.
                  We often avoid it for just that reason. The food is quite good but the Atmosphere gets too toxic.

                  1. re: chefj

                    I've been to Ohgane lots of times and never seen it smoky. I can smell it when I walk in but the hoods suck up the smoke efficiently.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      That has not been the case the many times I have been there. Thick smoke billowing out from under the hoods. The Owners were convinced that it was the air from the Door that was causing the problem and that is why they put up the Glass Wall. Unfortunately that is not the problem.

                3. Been meaning to post my experiences here for awhile. I've been twice now--first within a week of opening, and 2nd time at the end of January. Slight changes to cost and menu between the two visits (prices rose by about $5 for AYCE).

                  Although I acknowledge the smoke issues, I appreciate that Gogi Time is using authentic charcoal and not a butane grill where no caramelization of meats is possible. We've tried marinated beef, chicken, and spicy pork, and so far the spicy pork is the clear winner. I've seen tables get their food grilled by the kitchen, so that is definitely an option. In this case, I think grilling my own food is part of the experience, and I enjoy it.

                  If panchan is what you are looking for, I think that Jong Ga House on Grand is a much better location. But for the overall experience, actual quality of meats, and the service, I would actually say I prefer Gogi Time. Some of Jong Ga's panchan is really excellent though.

                  I think that this may be a case of experiences being viewed through a window of expectations. The place that used to be there was way smokier, and a bit seedy. This place is actually using quality ingredients, has a friendly and responsive staff, and I think the overall flavors are good. Is it great? No? Is any AYCE place great though? Not in my experience. I like it and I'll be back.