Mixed Grain -- Korean in Walnut Creek
I learned from a few online sources that Mixed Grain is owned by the same family that runs Ohgane, Bowl'd, etc. Like Bowl'd, you won't find offal, goat, or snacks like corn cheese on the menu, but the quality of the standard dishes/ingredients is high.
In addition to white rice, there's an option of "mixed grain rice" (wild sweet rice, sweet brown rice, barley, and wild red rice).
Banchan: The eleven items are things common in the East Bay's Korean restaurants. As far as I could tell these were all vegetarian (i.e., no anchovies or fish cake). Pickled vegetables were all crisp and nothing was overcooked. Service bonus No. 1--- I realize banchan can be refilled upon request as most places, but the server was kind enough to ask if we wanted extra.
Mung bean pancakes: We opted to get the mung bean pancake rather than a more assertive variety such as kim chi or seafood. But even so, these were bland. These were served as small half-moons rather than as a giant greasy pancake. Very crisp.
Short ribs (small order) : Excellent--- meat flavor well balanced with marinade, easy to chew, and not remotely greasy.
"Fire bird's nest" : A special on the wall saying "DO NOT TRY" and "We can't make it non-spicy." It contains BBQ chicken in a spicy sauce (gochujang?) served in a stone pot with rice and a fried egg. Delicious. Spicy enough to make my eyes water, but not so much it killed the bold flavor of the dish. Service bonus No. 2--- we declined the server's offer to make it extra-spicy, but we appreciated the offer nonetheless.
1546 BONANZA ST., WALNUT CREEK, CA 94596
I hope I get this right, but any corrections are useful - from my understanding: Bowl'd, Bowl'd BBQ, Spoon, and Mixed Grain are run by two women. One is the daughter of Ohgane's owners, the other is her best friend who is close enough to be considered an unofficial member of the family.
Bowl'd BBQ was formerly Copan, intended to be a little more Asian fusion than the other restaurants. Former Momofuku chef Eddie Jew (or Joo, depending on which article you're reading), broke up quickly with Copan's owners and went back to LA. Copan was renamed Bowl'd BBQ to take advantage of the expensive DIY grill tables; otherwise, it's almost identical to Bowl'd/Albany.
The first time we came to Bowl'd BBQ in Feb 2014, the food was good but still a bit sweet. Ohgane, the parents' restaurant, is so far off our list we can't even see it any longer. We call it The House of White Death; they use tons of sugar in everything and it's just too over the top for us.
In March 2014 we returned to Bowl'd BBQ and noticed a definite decrease in the sugar levels. We congratulated the waiter, who told us they had gotten a lot of feedback on using too much sugar (even though they use maybe half what Ohgane does), and so the kitchen was finally falling into line and not using so much.
We like the dolsot bibimbop with spicy pork and the haemul sundubu jjigae (seafood tofu soup), as well as the oyster pancakes. But spouse and I split on the KFC: he was okay with it, I found it way over-vinegared to the point I couldn't even stand the smell of it!
The banchan are plain but tasty. I wasn't impressed by their pork belly; what I received was thin slices of boneless Boston Butt, not pork belly. Lean and uninteresting.
Their food is not that hot; if you want the unsweetened ground chile sauce, just ask for it. GREAT stuff (comes gratis with the oyster pancakes)!
Also, no need to specify "raw" if you want your egg sunny-side up (e.g., runny yolk) on the dolsot bibimbop. They aim their food at AsAms and Caucasians; the fried egg comes that way standard.
The cooking is actually so low-salt and low-fat, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of customers use the soya they bring to the table automatically. Not sure why they don't just leave the soya and chile sauce bottles on every table, but I guess it's a pain to check levels and refill them on two dozen tables.
re: The Dive
the dive, glad you enjoyed Bowl'd BBQ too. My niece was always bugging me to try Bowl'd/Albany. She loves Fusebox best of all, though. That's still on our list to try. Few banchan but high quality, well-prepared food, she says.
LOL, no two people have the same "chile index". We thought the soft tofu stew (spouse has ordered it all four times we've visited Bowl's BBQ) was a 5 on our scale of 10. Not much hotter than Sophina Uong's cooking at Pican on certain dishes, although she uses sneakier chiles that build up heat.
I agree with hyperbowler, I really miss the spicy dried anchovies - love, love, love them....
4869 Telegraph Avenue @48th St., Oakland, CA
Bowl'd Korean Rice Bar
1479 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706
Spoon Korean Bistro
933 Ashby Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710
1546 Bonanza St., Walnut Creek, CA 94596. Telephone: (925) 938-5959.
2311A Magnolia Street, Oakland, CA 94607, off West Grand Avenue.
Phone: (510) 444-3100
Nice catch! That seems to be true according to these California records. It's funny. I asked the server if the owner had any other restaurants and she told me no.
It looks like there's also an ohgane in Dublin. That would make it seven restaurants total for the mother and daughter