We are still looking some decent/good Korean restaurants on the peninsula- what are current favorites (there are some older discussions but they tend to be before covid so not sure if still reliable). On the weekend we are also often driving further for good food/restaurants and would be also interested in great Korean places in SF or East Bay
San Ho Wan, in SF.
If you are going to the East Bay purely for Korean, you should consider going to Santa Clara. That’s where all the Korean restaurants are.
What are your preferred Korean restaurants in Santa Clara ?
I only eat kalbijjim or noodle soup infrequently and I don’t really eat BBQ so I don’t know the Santa Clara scene very well. But I enjoyed Daeho and Kunjip. Though its very likely there are others that are the same or better.
I have been to Jang Su Jang a number of times, but never thought its great even though its the cafeteria for visiting Korean business people.
A Korean coworker who’s eaten at many Korean restaurants around and entertained many visiting execs at restaurants said Benu is his best Korean in the Bay Area. He suggested a few BBQ joints in Santa Clara, Ilbunjee being one of them. I don’t remember the others.
Jang Su Jang
+1 for Kunjip, havent been in 3 yrs or so, but really liked it back then…
Kunjip was notorious for being the place to go for the 2-3 dishes they concentrated on (as well as free extra servings of noodles), but nowadays, I don’t know if there’s any Korean restaurant that can claim that kind of overwhelming supremacy. I suspect they make the noodles in-house, but I’d be hard pressed to say I wouldn’t equally enjoy store-bought noodles prepped well somewhere else (or even at home).
There is a really awesome little shop (Sodam) that makes rice cakes in Dublin that puts the Santa Clara bakeries that supply all the Korean supermarkets to shame, though.
Pre-pandemic, I was a big fan of the serve yourself banchan bar at Sigoljip, which is on the same street as Chungdam but is very much a the hole-in-the-wall that’s been there forever through a number of owners. I feel like the food there in general is less overly sweet as more popular restaurants.
In the same kind of no-frills genre is Yummy Tofu a few miles south.
I wouldn’t call either destination spots but I definitely opted for takeout from there rather than from the fancier Korean places.
For fancier stuff, but not as fancy as 10 Butchers, Don Blanc in the mini-Korean Oakland Plaza was pretty decent. Their touted Canadian pork belly was fine but honestly was less memorable than their very unsubtly Fred Flinstone-sized Monster Beef Rib. Next door is the decidedly more traditional and less accessible Moo Bong Ri, and also a new Jajangmyeon shop I’ve been meaning to try out. That entire area is full of places if you’d rather not make the trek down to Santa Clara. There’s also a fair amount of Korean restaurants in Milpitas and Fremont that I’d say at least food wise are up to par with Jang Su Jang (and their own Milpitas branch is probably a bit better than the Santa Clara one).
So Gong Dong ¶ - I would eat lunch there occasionally. It seemed OK.
Su Dam (LA, barely) - also seemed OK.
Daeho kalbijjim (SM) - haven’t tried
Soon’s (FC) - seemed OK
Superhot (MV) - says “korean” looks chinese, but I’ve seen long lines
There seems to be a lot of places that call themselves korean because they make Kalbi tacos. Leaving those out.
Have you tried some of these? Opinions?
(yeah, lots of real-deal places in Santa Clara county as noted)
I’ve been looking forward to trying Superhot but I’m guessing they’ve nixed the outdoor dining. 10 Butchers also seems to have dismantled their tent. It’d be interesting to make a shortlist of top Korean restaurants with decent outdoor setups.
For your weekends, if you are willing to come to the EBay:
JooDooBoo: Not a restaurant, although they do offer one noodle obowl and one rice bowl each week. It’s take-out and banchan deli. Their housemade tofu and weekly banchan selections are excellent. They took over the old Kebabery location.
Technically in the Temescal neighborhood, but NOT the hipster area which centers on Telegraph. If you are not driving to specifically go to JDB you’d never discover it, LOL.