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Restaurant Guide



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Yume Sushi 1428 Park St., Alameda, 510-865-7141. A meal at this tiny, hidden second-story restaurant is like eating in a treehouse: The locals would love to post a "Keep Out Outsiders" sign on the door, but instead they'll content themselves with the fact that you may never find it. Inside, the owner slices generous slabs of fish, and proffers beers and a big menu of small-plates like oshitashi, soy-braised tuna, and potato croquettes. $$$$

Zabu Zabu 1919 Addison St., #102, Berkeley, 510-848-9228. Shabu-shabu, Japan's contribution to communal, convivial tabletop cooking, stars at this sleek, trendy Berkeley hideaway. Diners dunk paper-thin slices of ribeye, lamb, pork, or chicken (or seafood or vegetables) in a burbling broth, re-dip them in a choice of sauces, and devour at will. Although the process becomes work-intensive and the vittles are on the bland side pre-saucing, it's a fun and festive option for a group of friends or a couple on their first date. Excellent selection of small plates includes cloudlike tempura, a spiky seaweed salad, and buttery baked mussels with scallions. Among the luncheon options are a rich, pungent unagi rice bowl and a bountiful bowl of dark-meat chicken soup with udon. $$$


Dan Sung Sa 2775 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-663-5927. Dan Sung Sa, aka "Porno Palace," is the most well known, and maybe the most raucous, Korean pub (or soju bang) in Oakland. No porn is involved — the restaurant is actually named after an old movie theater in Seoul, hence the (non-pornographic) movie posters plastered everywhere. You can, however, order "Porno Fries," a fusion-y riff on chili cheese fries topped with spicy pork. The menu is heavy on street snacks, but you can also order the same dishes you'd find at more formal Korean restaurants: barbecued meats, tofu stews, and such. Among the several different kinds of fried chicken available, the whole-chicken option (a Cornish game hen) has awesomely crispy skin. Finally, if — and only if — you're feeling daring, try the chrysalis soup: a spicy broth chock-full of maybe a hundred crunchy, peanut-size silkworm pupae. $$

Jong Ga House 372 Grand Ave., Oakland, 510-444-7658. It's impossible not to overeat here. You order one entrée and it comes with twelve little dishes filled with pickled vegetables, salads, dried fish, and other delights — and they're all good, too. While the standard grilled meats are fine, let the servers steer you toward more unfamiliar stews, soups, and sautéed dishes, especially those containing fish. Vegetarian choices are limited but tasty. $$

Ohgane Korean Restaurant 3915 Broadway, Oakland, 510-594-8300. Ohgane is the kind of place where you can take your mother. And your grandfather. And your thirteen cousins and their kids, too. This Korean barbecue is big enough for several football teams to grill their own kalbi, chicken, and octopus. The quality of the barbecued meats, stews, and all the little side dishes is quite high. But when fourteen families decide to hold their reunions there, the servers can't keep up. $$-$$$

Oriental B.B.Q. Chicken Town 6101 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-595-5338. Though OB Town (as regulars call this popular Korean pub) looks a bit like a tiki bar inside — picnic tables, paper lanterns, an indoor "roof" — you'll find nary a Mai Tai on the menu. Instead, comically oversize plastic bottles of Korean beer and fruity soju cocktails are the drinks of choice. As for food, it's no surprise that chicken is the star — thirteen different versions, including several takes on the über-crisp double-fried chicken that Koreans are famous for. For maximal crunch, order the standard batter-fried chicken; for a saucier experience, go for the deliciously goopy soy-and-garlic marinated Gan Jang. Other crowd-pleasers include extremely garlicky garlic fries and ramen dduk bok ki, a street dish that consists of rice cake sticks, instant ramen, tofu triangles, and a hard-boiled egg — all swimming in a bright-red sweet-and-spicy sauce. $$

Pyeongchang Tofu House 4701 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-658-9040. Looking a little like a Bavarian lodge, Pyung Chang specializes in rustic soon dubu jjigae, spicy soft-tofu stews. The beef and mixed seafood stews are particularly good, and vegetarians will find dishes to suit their needs. If you're not sure how to eat your stew, don't worry; the waiters will be happy to boss you around. $$

Sahn Maru Korean BBQ 4315 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-653-3366. Though the menu lists barbecue, you won't find charcoal grills spewing essence de campfire at Sahn Maru. The restaurant specializes in Korean soups and stews, such as a kimchi soft tofu soup and a show-stopping, unique goat stew with sesame leaves and scallion. Some of the other grilled and steamed meats can vary in quality, but the pan-fried fish, pancakes, and myriad side dishes hit their marks. Prices are high, but so is the quality of the service. $-$$

Seoul Gomtang 3801 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-597-9989. You may have trouble finding Seoul Gom Tang II, since the sign is in Korean — look for the LCD sign in the window of a tiny building on the corner of MacArthur and Telegraph. Almost everyone in the restaurant is Korean, too, and they're all sitting in front of mammoth bowls of noodles. The steaming bowls are filled with gut-warming beef noodle soup, and the shallow ones with condensation around the rim hold iced buckwheat noodles in chilled beef broth, a summer favorite. Plus the kimchi is top-notch. $


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