Saturday, June 09, 2007

Koryo Wooden Charcoal Barbecue

Yesterday I lunched at Oakland's Koryo Wooden Charcoal Barbecue, hoping to find those buns that Bon Vivant has on her blog. Alas, no buns. (The cheapest appetiser was about nine bucks--and I think it was fried shrimp).

I arrived around 2:30, after running work errands. It was a Friday and I trolled Telegraph Avenue trying to figure out what the best Korean place would be for a late lunch. Koryo is hidden in the corner of a little Korean strip mall, and has some parking, for the very lucky. I was lucky.

They take plastic, so in I went. The waitress seemed surprised when I asked if they were still open. How was I to know? It was pretty late for lunch and the place was empty except for staff. She seated me at a table for six, facing a large, dirty aquarium. I noticed later that the aquarium had water, rocks, etc., but no fish. But there was a large can of fish food next to it. Hmmmmm.

I had lots to read with me, so didn't fret when the waitress ignored me to do her prep work at other tables. I ordered Bulgogi for $5.95 and a diet soda. The soda came quickly, as did some water.
Eventually, out she came with a large tray. She plopped down about nine little bowls of stuff, a small metal bowl of rice, a larger metal bowl of what looked to be hot pond water, and a sizzling metal and wood tray of beef. No individual plate. Here's your spoon, here's your chopsticks. Goodbye.

She left me to contend with the array of food in front of me. I recognized the rice, cucumber, and kim chee. There were two kinds of cold sprouts: one with large beans and one that was fatter and grey. As I'm pregnant and can't remember the warnings about sprouts, I ate them sparingly. There was some chunked vegetable in a kimchee type arrangement, and another crunchy green type of vegetable also fermented. I liked the pickled, shredded something. Daikon? The pond water tasted like pond water and I wondered if the aquarium served a purpose. There was a cold potato, fried (tempura'd?), and plunked in honey that was interesting.
The one thing I really, really hated looked like fat string beans but tasted like it had been scraped off the inside of said aquarium. After reading other reviews, I wonder if this was some sort of reconstituted fish product? Ieewwwww. (I'm not an adventurous eater. Really, I'm not.)
The beef itself was good and plentiful, though a bit bland. I would have liked more kimchee to go with it, but was reluctant to ask. There were no sauces on the table.

As I was finishing up a party of three came in. They were college students, and appeared to be Asian. The waitress was no ruder or more polite to them than she was to me. With a tip and tax, I paid $10.65 for my very filling lunch.

I'd like to go back to experience the bibimbap and the grilling. And as I passed the kitchen staff sitting together for their own lunch, an older man joyfully yelled through a mouthful of rice, "THANK YOU!"

1 comment:

Bon Vivant said...

Never be reluctant to ask for more panchan (those little side dishes) and especially for more kimchee. The beans that you described may have been some type of sea vegetable.

Usually with the bubbaqued meats you get a sesame oil dip (that you are supposed to add salt to), chili garlic sauce, a soy based sauce, and/or a fermented bean paste (my favorite with unmarinated meat).

If you want to find the buns, try checking out a large Korean grocery store; most of them have to-go places and you might find them there.