We decided to go on an adventure the other night and ended up at this home style Korean restaurant in Oakland. For context purposes, it was a weeknight and the restaurant was fully packed. It's not a huge restaurant, but also not a hole in the wall; and probably best suited for a group of 2-5 people. Most of the diners were Korean, which for me, is a good sign when it comes to Korean restaurants.
We ordered a seafood pancake appetizer, grilled flatfish with rice, and spicy bibimbap with a fried egg. Our dinner started with a ridiculous amount of complimentary banchan, an array of mini plates [16 here] complimenting the Korean cuisine. A few notables included spicy fermented radish (with a lovely crunch factor), spicy fermented cabbage, or kimchi, (a bit on the salty side but balanced out with the remainder of the dishes), sesame oil glazed potatoes, hard cooked black beans, and pickled cucumbers with sesame oil and garlic. We were also served with a cold kimchi noodle soup which had the perfect amount of spice. My only wish was that it was hot soup since it was freezing out.
The seafood pancake came out next. A huge portion with golden crisp square pancake pieces heavily dotted with assorted seafood bits and served with a sweet/spicy sauce floating with sesame seeds (which really just tasted like soy sauce).
The grilled flat fish was also cooked beautifully. Although it wasn't heavily seasoned, the fish was light and tender, fell right apart, and was extremely well paired with the banchan. We ate it bone dry. Literally.
Then came the hot pot which was my favorite of the night. All the ingredients including the seafood, rice, vegetables, tofu and raw egg came sizzling in a hot pot. Because it's cooked in a stone pot, you get a divine layer of crispy rice waiting for you at the very bottom of the pot. The veggies were all fresh and perfectly proportioned to the rice and seafood. The dish was just so full of flavor til the very last bite, which is a rare case for me.
The interior of the restaurant is definitely old school and a bit on the murky side. But this kind of restaurant definitely doesn't make its win with the ambiance but rather its authentic, home style cooking.
On the whole, what this restaurant has to offer is not bad at all. I won't be rushing to go back but I also wouldn't mind trying more things from the menu like the all you can eat shabu shabu and soups and stews.