Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Kaya Tofu & BBQ. Bonus: East Bay Korean Food Review!

Kaya Tofu & BBQ is a new-ish Korean restaurant in the Peninsula. In fact, many people seem to believe it's the only Korean restaurant in that entire area, with the next closest being in Sunnyvale/Cupertino or San Francisco.

In the last week, I've had the opportunity to go twice, both times to meet up with different friends who work in that area. The first time, I tried the Pork Soon Dooboo and my friend tried the Galbi Tang. The second time, I tried the Kimchi Jjigae and my friend had what I had last time. We also split a pan-fried tofu appetizer.

Both times, the soups were tasty enough that I didn't really notice them. See, that sounds like an insult, but I don't mean it as such. They was tasty in just the way I had hoped and expected. I wasn't disappointed. I also wasn't falling out of my seat in ecstasy, but they are dishes I'd definitely get again when I get the craving.

They have the full complement of the general dishes you get in a generalized Korean restaurant: the basic stews, BBQ dishes, noodles, dumplings, and bibimbops. And from the smell of things, they make everything just fine.

So if you live on the Peninsula, I think you'll be very happy with Kaya. You won't say it's your favorite restaurant ever, but you'll probably find yourself going back when the old craving hits.

The thing with Korean food (and many other types of food) is that you really want to be able to go to a specialty restaurant for a specific dish you want. You want tofu stew, you go to a tofu joint (like Pyung Chang Tofu). You want grilled BBQ, you go to a grilled BBQ joint (like Ohgane, Sam Won, or Koryo).

Wait, this could use a list about now. Here is a guide to East Bay Korean food.
You Want:Go To:
Grill-at-table BBQKoryo, Sam Won, or Ohgane
Tofu stewPyung Chang Tofu
Oxtail soupSeoul Gom Tang II*
Jja jang myunYet Nal Jja Jang
Grilled pork & rice cake wraps w/ drinksKang Tong Deji*
BBQ Chicken w/ beerI forget the name of this place. OB Chicken?
"Formal" or "Full" mealSahn Maru

The places I've put *s on are hard-to-find or only have the tiniest sign.

There are places that I've been to in Oakland that either didn't leave an impression or I didn't like:
  • Lee's BBQ. I don't remember it. But I think it was ok.
  • Hahn's Hibachi. Please, please kill me now.
  • That stand in the Emery Bay Food Court. Really greasy, but ok flavor-wise. Fine for food court food, but that's it.
  • That other stand in the Emery Bay Food Court that serves noodle soups. Soup base is great, but wtf is up with that fake-ass not-kimchi vinegared cabbage thing posing as kimchi? It's disgusting. Over all, so-so.
  • Jong Ga House. The sides (banchan) are some of the best I've ever had. They give you a feast-worthy quantity of food and is sort of country-style, as far as I can tell, with more old-fashioned flavors. That said, I don't like their stew dishes so I don't go back even though it's so close. I should give it another shot though. Other people love it.
Places I have not yet tried:
There are a couple near downtown Oakland and in Chinatown too.


Blogger ei-nyung said...

Ok, now I need you guys to make up guides of your own so I can use them. Like, who has the best Vietnamese claypot? Who has the best fried rice? Who has the best pizza?

7:08 PM  

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