Printer Friendly

A fiery, hands-on experience.

You'll find it at San Francisco's Korean bulgogi restaurants

HUNGRY FOR SUMMER, even though the vernal equinox has barely crept by? Grilling your own meal at one of San Francisco's growing number of Korean barbecue restaurants might be a way to tide yourself over until it's time to roll out the backyard grill.

Koreans have only really begun to settle in San Francisco within the last 15 to 20 years; their numbers are now estimated at about 20,000. Though these people proudly maintain their cultural integrity, there is not an obvious "Koreatown" here as there is in Los Angeles. But many San Francisco Korean live and do business in the Richmond district--around Geary Boulevard, from Arguello Avenue west to 28th Avenue.

Look between the lube shops and lighting stores on this unprepossessing strip, and you'll be struck by the number of restaurants bearing signs written in the distinctively round Korean characters, and all devoted to one kind of food: charcoal-grilled Korean barbecue (bulgogi).

These places are clean but simple. In some, the laminate-topped tables are set in neat wooden booths. YOu won't sink into any designeresque mauve upholstery here, but you will feel a sense of genuine discovery. Very few non-Koreans seem to dine at these restaurants, though they're only a block south of Clement Street's dense array of popular Asian eateries.

Normally, Koreans eat with silver chopsticks, and approach mealtime with a certain amount of mannerly reserve. Barbecue is more spontaneous. Diners tend marinated meat or seafood over a wood-buring brazier at their table, letting it grill exactly to their liking. In summer, Korea's season for fresh lettuce, there's an additional treat: grilled meat, rice, and selections from side dishes are rolled up in a lettuce leaf and eaten burrito-style.

At the San Francisco restaurants, lettuce is served with barbecue year-round, allowing you to combine a culinary adventure with a discreet revival of two of childhood's ancient pleasures: playing with fire, and eating with your hands.

WHAT HAPPENS AT THE TABLE

If you want to do your own cooking (you can also order the same food prepared by the kitchen), be sure to sit at a table equipped for barbecue; look for a metal ventilator hood overhead. Your grill unit, which may flip up when a panel is removed from the tabletop, requires an efficient smoke draft.

You can order marinated thinly sliced beef, butterflied short ribs, pork, or chicken, and sometimes trip, shellfish, or fish. (The basic marinade, which lacks the sweetness of Japanese teriyaki, consists of sesame oil, garlic, and soy.) You might have the server begin the cooking at the table, then handle it yourself. You'll be given shears to clip off convenient portions as the meat seems done.

Placed on the table with the meat are all the dishes you'll consumer in the course of the meal: rice, a garlicky soup, and 8 to 12 side dishes, which you can add to flavor your meat-and-lettuce morsels, or eat separately on the side. These might consist of bean paste (given unexpected fire by chopped raw garlic, green onion, and red pepper); kimchi (fermented cabbage with garlic, chili, and ginger); pickled or fermented daikon radish; zucchini shreds; sesame-oiled mung bean sprouts; deep-fried potatio cubes; tiny, anchovy-like preserved fish; almond gelatin; a mild cucumber salad; sea algae; fish cake; radish slaw--the list seems endlessly variable. The basic flavors are salty, hot, sour, bitter, and sweet; but taste first before you overwhelm foods with addictives.

Your meal will be accompanied by a clean-tasting toasted-rice tea. You can also get beer (OB is a good Korean lager) and wine (but don't expect fine vintages: it's the red or the white). The check often comes accompanies by sticks of Heart Juicy gum.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Korean barbecue restaurants in San Francisco, California; includes directory of Richmond district restaurants
Author:Williamson, Marcia
Publication:Sunset
Date:Apr 1, 1992
Words:622
Previous Article:Teddy bears of the ocean ... on a comeback.
Next Article:San Mateo County wildflowers.
Topics:


Related Articles
NINE PROPERTIES ARE SPARKLING ADDITIONS TO AAA FIVE DIAMOND LIST
WESTERN TRANSMEDIA ENTERS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, ELECTS PAULETTE GRAFMAN EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR
Restaurant Teams International, Inc. Signs Definitive Agreements to Purchase Old San Francisco Steak House Chain.
Koo Koo Roo Opens San Francisco Restaurant.
Koo Koo Roo Supports UCSF/Stanford Pediatric Health Care Facility; Koo Koo Roo Reports Successful Grand Opening in San Francisco.
Grill Concepts' Daily Grill Restaurant to Enter San Francisco Area; - Opening to Mark Debut in Birthplace City of Traditional American Grills -.
Grill Concepts' Daily Grill Restaurant Starts Cooking In the San Francisco Metropolitan Market.
DINING OUT : A BIT OF KOREA IN VAN NUYS THIS TINY CAFE SERVES SPICY, HOMEY FARE.
DINING OUT : A BIT OF KOREA IN VAN NUYS THIS TINY CAFE SERVES SPICY, HOMEY FARE.
Secrets of the Outer Richmond; a quiet San Francisco neighborhood beguiles with good food and great views.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters