On our first foray into the world of Ohgane Korean BBQ Restaurant in Oakland, we had meat on our minds.
Beef, to be precise, or gal-traditional beef spare ribs marinated in soy and garlic, thinly sliced and seared on a built-in charcoal gas grill just inches from our noses.
Our excitement built when our waiter put 16 tiny white bowls on the table – the panchan, a mosaic of brightly colored cucumbers and spices in contrasting flavors and textures that emphasized the meat. There was of course kimchi as well as pickled daikon, crispy fried anchovies, tender pea tendrils, salted black beans and our favorite bean sprouts with chili.
Thinly sliced raw garlic and hot green peppers, fermented bean and chili paste and lettuce leaves also arrived – everyone was waiting for the star of the show.
Our grill mysteriously remained unlit. We were thinking about it when a sizzling griddle landed in the center of the action. On it was our beef, already cooked. Say what?
It turns out that it takes two meat orders at one table to get the grill going. Good to know. Unfortunately neither the menu nor our server mentioned it and it was important. The meat grilled in the kitchen was overdone and dry; It lacked the juiciness with which one can try the marinade and the char.
The second time we got it right and ordered the spare ribs ($ 24.95) and the spicy pork ($ 20.95). The grill was lit with a satisfying wash, and we moved a seat away from it as the heat began to radiate. You can cook the meat yourself with small tongs or have it cooked by your server.
The results were juicy and juicy. We wrapped the meat in the salad with bean paste and cucumber – and suddenly understood why Ohgane is one of the most popular Korean barbecue spots in Oakland. Ohgane is on Broadway (there is also an office in Dublin) and has its own car park. However, it’s just outside of Oakland’s main Korean food strip on Telegraph Avenue.
You’re probably sitting in Ohgane’s large box-like back room, where all the tables have grills, but the charm is lacking. The front room is cozier. Service may vary. One night when the dining room was slow but there was a private party of 40 people upstairs, we rang the call button on the table in vain. In other cases the staff were more efficient, although information about the courts could be difficult.
Aside from the grill, Ohgane has a long menu – and a buffet lunch, which we didn’t try, but which is probably a great way to explore the cuisine.
We just got immersed. Aside from grilling, the highlight is bibimbap ($ 7.95), a large bowl of rice with beef, an egg, and half a dozen vegetables of various colors and textures. Served with the panchan, it’s a steal at lunchtime.
Curious about duk, the soft Korean rice cake traditionally kept for special occasions, we ordered it in a tangy red sauce, “duck boki” ($ 9.95) on the menu (usually called duk boki). Duk is all about texture – it’s dense and tough like mochi. I liked that but thought the sauce needed more seasoning to get it going.
We also tried sauteed squid ($ 18.95) in a very similar flavorful red sauce. It was tender and serviceable, but nothing special.
Appetizers like hae mui pa jun, a large spring onion pancake stuffed with shrimp ($ 11.95), and the fried meat and vegetable dumplings ($ 7.95 for eight) are nicely browned and distracted until our meats arrived .
Beer looked like the most popular drink to wash everything off with, but we brought a rustic Italian red (cork is $ 10). Ohgane also offers some popular inexpensive wines by the glass, as well as soju and sake cocktails.
But Ohgane is really all about the meat. Using the grill can get expensive for two people if you want to try something different. But it’s a lot of meat and it’s delicious so bring your friends.
Ohgane Korean BBQ Restaurant
3915 Broadway (near 40th Street), Oakland; (510) 594-8300 or ohganebbq.com.
Lunch and dinner daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wine, beer, soju and sake. Reservations and credit cards are accepted. Free parking space.
|A total of||Rating: TWO STARS||the atmosphere||Rating: ONE AND HALF STARS|
|eat||Rating: TWO STARS||Prices||$$$|
|service||Rating: ONE AND HALF STARS||Noise assessment||Noise rating: TWO BELLS|
FOUR STARS = Extraordinary; THREE STARS = Excellent; TWO STARS = good; ONE STAR = fair; NO STARS = bad
$ = Inexpensive: starters $ 10 and under; $$ = Medium: $ 11- $ 17; $$$ = Expensive: $ 18- $ 24; $$$$ = Very expensive: more than $ 25
ONE BELL = pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); TWO BELLS = Can speak easily (65-70); THREE BELLS = Usually speaking becomes difficult (70-75); FOUR BELLS = Can only speak with raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too loud for normal conversation (80+)
The prices are based on main courses. When appetizers fall between these categories, appetizer prices will help determine dollar ratings. Chronicle critics make every attempt to remain anonymous. All meals are paid for by The Chronicle. The star rating is based on at least three visits. The ratings are continuously updated based on at least one return visit.
Reviewers: Michael Bauer (MB), Tara Duggan (TD), Mandy Erickson (ME), Amanda Gold (AG), Miriam Morgan (MM), Carol Ness (CN), Karola Saekel (KMS) and Carey Sweet (CS)