Do you ever get excited when you look at raw beef? Does the anticipation build up inside of you when you think about how good it’s going to taste after it’s grilled perfectly and you take your first bite? That’s exactly how I felt when the tray of kalbi arrived at our table at Ohgane Korean BBQ Restaurant in Oakland. And the feelings only grew as the server trimmed the meat from the bone, leaving behind beautiful thick ribbons of marbled marinated rib meat that we couldn’t wait to throw on the grill.
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I’m more accustomed to the cross-cut, LA style of kalbi, so Ohgane’s presentation was a change of pace for me and it’s a much more satisfying way to enjoy kalbi. I think you get much larger pieces of meat, and if you like to eat the gristle off the bones, you can throw those on the grill, too, and gnaw on them after all the meat is gone.
I’m perfectly content ordering just the kalbi here, but there’s a lot of other good meat choices on the menu, including daeji bulgogi (spicy marinated pork), special BBQ sam gyup sal gu e (pork belly), Juk suck seng go gi dol pan gu e (beef cubes cooked on a hot stone).
I got my first taste of soon dae (blood sausage with vermicelli noodle) at Ohgane, and it’s become a regular order when we can find it. The pajun (seafood pancake) is one of the best I’ve had because there’s just the right ratio of batter and filling. Banchan selection is is pretty extensive, too.
In general, the quality of the meat at Ohgane is good, but it really pales in comparison to what you can get down in L.A.’s Koreatown. My Korean friends tend to lament the lack of really good Korean food up in the SF Bay Area, and I should really check out more of the spots in Sunnyvale and Santa Clara since the South Bay seems to reign for good Korean. In the East Bay, Ohgane is definitely one of the shining stars.