Jonathan Kauffman's Tips for Venturing Beyond Korean Snack Food

Categories: Ask the Critic
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Lunch at Han Il Kwan.
You have questions about restaurants, dining, food, drinks that you can't figure out or are too shy to ask? I have answers ― or know people who do.

Under the SFoodie teaser to this week's review of Korean snack food joints around San Francisco, Urbanstomach asks:
I'm loving the trend right now but wonder how long until my taste buds get tired. Is there a 2nd wave of Korean flavors that haven't been put out to the Bay Area food culture yet?
Namu ― the restaurant, not the market stand ― might be a good place to start. Dennis Lee's mother owns a Korean restaurant, so his food's a giant mashup between Western bistro food and traditional Korean cuisine, referencing a wide range of ingredients and dishes. You should also make a practice of going to Korean restaurants and avoiding the barbecue menu. I haven't spent enough time trolling the Richmond since I've been back in town to offer a ton of specific suggestions yet, but Han Il Kwan has a good selection of less-familiar pancakes and stews, as well as broiled, salted mackerel (when done right, it's exquisitely buttery); in addition, the Chowhounders seem to love Muguboka, To Hyang, and Dong Baek.

Most of my favorite places on Telegraph in Oakland from my East Bay Express reviewing days are still open, including Sahn Maru for black goat stew with mustard, wild sesame, and chrysanthemum greens and Seoul Gom Tang for beef soup, dumplings, and cold noodles.

Or you could wander through the aisles at the Woo Ri Market on Fillmore and O'Farrell, then fill a plastic bag with pickles, fritters, side dishes, and sweets from the counter they cook all the food in back and change the lineup every day. And if you're interested in reading more about Korean cuisine, Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee and Hisoo Shin Hepinstall both have written excellent cookbooks. One last note: More than 20 years after screwing up my nose and sticking that piece of cabbage kimchi into my mouth, and I'm still not tired of it.

E-mail your questions to Jonathan.Kauffman@SFWeekly.com. Oh, and follow me on Twitter: @JonKauffman

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