By Omar Mamoon
By Kate Williams
By Pete Kane
By Molly Gore
By Lou Bustamante
By Anna Roth
For beverages, you have your choice of beer, or saki, or Korean tea made with roasted rice husks. And when you're done, here's your bill, and out you go -- Koreans don't linger after dinner.
A few nights later we moved on to Brother's Restaurant, which I always think of as "Seoul Brother's Barbecue" since that's its specialty. It too serves guests a 12-chop panchan. The kimchees (cabbage, sweet turnip) are store-bought but good. Better yet were pickled green kelp, firm and satiny in sesame oil, crunchy dried anchovies in hot sauce, crisp pickled cucumber strewn with sesame seeds and coarse salt, and puffs of flash-fried zucchini melting inside a golden batter. Most items ran saltier than their Korea House counterparts.
At Brother's, you don't get to cook on your charcoal grill unless you order doubles of one item. We split our pair, so the kitchen ably did our grilling. Our fat kingfish ($13) emerged with moist flesh and crisp, salty skin. Kalbi ($13), accordion-cut marinated short ribs, were crisp-edged, smoky, salty, and touched with sweetness, and came with lettuce for wrapping. The dish here that inspired our "I could live on this" sighs was pa-jun ($11). Described on the menu as "pan-fried peper and green onion with beef," it's a huge rice-batter pancake stuffed with scallions, bits of meat, and flecks of hot, uh, peper. The exterior had the airy brittleness of tempura, while the inside was custardy and savory-sweet.
San Francisco, CA 94118
Region: Richmond (Inner)
While Koreans don't do dessert, at Brother's your meal ends with a chilled drink of a few grains of rice in a sugar syrup, lent an odd earthiness by roast barley powder. After all the powerhouse flavors, it's a perfect exotic sweet ending.
Korea House/New Korea House
1620 and 1640 Post (at Webster), 563-1388/931-7834. Open Sunday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., weekends to midnight. Reservations not accepted. New Korea House is wheelchair accessible, Korea House is not. Parking: street parking near-impossible; Peace Plaza garage across the street. Muni: 2, 3, 4, 38. Sound level: moderate.
4128 Geary (at Sixth Avenue), 387-7991. Open daily 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Reservations not accepted. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: street parking fairly difficult but possible. Muni: 2, 4, 38, 44. Sound level: a little loud.