Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Food Porn: Brother's (and Brother's II) Korean Barbecue

Posted By on Tue, Apr 29, 2008 at 9:06 AM

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Korean barbecue is a many splendored thing -- there's a lot to see and taste during any given meal -- and while much has been made about the lack of really great Korean BBQ in San Francisco (as opposed to our neighbors across the bay and beyond), there are a handful very good places to get your grill on -- most of them concentrated in the Richmond District. Perhaps the most popular of these are the duo known as Brother's Restaurant (4128 Geary) and Brother's Restaurant II (4014 Geary).

Aside from the food itself, there are two primary perks of the Brothers restaurants: First, they're open until 2:00 a.m., an ungodly and almost unheard of hour to be serving food in San Francisco -- perfect for bartime noshing. Second: unlike many Korean BBQ places who've upgraded to in-table gas grills, the Brother's franchise still do it the old-fashioned way with genuine red-hot coals. Dangerous and tasty! So without further ado, let the food porn begin ...

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Having a bed of hot coals pass over the table and inches from your face really satisfies that primal urge for fire and danger, especially in a day and age when -- let's face it -- there isn't a hell of a lot of ritual or spectacle involved with eating out.

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The thinly-sliced, marinated beef rib known as kalbi -- a staple of Korean cuisine -- hits the grill.

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In the foreground my personal favorite from the Korean BBQ armory: spicy marinated pork (dweji bulgogi).

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As you might have guessed by now, Korean food tends to pack some serious heat, and the nakji pokkum, spicy stir fried octopus, is no exception.

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But there is also a softer, gentler side to Korean cuisine. For instance, nobody does silken tofu better. Take this sundubu jjigae, a traditional soup of super soft tofu, clams, mushrooms, zucchini, onions, scallions and a big dose of chili.

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Along with the ever-present kimchi, this is one of the dozen or so panchan side dishes that make Korean food such a multifaceted event. This is a rice flour gelatin type-thing topped with traditional sauce of soy, rice vinegar and scallions.

-- Brian Bernbaum

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Brian Bernbaum

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