Category Archives: Korean

Koja Kitchen

 In between juggling schoolwork and having a blast in my final semester in college, I decided to take a break from my food blogging activities. Blogging may have been on a hiatus but the food explorations did not! A mere five minute walk from my apartment can take me to restaurant-flanked Telegraph Ave. In the last semester, many Berkeley students were excited about the opening of Koja Kitchen on this street.

Koja Kitchen which was initially a food truck that would often make appearances at the weekly Off the Grid. It was actually one of the few food trucks that I genuinely enjoyed and thought was decent worth for money. So you can imagine my friends and my joy when we found out that we no longer have to track the truck’s schedule and location for a bite of their juicy koja sandwiches.

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The first time I had the koja sandwich, I fell in love with the novelty of Korean fusion food and the rice buns (and enjoyed it more than ramen burgers). Most friends prefer the pork koja sandwich but my personal favourite is the chicken koja which was juicy, slightly spicy and sweet all in one.

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Unfortunately one koja sandwich will probably not fill you up so the kamikaze fries are a popular accompaniment to the sandwiches. They are basically french fries topped with beef bulgogi and sauce. I think they are alright but some people seem to love these fries.

I was quite surprised that I didn’t make more visits to Koja Kitchen throughout the semester. Perhaps the fact that it was no longer a commodity of limited availability didn’t make it seem all that hot to me anymore. However, I would recommend anyone in Berkeley who hasn’t had this before to  give it a shot!

Bowl’d

Many Friday nights ago, I decided to expand my dining options and explore the restaurants in Solano Avenue. With a huge craving for some Korean food, I found myself stepping through the doors of Bowl’d. This restaurant’s main specialty seems to be its bibimbap, which is a large rice bowl with tons of assorted vegetables, meat and a sunny side up egg to top it all off. Bowl’d breaks down the process of selecting the rice bowl into three steps:

First, you choose between a regular bowl or a sizzling bibimbap served in a hot stone bowl. Go for the hot stone bowl.

Secondly, your rice of choice — white or mixed grain rice. For this step, I highly recommend going for the mixed grain rice which has wild sweet rice, sweet brown rice, barley and wild red rice. If that doesn’t sound enticing enough, perhaps the superior health benefits of eating mixed grain rice will persuade you.

And finally, no bibimbap will be complete without your meat of choice (or tofu if you are vegetarian).

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I was also excited to see the Korean fish ice cream in the restaurant’s fridge close to the entrance. I have seen them in the telly or in friends’ pictures but never really knew what they were. They were priced at a dollar each, and the restaurant uses the honor system as customers are just expected to pay for the ice cream by putting the money in a glass jar by the fridge.

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It was alright — it had vanilla ice cream and red bean filling. Nothing much to rave about but the idea of eating a fish ice cream still excites me to this day.

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Meat Madness

Jong Ga House is officially my favourite Korean restaurant in the East Bay. Honestly, I have not been to that many Korean restaurants in the Bay Area but this is the most legit Korean restaurant I have been to. For my friend’s birthday, we went for their All You Can Eat BBQ and had unlimited chicken, beef and pork with banchan, soup and shike (Korean malt drink) as accompaniments to the main meal.

All You Can Eat Korean BBQ @ Jong Ga House, Oakland

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According to the waiter, most customers prefer pork and beef over chicken but the chicken was actually my favourite. The beef and pork were a little too tough and fatty for my liking but the chicken was just perfect for my lazy jaw. We definitely asked for too much meat in the last thirty minutes of dinner and by the end of the meal, I felt like I had eaten a month’s supply of meat. I actually ended up staying away from meat for about a week after that indulgent meal. Note to self: the purpose of an all-you-can-eat is to eat until I am satisfied, not to make the restaurant lose as much profit as possible.

Off the Grid: Southside Berkeley

This has been going on for quite some time already but I recently discovered that Off the Grid is now in Southside Berkeley every Thursday 5-9pm. Hip hip hooray for mobile food vendors selling delicious (and overpriced) food!

Off the Grid @ Telegraph Ave, Southside Berkeley 

There was a long line at the Koja Kitchen food truck so it was natural instinct to jump on the bandwagon and try to see what the craze is all about. Their Kamikaze Fries were really popular but I opted for the Chicken Koja Sandwich. I thought it was really interesting to have rice cake patties as buns and they work really well with the Korean barbecued chicken. I do not know how to emphasize how amazing the chicken is! So sweet and juicy that I am still fantasizing about it three days later.

This sandwich ended up being my appetizer because I realized I was still hungry after so I went down a block to Happy Valley restaurant for my main course. No picture here but the crispy spicy shrimp on the dinner specials menu is so good! It also came with sweet and cold tofu dessert after. Off the Grid + Happy Valley = Bliss