perks for your palate.
How to feast well on Korean fare for $25 or less
Bring your posse out to dinner at Jong Ga House
Don’t let the unassuming storefront of this Downtown Oakland gem fool you—within its walls you’ll find some of the city’s tastiest deals on top-notch Korean food. The menu here is definitely designed for group dining, with house specials on shareable items like ssam bab, your choice of pork belly, spicy calamari, bulgogi pork, or spicy octopus with rice, assorted vegetables, and soup; and shabu shabu, with beef, mushroom, or seafood, for a mere $20.99 per person, as long as you’re there with at least one fellow friend. If you’re dining with a group of particularly hungry compatriots who are willing to shell out a whole dollar more each, opt for the $21.99 per person all-you-can-eat BBQ special, where you get to choose from a selection of over 20 different meat, seafood, and veggie options to throw on your personal grill—not to mention the awesome spread of little accent plates that come with this extravaganza.
CoCo Bang has your wee-hours cravings covered
Savvy weekend revelers in need of a late-night snack know to hit up this popular spot, which you’ll find open until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Plenty of delicious options abound, but if you’re feasting with a group of friends, ordering the whole fried chicken is definitely the move. This classic will run you a modest $14.95—and for $16.95 you can choose a different seasoning and sauce style (hot and tangy; sweet; with green onions) for each half.
Ohgane—a go-to for lunch in Oakland
Fans of Korean fare will find plenty of things to love on the menu at this popular Oakland eatery. Fried chicken, galbee (traditional marinated short ribs), bibimbap, BBQ—you name it, they’ve got it. Fans of Korean food and a good value also know that the time to make your way here is weekdays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. for their $12.95 per person lunch buffet.
When it’s time to dig in, it’s Gogi Time
Take a quick look at the menu and it’s immediately abundantly clear that the folks behind this East Bay Korean BBQ spot can not, will not, do not let you leave hungry. Abundance is the key word here, and $24.95 will give you ample choice from a wide assortment of meats, seafood, and veggies for your grill. You’ll also get, and we quote, “as many appetizers, small dishes, stews, and wraps to complement your meal.” That’s right, as many as you (and your stretch pants) can handle.
Manna offers heavenly home-style plates at lighter-than-air prices
This Inner Sunset spot is an absolute must for hungry bargain hunters. Specializing in home-style Korean fare, the family-run restaurant offers a host of classic dishes like vegetable bibimbap and kanpoongki—sweet-spicy deep-fried chicken wings. With prices for most dishes topping out at around $10, it’s the kind of place you can go to with a group of friends, make sure everyone orders something different, and revel in the shared feast.
At Namu Gaji, make a break with tradition without breaking the bank
If you’re looking for a slightly less-traditional, more fusion-leaning Korean option, you have to check out this sleek spot on the corner of Dolores Park. Chef-owner Dennis Lee made a name for himself with his dynamite “real” Korean tacos (which, at $3 to $5.50 each, are a steal during happy hour), but there are plenty of other tasty options to be enjoyed here, with most plates running you less than $20. Case in point: the okonomiyaki, a giant kimchi crisp, savory pancake dressed with bonito and kewpie mayo, some to-die-for shiitake dumplings, and the clever take on Buffalo wings that marries Sichuan peppers with creamy blue cheese.
Don’t let the name fool you—HRD Coffee Shop serves some serious Korean burritos
The motto at this no-frills spot is “go HRD or go home,” though it could just as easily be “go HRD and you won’t go home hungry.” Can’t-miss item here include the massive mission-style Korean Fusion burritos, which are filled with spicy rice, cucumbers, kiwi, daikon, sour cream, and your choice of bulgogi beef, spicy pork, chicken, or tofu. The kicker? These bomb burritos are all under $10, which means you can tack on a rice bowl or a couple of tacos and still eat on the cheap—if you still have room.