I've had a craving for bibimbap lately, and found myself over near Bradshaw and Folsom Blvd. at lunchtime today. Vaguely recalling that Oz had gotten some good press here, I popped in for a quick solo lunch.
The place is fairly nice inside. Not deluxe, but well-done. Somebody put a fair amount of thought and effort into designing and decorating the place. But the restaurant was VERY loud, even though it way less than half full. I imagine that it's absolutely deafening when crowded. (Speaking of the people there, I didn't see a single Korean face the entire time - should have been a warning sign.)
The lunch menu is very abbreviated, and the emphasis is clearly on the grill-your-own stuff, but bibimbap was on there, so I ordered it. The waiter (a young white guy) looked at me with a glazed expression, but was eventually able to figure it out when I pointed to the menu.
That glazed look really set the bar for the service. I'd finished my soft drink by the time the dish arrived, and began to ask for a refill as the server set it down. He apparently didn't hear me (not implausible given the ambient noise), didn't notice the empty glass, and certainly didn't ask if I needed anything else; in fact, he walked away as I was speaking to him. During the course of the meal he never checked in to see if the food was okay, and it took an effort on my part to flag him down and get a fresh drink, since he actively avoided eye contact whenever walking by my table. When I finished, I went to the register, where I had to interrupt his conversation with another employee to pay the bill.
Speaking of the bill - this sure isn't a place for a cheap lunch. It was $15 before tip for bibimbap and a coke. Nothing else.
The nothing else is what really got me. Where are the banchan? I would have asked my server, but wasn't sure he would have known what i was talking about. I looked around at the other tables, and they didn't have banchan either. What's up with that? Where's my damn kimchee?
Anyway, the bibimbap itself was pretty terrible. The seaweed scattered over the top was rubbery, the shredded carrot and daikon - which I think were supposed to be quick-pickled - had no discernible vinegar flavor, the spinach and mushrooms were unremarkable, and the alleged "sliced grilled ribeye" beef was under-seasoned matchstick-cut pieces of gristly beef of indeterminate origin that appeared to have been steamed. The chili sauce served on the side was okay, if a little sweeter and milder than I'm used to.
Anyway, my take on it is that Oz is to Korean food as Mikuni is to sushi. It might be a good place to go for all-you-can-eat bulgoki, but I don't see myself returning. Can anybody tell me where the Koreans eat? Please?