My mother-in-law wanted to celebrate her birthday by having dinner at a Korean BBQ joint. I'd suggested Woo Lae Oak (as recommended on Chowhound) but in the end we found ourselves at the funky facaded Don's Bogam who's windows remind me of the geometric characters of the Korean language.
The space itself is divided into roughly four spaces, the wine bar up front, the limited dining area at ground level, the raised "main" dining area where we ate, and the kitchen in the rear. The seating was remarkably uncomfortable and could be, for some, impossible to get in and out of the chairs with its sunken legspace.
Service was fairly swift and before we knew it, we'd been served a wide selection of appetizers, or probably more accurately named, amuses.
There was kimchee (nice heat and crunch...standard), spicy pickles (nice heat again), crunchy and very spicy whitebait(?), pickled green radish (very different, cross between cucumber, pear and apple-like flavors...but pickled), seaweed salad, a slaw of some kind made with corn, peas and carrots, and some other stuff.
For our ordered appetizers, we had something I think was called Hae Mool Pajun, which was a scallion pancake...very green in color and slightly bland and texturally awkward (kind of slimy and floppy, passable - but not even close to being great), and an order each of steamed and fried dumplings, neither of which were memorable. In fact, they weren't very good at all. They make the dumplings at Rickshaw Dumpling Bar look like the gold standard of the dumpling world.
For my entree, I ordered the Bibimbop with spicy tuna. The tuna, which was very spicy, was fire engine red upon service. A heavy mixing of the bbq sauce they provide and the heat coming off of the stoneware quickly cooked the fish. I let the rice (which is on the bottom of the dish) sit for a little bit to get a little crunchy which helped make the dish work. Then I mixed it up and enjoyed the salmagundi of ingrediants. Danna ordered the short ribs version of this, as did my brother in law. His girlfriend I think ordered the traditional beef version and my father-in-law the same. All of which were pretty good but not earth shaking.
The birthday girl went for the cook-your-own BBQ beef...which in the end was mostly prepared by an employee of the restaurant (not just at our table either) on an electric, not coal fired, table stove. The beef was reasonably tasty and only one piece was slightly too fatty to enjoy.
Service was friendly, but slightly harried and not necessarily helpful in describing dishes. The wine we had, I simply don't remember the name of it, was awful. It opened up a little bit as the night went on but oof...no good.
Overall the experience was fun and has encouraged me to try Korean a little more often but it didn't wow some of us, and understandably so. I'm excited to try some new places (recommendations are welcome) in the near future but probably won't go back to this place.
Pics are on the site below.
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