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Restaurants & Bars 2

Mugu Boka - So-so Korean in the Inner Richmond (longish)

Adam R. Paul | Jul 27, 200508:06 PM

Mugu Boka
401 Balboa (@ 5th)

Mediocre Korean fare, located much too near the excellent Brother's to merit a return visit. Sarah & I lunched here when driving around Balboa looking for food. The interior is bright and clean, with some nice nature photographs on the wall. We were seated and given menus promptly and cheerfully.

Sarah ordered the chicken and tofu soup combo lunch and I had a marinated eel and tofu soup combo. The usual assortment of side dishes arrived, and most were good. The soy(?) beans were a little stale, though, and the seasoned, dried seaweed wasn't to Sarah's liking at all, but I liked it. The kimchee cabbage was a little vinegary, but the kimchee daikon was good and crunchy. Gelatin isn't one of my favorite Korean side dishes, and this example is why - almost completely without flavor.

Our meat dishes came out of the kitchen quickly, arriving on oblong plates with huge piles of rice on the side. My eel had an ok BBQ sauce, but was only barely warm in a few places. Sarah liked her chicken, and ate it all up before I could sneak a bite.

Things went very downhill when our soft tofu hot pot soups arrived. They came piping hot as is usual, but were not served with an egg as they often are, and when Sarah asked for one the waitress gave her a funny look, then fetched one. Both soups were supposedly spicy according to the menu (and a good, spicy kimchee tofu hot pot is one of my favorite Korean dishes), and had a reddish hue to them. So where was the heat? And the flavor? Anything, salt, MSG, whatever, would have been very beneficial here, but sadly, none was to be had, and we were left with one of the blandest soups I've had in my entire life! I'm not sure how they did it - normally a soup comprised of broth, tofu, beef, assorted vegetables, and redness would have at least some flavor, one would think!

Service was pleasant throughout, and our bill came to $22 before tip. They had a "Grand Opening" sign up, so I assume (perhaps wrongly) that they're new. Given their proximity to Brother's (and one other Korean BBQ house that I haven't yet been to), I do not predict a long and prosperous life for Mugu Boka.

What do you all like for Korean in/near the Richmond (not necessarily just BBQ - I haven't met a Korean dish I didn't like so far!)? I love Brother's for their BBQ, but they're not inexpensive, are often crowded, and I have to dress in disposable clothing :) My Tofu House on Geary had pretty good spicy soup on my one visit. I haven't been to any of the several others.


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