There are already enough Korean restaurants on Santa Clara’s stretch of El Camino to please any wagyu wonk. You’d think piling two cheap eateries on top of that smorgasbord might feel a little like sprinkling Hot Cheetos on your bibimbap. You’d be wrong (but your imaginative use of snack foods impresses us). BOB Korean BBQ and Paik’s Noodle Shop couldn’t be more different — one is a family-run passion project, the other an outpost of a Korean noodle chain — but we think both are worth a taste.
BOB Korean BBQ
Despite the “Grand Opening” sign, BOB Korean BBQ is still technically in their soft launch. They’re using compostable bowls until their clay pots arrive and the kitchen is still tinkering with recipes of Korean favorites — bulgogi, ganjang chicken, galbi (beef short-ribs) to name a few.
No grilling at your tables, BOB’s is a fast food approach to Korean BBQ where you order at the front and the food is brought to you. The dishes are reasonably priced (average around $11) and each comes with a chicken broth soup, salad, and a few traditional side dishes (banchan) of kimchi, cucumbers, and japchae (aka glass noodles).
Among the dishes we tried, our favorites were the galbi ($12.99) which had a nice char on the beef and left a residue of sweet grease on the white rice below, and the soon doobu or tofu stew ($9.99) which was satisfying on a cold, winter night but lacked more intense spices that we look forward to in that dish.
For the owner, Anthony Jung, BOB Korean BBQ is his first solo act as a restaurant owner. Anthony helped manage his aunt’s Korean restaurant in Gilroy for almost three years and before that, he worked in construction (Anthony did all the remodeling of BOB’s himself). As for the spice level in the soon doobu, he said not to worry, next time he’ll make it “crazy spicy.”
// 4320 Moorpark Ave, San Jose // 11:30AM–2PM, 5:30–9:30PM Monday — Friday. 11:30AM–9:30PM Saturday and Sunday //
The Paik’s Noodle restaurant chain might have started in South Korea, but don’t expect your typical smoky, open-flame BBQ spot with bulgogi and banchan (of which anyone in the 650 area code has an embarrassing number of great options, among our favorites Jang Su Jang and To Bang). Paik’s serves Korean Chinese food, a style that started in Korea from their increasing Chinese population and acts as a fusion of the two cultures.
The menu is limited with four dishes and we decided to go for both of the noodle choices — jjamppong ($6.99) a red, spicy soup with steamed vegetables, pork bits, and seafood and jajangmyeon ($6.99) which had black bean sauce and mushrooms throughout. The noodles in both dishes were so long, we had to ask for scissors to cut them.
The other two dishes that we didn’t try, but traditional to this style of Korean Chinese food were the fried pork, or tangsujook ($9.99), and the stir fried noodles with shrimp, squid, pork, and vegetables, or bokkeummyeon ($7.49).
Paik’s Noodle was started by Jong-Won Paik, a TV celebrity/chef in South Korea, and the Santa Clara location, which opened late November, is the first of it’s kind in the Bay Area. Paik himself owns over 26 different restaurant franchises around the world that are comprised of over 1,200 individual stores.
// 1520 Kiely Blvd, Santa Clara // Sunday — Thursday 11AM–9PM. Friday and Saturday 11AM–9:30PM //
A few more reasons why we’re coming back to these spots:
- The flavors at BOBs BBQ were impressive and that was on compostable plates. We have to imagine the quality will go up a couple notches when they bring out the stone bowls.
- Paik’s is about increase their menu by 25% and launch a fifth dish, beef and shrimp jjamppong, which from the pictures, looks .
- We love Korean food, but sometimes it can pricey. Both places filled us up and left money in our wallets. And we REALLY love that!