Muguboka Korean BBQ restaurant is in my hood (the Inner Richmond) and I've walked by it many times without trying it out. Last week, Jane, Hungry Bear and I finally went in and had a late lunch there.
When we entered the restaurant, the first thing we noticed was the absence of wood charcoal pits. Korean BBQ tastes better when prepared on charcoal but you also end up smelling like it when you leave. Muguboka is a small, low-key place with about ten tables. Most patrons had their food prepared in the kitchen but I did see a group of people grilling with portable gas burners at their table.
Anytime we try a new Korean BBQ place, we always have to get...
- Dol Sot Bi Bim Bap
- Bul Go Gi
- Jap Chae
to compare and contrast the quality of the food. The lunch prices were reasonable at $8 - $9 per dish. Jane and I got the lunch specials that came with rice and a bowl of spicy tofu soup, which cost an additional $2.
Although it was hard to understand our waitress, she was very friendly and the service was very good. Our food came out promptly after we ordered and we quickly had feast of Korean food and banchan (side dishes) in front of us. We were also presented with a complimentary hae mul pa jun (seafood pancake).
We had seven banchans of kimchi, tofu kimchi, bean sprouts, radish kimchi, broccoli, salted anchovies and pickled seaweed. The banchans were adequate but fewer in number than at other Korean places. The only side dish that stood out was the pickled seaweed, which we had never had before and was good.
The dol sot bi bim bap was just ok. It wasn't very flavorful and didn't have enough meat or vegetables on top. The bul go gi was overcooked, dry and was insufficiently marinated. The seafood pancake suffered from the same lack of flavor issue, but it was complimentary... so no complaints.
We did enjoy the kalbi, spicy tofu soup and jap chae. Each dish was tasty and well seasoned. The spicy tofu soup and jap chae were definitely the best two items we had. The total bill was reasonable and came out to $18 per person including tax and tip.
Overall, Muguboka is not as good as our favorite Korean place in the Bay Area, Koryo in Oakland. It's also a step down from Brother's, another Korean BBQ restaurant in the Inner Richmond. However, given the close proximity, friendly service (which I found to be rare), reasonable prices and the smoke-free environment, we will definitely go back.
There are a lot of times when we want Korean food but pass, because we don't want to smell like Korean food afterwards. Muguboka offers a friendly, low-key setting for decent Korean food and the ability to walk out smelling like the way you walked in.
Location & Hours:
401 Balboa St (at 5th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94118
Monday - Saturday 11:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Sunday 4:00 PM - 11:00 PM
If Korean food is foreign to you, check out this Korean food primer.
[tags]korean, bbq, inner richmond, banchan, kalbi, kimchi, spicy tofu, jap chae[/tags]