Beaming smiles and meaty panache in Oakland
REVIEW Sahn Maru may be the most cheerful restaurant in the East Bay. Its bright, sunny lighting falls on interesting pieces of art, arrangements of flowers, and happy patrons. Likewise, the beaming smiles of the staff fall on everyone who walks through the door, even the first-timers. When I visited, there were three people in our party, so we decided to try dinner combo A ($39.95; recommended for two), supplemented with our usual dol sot bi bim bab ($10.95 for beef, veggies, and egg over rice in a sizzling pot; $8.95 without the sizzle). We needn't have worried about having enough food: the combo's bul ko ki (barbecued beef), dark gui (barbecued chicken), jap chae (panfried noodles), na mul (Korean seasoned vegetables), and soft tofu chi gae (bean-cake casserole soup with zucchini) would have been enough for three (although we polished off everything anyway). One member of our party, a Korean Australian, declared the soup the best thing he'd ever had at a Korean restaurant. I was particularly pleased to see so many vegetables included in the dinner combos, not just in the chi gae and na mul but also in the jap chae, which was heavier on the greens than are many such dishes. And our waiter was charming identifying all of the barbecued meat supplements with panache, always appearing exactly when we needed him, and making us feel welcome and glad to be there. When we left, he and another staffer invited us to come back soon. It will be our pleasure.
SAHN MARU KOREAN BBQ Daily, 11 a.m.10:30 p.m. 4315 Telegraph, Oakl. (510) 653-3366