Is that bulgogi in your burrito?
UPDATE (4/7/08): Don Day has reopened under new management. The interiors still look the same but the menu is now traditional Korean cuisine. No burritos!
UPDATE (3/03/08): This tiny restaurant closed in late 2007 and a sign says a new owner will take over. No word if they will continue with the Korean burritos.
Where I work in the Oakland-Lake Merritt area, there’s not a lot of lunch options, which is why I typically pack my own lunch and eat at my desk. But when the weather is so beautiful, like it was today, I had to step out and enjoy the sun—and hunt for some quick lunch.
That’s when I saw this sign for Korean burritos. It was outside the Don Day Korean restaurant at the corner of 14th and Webster Streets on the way to Oakland’s Chinatown.
Oakland has a very prominent Korean community, and I’ve noticed more and more Korean restaurants opening near Chinatown. Don Day is actually a place I’ve eaten before awhile back, when it was just a regular Korean barbeque joint. But in the last year, I’ve noticed that it’s gotten a new look, with new signs and a hipper, youthful appeal. It’s almost like the older Korean couple who was running the place recently retired and turned the business over to the kids.
Along with the new look, Don Day recently changed its offerings from the traditional Korean barbeque to a lunch-friendly burrito menu during the days. (You can still get the traditional barbeque dishes, with its accompanying soups and side dishes, for dinner. But only the burritos are sold during the weekday lunch.) Intrigued by the idea of a Korean burrito, I decided to check it out.
For now, Don Day offers six varieties of burritos for $4.99 (with the exception of the salmon teriyaki, which goes for $6.99). The choices include bulgogi, chicken bulgogi, spicy pork, spicy chicken, chicken teriyaki and the aforementioned salmon teriyaki.
You order at the counter (cash only) and then you can sit in the refurbished area to eat your burrito. Bulgogi is one of the more well-known Korean dishes, next to kim chee. It’s basically very thin beef marinated with soy sauce and sesame oil and has a sweet and spicy undertone. Because I didn’t want to load up on my red meat for the week, I stuck with the chicken bulgogi. I ordered my chicken bulgogi burrito, and then since it was a nice day, I took it to go and ate at a nearby park.
Here’s a shot of my chicken bulgogi burrito. It looked like any other burrito, and it’s pretty huge for $4.99.
You can’t get a real idea of the burrito unless you look inside. So here’s a shot of my Korean burrito after I took a few bites. It had the basic ingredients of a burrito: the tortilla wrap, naturally, and lettuce, some tomatoes, bean paste and meat. Overall, it tasted like a chicken burrito. There was just a very subtle sweet and tangy Korean taste that was in the sauce.
What really made my chicken burrito turn Korean was the side sauce that came with it. I’m assuming this is the bulgogi dipping sauce, which traditionally is very spicy. This sauce was just that. It was thick like hot sauce and had the underlying spicy Korean taste like what’s found in kim chee. It really made my burrito taste like a Korean burrito. But if you get this, I recommend that you just drizzle a little bit of the spicy sauce with every few bites.
Overall, it was a filling and interesting lunch at the park with my Korean burrito from Don Day. I can’t say it was necessarily anything that tasted revolutionary, but it’s a nice option to have for a quick lunch and definitely broadens my choices for the work week.
Since this is a mini review, I’m not giving it a rating. Don Day is located at 346 14th St. at Webster in Oakland. PH: 510.444.7755.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Is that bulgogi in your burrito?