Northside SF  

October '09

Penny Pincher:
Arang Korean Cuisine

By Susan Dyer Reynolds

1506 Fillmore Street (at O’Farrell), San Francisco, 415-775-9095

BiBimBopTucked away in the parking lot of the Western Addition Safeway, Arang is a tiny gem of a place to fill up on bargain-priced Korean classics such as kim chee (seasoned pickled vegetables, the most common being baechu, made with cabbage) and bi bim bap (a rice dish topped with vegetables and seafood or meat). Arang also has a great lunch box (Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) – my favorite is the combination with teriyaki chicken or barbecued beef, tempura, rice, vermicelli noodles, pot stickers, salad, and miso soup, all for $7.95. For just $6.50, the tempura-only lunch box comes with two plump shrimp and eight vegetable pieces in a light, crisp batter. I also like the “dolsot” (stone pot) bi bim bap – white rice with barbecued beef and blanched vegetables including spinach, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, red cabbage, burdock (also known as “gobo,” a delicately flavored white root vegetable), and soybean sprouts, all topped with a sunny-side-up egg and served with a squeeze bottle of gochujang, a red sweet-spicy chili pepper paste affectionately known as “Korean ketchup.” The molten-hot stone bowl not only keeps the food warm, the rice continues to cook at the bottom (which is seasoned with a bit of sesame oil to prevent sticking), rendering it golden brown with a nutty taste and chewy crunch. The crispy caramelized rice is called “nurungi” and it is so good you can find it sold as a snack in Korean markets. Bi bim bap can also be served vegetarian or vegan, and besides being satisfying and delicious, it’s also incredibly healthful. The dolsot bi bim bap is served with miso soup and traditional banchan (side dishes) including baechu kim chee, pickled radish, egg omelet with green onion, and fish cake (lunch: beef $6.50/seafood $7.50; dinner: $8.95/$9.95). While I usually go for the lunch specials, Arang is also perfect for night owls – they serve food until 2 a.m. seven nights a week (and the free and easy parking lot is an added bonus in San Francisco).

– S. Reynolds

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