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Banchan at Pyeong Chang Tofu
Banchan at Pyeong Chang Tofu
Noah Cho

10 Fantastic Korean Restaurants in the East Bay

Where to scratch that gochujang itch

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Banchan at Pyeong Chang Tofu
| Noah Cho

Unless you’re lucky enough to live in close proximity to Santa Clara, coming across truly amazing Korean food is something of a quest in the Bay Area. Luckily for those of us in the East Bay, there are just enough gems out there to fulfill all of our cravings. While it’s going to be a long time before any of us get back into a full-service Korean barbecue restaurant, it’s worth checking out these places for some options that scratch your gochujang-ready itch.

While a lot of Korean food doesn’t necessarily travel well or work for takeout — for example, the cold-broth noodle dish, naengmyeon, is better off prepared on your own at home due to the various starches involved — these 10 East Bay spots sell a variety of reliably good Korean dishes that hold up well to takeout and delivery.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Gangnam Tofu Korean Cuisine

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11740 San Pablo Ave c
El Cerrito, CA 94530
(510) 778-1144

Exceptionally reliable with an extra spicy soondubu that’s actually extra spicy, this is probably the best Korean option north of Berkeley. You can find other stalwart menu items here, but you’ll want to stick to either the soondubu or their Korean fried chicken items, especially the ones coated in the restaurant’s sweet, savory, and gently spicy Gangnam chicken sauce. Call in or order delivery via Uber Eats.

Fried chicken topped with “Gangnam sauce” Noah Cho

2. OB Chicken Town

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6101 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 595-5338
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While some of the draw of this local favorite near the Oakland-Berkeley border can’t be replicated — the giant pitchers of Hite with a huge group of friends while K-Pop blares in the background — you can still get OB Chicken Town’s reliably good fried chicken to go. They are even still selling their buldak with cheese, which if you can get to it quick enough after ordering still has that alluring stretchiness. You can also get pub food classics like jokbal, which is marinated pork hock, to go. Call in or place your order online.

3. Kitchen Story

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5422 College Ave
Oakland, CA 94618
(510) 922-9443
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While Kitchen Story leans far more into the “inspired” part of “Korean-inspired,” there are some interesting takes on Korean food here and it’s packaged to go quite well. Of particular interest is the Tornado Galbi Omurice, which is both visually and gustatorily stimulating. The demi on the egg is great and there are nice chunks of short rib embedded inside. If you’re craving a Korean-style brunch, their Korean Fried Chicken and Waffle Bites hit the spot between savory and sweet. Call in or order online, with delivery available via the third-party apps.

Tornado galbi omurice at Kitchen Story Noah Cho

4. Yuyu Za Zang

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4871 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 653-2288

It’s hard to go wrong with a takeout order of the black bean sauce noodle dish, jajangmyeon (here listed as za zan myeon) — probably the most commonly ordered delivery dish in Seoul. This is one of the best versions in the region, complete with fresh house-made noodles. Yuyu’s jampong, a spicy seafood noodle dish that is often paired with jajangmyeon, is great, too, as are their other Korean-Chinese staples like tang sue yuk. Avoid the Chinese takeout items in favor of the Korean-Chinese ones. Call in or use one of the third-party apps to get an order.

Yuyu’s jajangmyeon Noah Cho

5. Pyeong Chang Tofu House Oakland

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4701 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 658-9040
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You may have heard East Bay resident Samin Nosrat rave about Pyeong Chang’s kimchijeon in the New York Times Magazine — and those savory pancakes are indeed one of the best versions of the dish in the Bay Area. Pyeong Chang, though, also has some of the most satisfyingly rich soondubu in the area, and their daily rotation of house-made banchan always delights. The soondubu holds up well to takeout, but I’d pop the lid open on the pajeon if you pick it up so it retains its crispness. Both the Oakland and Berkeley locations are open for takeout, with both online ordering and app-based delivery available.

Kimchi pancakes packed for takeout Noah Cho

6. Seoul Gom Tang

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3801 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 597-9989
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One of those “always there when you need it” Korean places, Seoul Gomtang has a range of satisfying soups from the soupier -guk and -tang dishes to the richer -jigae stews. They do an excellent, restorative version of the pork and potato soup called gamjatang here, and they have a variety of rarer, more offal-based soups as well, if that’s something you’re interested in. Call in or order via DoorDash.

7. EM Deli Catering

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6119 La Salle Ave
Oakland, CA 94611
(510) 834-3651
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Tucked away on a sidestreet in sleepy Montclair village is a kimchi oasis. EM Deli used to be in downtown Oakland, but moved to Montclair a few years ago, and has been a welcome sight for locals. EM is best known for their excellent house-made kimchi, but their to-go dosirak — Korean lunch boxes — are excellent, and their banchan selection is varied and interesting. If you don’t see a favorite, the owners are happy to make sure it’s in stock the next time you visit. They also sell a good variety of staple items for a Korean pantry — a good option for customers who are too afraid to brave KP’s parking lot. Call in or walk in.

Selection of prepared foods at EM Deli Noah Cho

8. Tin & Pig - Kang Tong

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3702 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 658-2998
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For a broad selection of Korean classics, you’d be hard pressed to beat the variety and quality at Tin and Pig. You can get a big order of bossam (steamed pork belly and various veggies to wrap it with), which is something that is well-suited to take out as it doesn’t need to be piping hot to enjoy. You can also go to town on their chicken gizzard dishes and selections of jeongol, which is a Korean-style hot pot. Call in or order via DoorDash.

9. KP Asian Market

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471-499 24th St
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 986-1234
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Longtime East Bay folks still call this place Koreana Plaza, and though the supermarket has gone the direction of carrying more pan-Asian staples, the Korean items that make up the core of their business are still great, and their ready to go meals are perhaps even more essential now. Their deli area has to-go japchae, banchan, pre-marinated meats, and a selection of gimbap. You can also stock up on Shin ramyun with cheese while you’re there. Be warned: this is still one of the worst parking lots in all of Oakland.

10. Volcano Island

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2619 Oliver Dr
Hayward, CA 94545
(510) 786-9161

A hidden gem in Hayward, this tiny fried chicken shop seems to have been tailor-made for the takeout times we find ourselves in. This is some of the best, crispiest, and tastiest Korean fried chicken that you’ll find in the Bay Area, and they even sell a sublime fried crab dish. Chicken is available as either wings or boneless pieces, and both are fantastic. You can also get an order of hotteok, the famous Korean fried donuts, fresh out of the fryer. Call in or order via third-party apps.

Two varieties of Korean fried chicken Noah Cho

1. Gangnam Tofu Korean Cuisine

11740 San Pablo Ave c, El Cerrito, CA 94530
Fried chicken topped with “Gangnam sauce” Noah Cho

Exceptionally reliable with an extra spicy soondubu that’s actually extra spicy, this is probably the best Korean option north of Berkeley. You can find other stalwart menu items here, but you’ll want to stick to either the soondubu or their Korean fried chicken items, especially the ones coated in the restaurant’s sweet, savory, and gently spicy Gangnam chicken sauce. Call in or order delivery via Uber Eats.

11740 San Pablo Ave c
El Cerrito, CA 94530

2. OB Chicken Town

6101 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

While some of the draw of this local favorite near the Oakland-Berkeley border can’t be replicated — the giant pitchers of Hite with a huge group of friends while K-Pop blares in the background — you can still get OB Chicken Town’s reliably good fried chicken to go. They are even still selling their buldak with cheese, which if you can get to it quick enough after ordering still has that alluring stretchiness. You can also get pub food classics like jokbal, which is marinated pork hock, to go. Call in or place your order online.

6101 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609

3. Kitchen Story

5422 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618
Tornado galbi omurice at Kitchen Story Noah Cho

While Kitchen Story leans far more into the “inspired” part of “Korean-inspired,” there are some interesting takes on Korean food here and it’s packaged to go quite well. Of particular interest is the Tornado Galbi Omurice, which is both visually and gustatorily stimulating. The demi on the egg is great and there are nice chunks of short rib embedded inside. If you’re craving a Korean-style brunch, their Korean Fried Chicken and Waffle Bites hit the spot between savory and sweet. Call in or order online, with delivery available via the third-party apps.

5422 College Ave
Oakland, CA 94618

4. Yuyu Za Zang

4871 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609
Yuyu’s jajangmyeon Noah Cho

It’s hard to go wrong with a takeout order of the black bean sauce noodle dish, jajangmyeon (here listed as za zan myeon) — probably the most commonly ordered delivery dish in Seoul. This is one of the best versions in the region, complete with fresh house-made noodles. Yuyu’s jampong, a spicy seafood noodle dish that is often paired with jajangmyeon, is great, too, as are their other Korean-Chinese staples like tang sue yuk. Avoid the Chinese takeout items in favor of the Korean-Chinese ones. Call in or use one of the third-party apps to get an order.

4871 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609

5. Pyeong Chang Tofu House Oakland

4701 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609
Kimchi pancakes packed for takeout Noah Cho

You may have heard East Bay resident Samin Nosrat rave about Pyeong Chang’s kimchijeon in the New York Times Magazine — and those savory pancakes are indeed one of the best versions of the dish in the Bay Area. Pyeong Chang, though, also has some of the most satisfyingly rich soondubu in the area, and their daily rotation of house-made banchan always delights. The soondubu holds up well to takeout, but I’d pop the lid open on the pajeon if you pick it up so it retains its crispness. Both the Oakland and Berkeley locations are open for takeout, with both online ordering and app-based delivery available.

4701 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609

6. Seoul Gom Tang

3801 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

One of those “always there when you need it” Korean places, Seoul Gomtang has a range of satisfying soups from the soupier -guk and -tang dishes to the richer -jigae stews. They do an excellent, restorative version of the pork and potato soup called gamjatang here, and they have a variety of rarer, more offal-based soups as well, if that’s something you’re interested in. Call in or order via DoorDash.

3801 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609

7. EM Deli Catering

6119 La Salle Ave, Oakland, CA 94611
Selection of prepared foods at EM Deli Noah Cho

Tucked away on a sidestreet in sleepy Montclair village is a kimchi oasis. EM Deli used to be in downtown Oakland, but moved to Montclair a few years ago, and has been a welcome sight for locals. EM is best known for their excellent house-made kimchi, but their to-go dosirak — Korean lunch boxes — are excellent, and their banchan selection is varied and interesting. If you don’t see a favorite, the owners are happy to make sure it’s in stock the next time you visit. They also sell a good variety of staple items for a Korean pantry — a good option for customers who are too afraid to brave KP’s parking lot. Call in or walk in.

6119 La Salle Ave
Oakland, CA 94611

8. Tin & Pig - Kang Tong

3702 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

For a broad selection of Korean classics, you’d be hard pressed to beat the variety and quality at Tin and Pig. You can get a big order of bossam (steamed pork belly and various veggies to wrap it with), which is something that is well-suited to take out as it doesn’t need to be piping hot to enjoy. You can also go to town on their chicken gizzard dishes and selections of jeongol, which is a Korean-style hot pot. Call in or order via DoorDash.

3702 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609

9. KP Asian Market

471-499 24th St, Oakland, CA 94612

Longtime East Bay folks still call this place Koreana Plaza, and though the supermarket has gone the direction of carrying more pan-Asian staples, the Korean items that make up the core of their business are still great, and their ready to go meals are perhaps even more essential now. Their deli area has to-go japchae, banchan, pre-marinated meats, and a selection of gimbap. You can also stock up on Shin ramyun with cheese while you’re there. Be warned: this is still one of the worst parking lots in all of Oakland.

471-499 24th St
Oakland, CA 94612

10. Volcano Island

2619 Oliver Dr, Hayward, CA 94545
Two varieties of Korean fried chicken Noah Cho

A hidden gem in Hayward, this tiny fried chicken shop seems to have been tailor-made for the takeout times we find ourselves in. This is some of the best, crispiest, and tastiest Korean fried chicken that you’ll find in the Bay Area, and they even sell a sublime fried crab dish. Chicken is available as either wings or boneless pieces, and both are fantastic. You can also get an order of hotteok, the famous Korean fried donuts, fresh out of the fryer. Call in or order via third-party apps.

2619 Oliver Dr
Hayward, CA 94545

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