1:43 PM on President's Day. My mother and I venture into a part of San Jose we rarely step foot on. We're on a mission to film the latest episode of Kingdom Koreatown. Remember Psy? The man who horse-danced his way to international fame with "Gangnam Style"? There are french fries inspired by him. And once you eat them, you will have energy to dance all night. And you will dance all night to sweat them carbs off!
"Oppa Gangnam Fries" are their official title at Burnt Rice. Topped off with sweet pieces of bulgogi, fresh kimchi, scallions and an over-easy egg, these fries are the perfect go-to finger food for a sporting event. Not into beef? Customize your order with pork belly, spicy or sweet koriake chicken or spicy pork instead. The egg doesn't need to be over-easy either. Have it your way!
In plain and simple English, the Oppa Gangnam Fries are sweet, spicy and salty. It is said to be the most popular dish at Burnt Rice. It is also the most flavorful of the three dishes we ordered.
There's also the Gangnam Fries, which contains less toppings and goes for only $5.50 ($4.25 less than its fancier version). They're like Oppa Gangnam Fries minus the protein. For less flavoring, order the regular French Fries. They can be tossed in garlic seasoning.
Burnt Rice is a fusion eatery. While they serve the classic Korean foods including Kimchi JJigae and Ddeokbokki, other cuisines are seen on the menu. From Kung Pao Calamari to Pork Belly Musabi to Cajun Salmon Salad, this joint is all over the map. Hello Japan, China and America!
Banchan (Korean side dishes) are not free like most Korean restaurants. From a business perspective, I endorse. Everyone loves getting unlimited refills on free banchan. However I do believe that traditional Korean restaurants should charge considering how much effort and time it takes to prepare each side dish. At Burnt Rice, you get a set of four types for $2. Doesn't taste like an experienced Korean mother made them, but hey, within the neighborhood, it's the only banchan around. Better something than nothing.
The Bibimbap comes with a set of banchan. Order it with your choice of bulgogi, tofu, spicy pork. koriake chicken, spicy chicken, shrimp, salt & pepper chicken breast or pork belly with an egg your way. Add kimchi fried rice for an additional $1 on top of the $10.50. My mother and I decide since we already have beef bulgogi with the Oppa Gangnam Fries, we will order tofu for the Bibimbap.
My first reaction when the Bibimbap arrives: Where's my beloved mushroom? How about the bean sprouts? I remind myself that this eatery serves Americanized Korean food. The Bibimbap is bland. I recommend it for those who want to order something healthy. My mother liked it. As for me, I added Oppa Gangnam Fries to the Bibimbap bowl. The two dishes complemented one another.
My mother and I agree that our favorite dish during our dining experience is the Japchae. The noodles are traditionally prepared by boiling them in hot water, then marinaded. At Burnt Rice, the noodles are stir-fried. Though portions of the noodles were slightly burnt, I liked them that way. These burnt bits reminded me of crispy, brown rice found on the inside bottom of Dolsot Bibimbap bowls. In fact, the restaurant is named after that thin layer of lightly burnt rice in the hot stone bowl.
Our meal is concluded with two Soju Bombs: one with lychee flavoring, the other with strawberry. The lychee soju bomb will leave a smile on your mouth. The strawberry flavor is supposedly a popular order, but it tasted kiddish to me. Maybe it's because I used to eat everything with a strawberry flavor when I was a wee little girl.
If you like the sound of breezy palm tree leaves and frequent roars of airplanes, go for outdoor dining. My mother and I sat outside for filming purposes due to lighting. For common customers, I recommend sitting inside. If there's a football game going on, television screens await you! Wherever you sit, you can watch your favorite team score.
Burnt Rice is located at The Plant Shopping Center. Aw, what a healthy sounding name! Images of flowers and leafy greens may pop in your head. Alas, see the signage at the entrance. There are two industrial workers embellishing it. "The Plant" refers to factories. Double entendre.
The Plant Shopping Center is massive and filled with many, many parking spaces. If the internet on your phone goes dead like mine did, you'll have an adventure looking for Burnt Rice. The eatery is located across from Best Buy and right next to Wingstop and Krispy Kreme.
121 Curtner Ave #20
San Jose, CA 95125