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Oppa Gangnam Fries at Burnt Rice

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Oppa Gangnam Fries at Burnt Rice

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!

My mother sips on her warm cup of water during this Palm Spring-like afternoon.

My mother sips on her warm cup of water during this Palm Spring-like afternoon.

"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!

From far away, the beef bulgogi may be shaped like a fried fish. But nope, it's the Oppa Gangnam Fries!

From far away, the beef bulgogi may be shaped like a fried fish. But nope, it's the Oppa Gangnam Fries!

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.

Oppa Gangnam Fries from the side. Just because.

Oppa Gangnam Fries from the side. Just because.

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!

From way left to right: Bibimbap with Fried Tofu, Oppa Gangnam Fries, Japchae. Bottom: Banchan (Korean side dishes).

From way left to right: Bibimbap with Fried Tofu, Oppa Gangnam Fries, Japchae. Bottom: Banchan (Korean side dishes).

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.

Bibimbap with Fried Tofu and Over-easy Egg

Bibimbap with Fried Tofu and Over-easy Egg

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.

Mixing the Bibimbap ingredients. Don't forget to squeeze in some Gochujang sauce!

Mixing the Bibimbap ingredients. Don't forget to squeeze in some Gochujang sauce!

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.

Slurpin' those Japchae noodles!

Slurpin' those Japchae noodles!

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.

While waiting for our food to arrive, I couldn't help but admire the colors my mother donned. Gotta love the hot pink combined with the grey hair and dark purple shades.

While waiting for our food to arrive, I couldn't help but admire the colors my mother donned. Gotta love the hot pink combined with the grey hair and dark purple shades.

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.

Looks like my mother doesn't need to cook dinner tonight!

Looks like my mother doesn't need to cook dinner tonight!

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.

See, I told you there was a TV!

See, I told you there was a TV!

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.

The first thing you see when you enter the restaurant: the bar.

The first thing you see when you enter the restaurant: the bar.

Burnt Rice facade.

Burnt Rice facade.

Burnt Rice
(408) 490-4776
121 Curtner Ave #20
San Jose, CA 95125
Website


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Korean Grocery Shopping at Kyopo Market

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Korean Grocery Shopping at Kyopo Market

Welcome to Kyopo Market, one of the Korean grocery shops I grew up with. It was previously located on El Camino Real next to Morning Glory, a cute stationary shop filled with stickers and snail mail goodies. A starkly decorated Indian market now stands where the old Kyopo Market used to be. Saravana Store, they call it. If I ever had to film a post-apocalyptic film, I'd scout this location. Yes, I've visited Saravana before because I adore Indian food and culture.

Rows of various kimchi at Kyopo Market.

Rows of various kimchi at Kyopo Market.

Back to Kyopo Market. What does this catchy name mean? "Kyopo" is a term for native Koreans who reside in a country outside of their homeland. The name straightforwardly reveals who its target audience is. When my mother and I filmed this week's episode of Kingdom Koreatown, we bumped into many kyopos, including my mother's previous financial adviser and ex-hairstylist. We even encountered a woman we saw during our lunch at a restaurant nearly five miles away! Oh, coincidences.

On weekends, sample Korean food.

On weekends, sample Korean food.

Friendly lady serving customers Kyopo Market side dishes.

Friendly lady serving customers Kyopo Market side dishes.

Weekends are the busiest and that is when you get free samples. Head over to the produce area. The corner furthest from the entrance will have vendors. Sometimes employees from Kyopo promote their banchan (반찬), Korean side dishes. Other tables represent businesses scattered through Koreatown San Jose.

My mother and I munch on bungeoppang (붕어빵), those fish-shaped pastries filled with red bean paste. It's similar to Japan's taiyaki because it was introduced to Korea during the colonization.

Heavenly bungeoppang. Soft at the core, cushiony on the outside, crispy on the outermost edges.

Heavenly bungeoppang. Soft at the core, cushiony on the outside, crispy on the outermost edges.

A young man from Taiyaki Cafe makes these pastries in front of your very eyes.

A young man from Taiyaki Cafe makes these pastries in front of your very eyes.

Grab your box of bungeoppang while they're warm and fresh. Four fishies for $5 USD.

Grab your box of bungeoppang while they're warm and fresh. Four fishies for $5 USD.

One of my favorite activities to do at Kyopo Market is ringing the bell. The first time I heard it, I was in love. It sounds like an ambulance. An overly urgent call to the men working at the seafood section. The bell lasts as long as your finger pushes it. I dare you to ring it for ten seconds and see what happens. I'm a bit of a mischief, so I couldn't help but break out into laughter.

Having a bad day? Ring that "Need Help?" for a good laugh.

Having a bad day? Ring that "Need Help?" for a good laugh.

The men behind the counter were a good sport and laughed when my mother and I enthusiastically rung the bell.

The men behind the counter were a good sport and laughed when my mother and I enthusiastically rung the bell.

Better luck next lifetime, fishies.

Better luck next lifetime, fishies.

Mmmm... Complex carbs!

Mmmm... Complex carbs!

Shhh... Don't tell too many people, but my mother gets her sweet potatoes from Kyopo. She takes a solid ten minutes picking medium-sized sweet potatoes as I circle around her for a photoshoot.

Hills of sweet potatoes.

Hills of sweet potatoes.

Can't wait for the house to be filled with the baked scent of these babies!

Can't wait for the house to be filled with the baked scent of these babies!

Interested in cooking Korean food? Aside from the edible ingredients, you might want to invest in some "Made in Korea" bowls. Be responsible for creating deliciously boiling, sizzling, and steaming hot messes in your own home! From kimchi jjigae to dwenjang jjigae, this bowl is ready for all the action.

Bowl typically seen in Korean restaurants.

Bowl typically seen in Korean restaurants.

Every aisle will make your eyes pop out. So. Many. Ingredients. You'll be inspired to cook pretty much every Korean recipe out there. Dried sheets of seaweed? Ooh la la, let's make kimbap. Mini roasted sheets of seaweed covered in sesame oil and salt? Enjoy at the dining table by wrapping them over a spoonful of rice. Clumpy seasoned laver? Sprinkle those bits over your bowl of plain white rice.

The seaweed section.

The seaweed section.

Beware when stepping into the snack aisle. Prepare your mind for temptation overload. Most snacks are Korean, however there are also Japanese assortments as well. Pepero and Pocky harmoniously are stacked next to each other.

Korean snack section that inspires me to film more episodes of "Snack Tub Korea."

Korean snack section that inspires me to film more episodes of "Snack Tub Korea."

On the same aisle, look at the other side. The top shelf is piled with tall bags of Korean crackers. Don't worry if you haven't been working out. These bags may be big, but are quite light. Even a child can carry one bag in each hand.

Big, big bags of Korean crackers.

Big, big bags of Korean crackers.

My mother uses the cracker bag as a pillow.

My mother uses the cracker bag as a pillow.

Multi-functional snack indeed. Sleep on it, then munch it!

Multi-functional snack indeed. Sleep on it, then munch it!

Instant noodles may not be the healthiest snack, but is perfect for the zombie apocalypse. Or for your next camping trip. Enjoy them uncooked or marry them with boiling water. I don't eat ramyun often, but when I do: Nongshim Shin Ramyun. In a cup.

Ramyun, ramyun, ramyun... Enough to last a lifetime!

Ramyun, ramyun, ramyun... Enough to last a lifetime!

Glass jar of napa cabbage kimchi.

Glass jar of napa cabbage kimchi.

Hungry for tangsuyuk (탕수육)? Along with strictly Korean food, there's a menu that offers Chinese Korean dishes at the food court. Savor various versions of jjambbong (짬뽕) and jjajangmyun (짜장면). Not hungry? Take some side dishes to go.

Jack Black seen in the food court. With his eyes censored.

Jack Black seen in the food court. With his eyes censored.

Fish jeon. Savory Korean pancakes.

Fish jeon. Savory Korean pancakes.

Fried kelp. Crunchy yum.

Fried kelp. Crunchy yum.

During winter, let soju warm you up. For summer, enjoy it blended with a chilled watermelon. It's popularly mixed with Yakult as well.

Yeahhhhhhh babyyyyyyyy!

Yeahhhhhhh babyyyyyyyy!

Hope you enjoyed the tour of Kyopo Market. There are other Korean grocery shops within miles. Each have their own ambiance and sought-out ingredients by neighboring K-restaurants. Stay tuned for more Kingdom Koreatown episodes to see where our next food adventures take us!

The facade of Kyopo Market with organic lens flare on the right. That's what they call "serendipity."

The facade of Kyopo Market with organic lens flare on the right. That's what they call "serendipity."

Super Kyo-Po Plaza (aka: Kyopo Market)
 (408) 243-9005
3521 Homestead Rd
Santa Clara, CA 95051
Website

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LA Galbi at Korean Palace

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LA Galbi at Korean Palace

This week on Kingdom Koreatown we venture outside of El Camino Real's main Koreatown San Jose. We head to the neighborhood that is home to San Jose's biggest shopping spots: Valley Fair and Santana Row. Both sell luxury goods. The latter has Hotel Valencia, where Britney Spears and her crew once stayed. 

Not too far away is the oldest Korean restaurant in San Jose. If you ever need an intermission from all that shopping, head on over to Korean Palace to refuel!  

What a Sunday evening dinner at Korean Palace looks like.

What a Sunday evening dinner at Korean Palace looks like.

Opened in 1979, Korean Palace was almost the first Korean restaurant established in the area. There was another which opened up just two to three months before, but closed many years ago. Biwon (Secret Garden), featured on the first episode of Kingdom Koreatown, was the third in line to open, however closed its doors last month. 

Flexible seating and booths. 

Flexible seating and booths. 

Do not underestimate the interior of Korean Palace. Sure, it may not be as glossy and modern as newer eateries such as Chungdam. Do you know how much each wooden chair costs? $450 USD. That's quality treatment on the rear. The owner's mother bought these chairs ten years ago. Though Italian in style, they were handmade and imported from Korea. 

What $450 USD looks like up-close.  

What $450 USD looks like up-close.  

$450 USD from head to toe. 

$450 USD from head to toe. 

Let's take a second look at the interior. Does it look fancier now that you know how much expensive wood is present? If you fart, try to be gentle. 

These chairs look pretty darn youthful considering they are at least a decade old!

These chairs look pretty darn youthful considering they are at least a decade old!

It's not just your tush that'll be getting royal treatment; your mouth is also in for a pleasant surprise. Korean Palace has some of the best side dishes I've tried in San Jose. The Korean food around here tends to range on the sweet side, as businesses cater to the American taste bud. Those who know Korean food will savor Korean Palace's authentic flavors. They are not making compromises. 

The top five Napa Cabbage Kimchi in NorCal that I've tried thus far. Spicy. Not sweet. 

The top five Napa Cabbage Kimchi in NorCal that I've tried thus far. Spicy. Not sweet. 

My mother patiently waiting for me to finish taking photos and filming. 

My mother patiently waiting for me to finish taking photos and filming. 

My mother and I order a boldly red bowl of Maeuntang (spicy fish soup). It contains cod, tofu, jalapeño, radish, gochujang, and other delights. It is spicy, but not as fiery as the Napa Cabbage Kimchi

Maeuntang. Spicy fish soup made with gochujang.

Maeuntang. Spicy fish soup made with gochujang.

If you think the Maeuntang is tasty, wait until you try the L.A. Galbi! Soft... Each bite is a soothing experience. A lullaby to the mouth. Ah, the sweet songs you sing on my tongue, you Galbi! 

L.A. Galbi that is softer than a baby's butt. Maybe. Try it to find out for yourself. 

L.A. Galbi that is softer than a baby's butt. Maybe. Try it to find out for yourself. 

As my lips are coated with delicious marinade while biting around the bones of my dear L.A. Galbi, I notice a casual pot of cactus sitting on the wooden frame next to our booth.  

These cactus are scattered through the restaurant. Random and cute. 

These cactus are scattered through the restaurant. Random and cute. 

Cactus are a succulent and the food at Korean Palace is super succulent! My mother and I agree we would happily feature it again on Kingdom Koreatown. 

Donezo. We ended up taking food to-go. High five for getting another meal out of leftovers! 

Donezo. We ended up taking food to-go. High five for getting another meal out of leftovers! 

Where we heading to next? Korean Palace will be a hard act to follow, but that's not stopping us to explore! Tune in next Wednesday 12PM PST on my YouTube channel for more food adventures.

Korean Palace
(408) 947-8600
2297 Stevens Creek Blvd
San Jose, CA 95128

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