Discover Han Bul Barbecue

Carey Sweet

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Sonoma County is not just wine and vines. It has a myriad of dining options as well. Santa Rosa’s new Han Bul Korean Barbecue, family-style dining is a signature of family style Korean Dining. The restaurant on 7th Street west of Mendocino Avenue even offers a multi-course meal designed specifically for communal feasting: the BBQ Set, including four meats of your choice (like pork belly, short rib, Kobe beef and brisket), banchan omakase (a sampler of 20-plus tiny side dishes), soup, vegetable crepes, steamed eggs and rice. 

Owner Han Soh is of Korean heritage, and he keeps things authentic at his contemporary-décor eatery. That banchan omakase is a core of Korean dining, and here, the selection changes daily, featuring lots of pickles from mild to killer spicy, and exotic goodies that might include raw squid in chili sauce, fish cakes, dried daikon marinated in kimchi sauce, and all kinds of delicacies jazzed up with lots of garlic.

interior view on Han Bul Barbecue in Sonoma County

The banchan can be nibbled as is, wrapped in lettuce, or even better, paired with meats, rice, and assorted sauces such as gochujang chile sauce, doenjang fermented soybean paste, and ssamjang, a thick, spicy paste made of doenjang, gochujang, sesame oil, garlic, honey, green onions and miso.

Meats take center stage, and the kitchen will grill them for you, but even better, you can grill them yourself on the high-tech electric hibachi tables. Selections include a dizzying array of beef and pork cuts, seafood like squid, lobster tail and shrimp, and chicken. Classics include kalbi (marinated short rib), and bossam (broiled pork belly and oysters wrapped in tender cabbage leaves).

Image of raw meats dish at Han Bul Barbecue in Sonoma County

Other notable dishes include japchae (sweet potato glass noodles with minced beef and veggies in sesame oil sauce), haemul pajeon (crispy seafood pancakes), soondobu (seafood tofu hot pot with shrimp, clams, octopus and a cracked raw egg), and dol sot bibimbap (sizzling rice, vegetables and fried egg with beef or chicken in a hot stone bowl).

Note that when the chefs say something is spicy, they mean it. You can request whatever level you prefer, but even for mild, you’ll want to have some of the menu’s Asian beer, Sonoma County wine or Korean sake on-hand, for emergency tongue cooling.

Details: 522 Seventh Street, Santa Rosa, 510-206-3947.