First off, good luck finding the place — there’s no English sign, and the building’s dingy exterior belies the fact that there’s a restaurant inside. (Look for “Big Daddy’s” next door.) Even more than Oakland’s other Korean pubs, or soju bangs, Kang Tong Degi has the feel of a secret club. But the humble dishes served here are well worth seeking out. There are sautéed chicken gizzards, grilled to chewy-crunchy perfection. There’s “cheese corn,” corn kernels cooked in mayo and condensed milk — a weird but delicious thing, halfway between a stoner’s snack and a dessert. But the pièce de résistance is the spicy ham-and-noodle stew, which Koreans know as budae jjigae or “army stew”: a pot of savory gochujang (red pepper paste)-spiked broth filled with every imaginable thing: tofu, kimchi, rice cakes, instant ramen, Spam, hot dogs. Nothing’s more comforting on a cold night.
Hours: Daily 6 p.m.-2 a.m.
Payment Type: Cash, Visa, Mastercard