Occupation: Chef and High-Tech Entrepreneur
Favorite Restaurant: HRD Smokin’ Grill
Reviewed HRD Smokin’ Grill: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
HRD Smokin’ Grill is a North Beach oasis. Where everything else is Italian and often over-priced, HRD is a whole lot of Korean BBQ bang for your buck. The owner, Jojo, is a hard-working and friendly entrepreneur who makes everything from scratch, including all of her own sauces, for both this and the older location. While the NoMa HRD is open for breakfast and lunch the Grill is open for dinner, and you’re going to need napkins. The Smokin’ Chicken Salad is a favorite and the Wasabi Apple Coleslaw gives you just the right kick to take down the Korean Short Ribs. I’ll be back.
Location: Castro Valley
Favorite Restaurant: Buddy’s Bites and Brews
Reviewed HRD Smokin’ Grill: Sunday, April 14, 2013
HRD is a little Korean BBQ-Fusion spot in North Beach. We came on a Sunday afternoon. Plenty of parking, which was lucky for North Beach. It is a surprising location – when you think of North beach you think of Italian food, so go with an open mind. Plenty of picnic style tables throughout to take a seat at after you order from the menu above the cash register. And when I say cash register, I mean It’s a cash-only spot, so hit the ATM ahead of time.
The reasonably-priced menu had options of Asian burritos, tacos, bibimbaps (wasn’t sure what these were) and some side dishes as well. I wanted to try a few different things so I tried the pulled pork tacos, chicken tacos, Mongolian cheesesteak, and the char grilled kalbi bibimbaps and the kim chi spicy rice. The nice lady took our order and said we made good choices and that made me look forward to the dishes we selected. I had an afterthought to order some wasabi apple coleslaw and she offered to let me try it first. She put a small scoop in a little cup and I ate it while everyone awaited my reaction. Holy Wasabi! It really opened up my nasal passages. I had to pass as it wasn’t really what I was in the mood for, but it was really nice of her to offer. We ordered sodas from the self-serve beverage fridge. There was only a few options– Coke, Sprite, Snapple or water.
Once the food came out, the Kalbi Bibimbaps came out first. The kalbi was a gorgeous presentation. The ribs were affixed on top of a bed of greens and topped with a cooked egg. Unfortunately, the temperature of the dish was luke warm. The meat was very tasty and made me wish that it had came out piping hot, I would have enjoyed it much more. We also wished that they served beer/ or had beer as a beverage option, which would’ve been a nice pairing with the BBQ dishes.
The chicken tacos came out second and had a lovely presentation. The dish had three tacos on arranged standing up; stuffed with meat, a salad garnish and dressed with what looked like a creamy kim chi mayo sauce. I had high hopes for this dish. Unfortunately the meat tasted too much like kim chi. I like kim chi, but not that much. It over-powered the dish for me.
The Mongolian Cheesesteak was very good, but honestly if I want a cheesesteak in SF I will go to specialty Cheesesteak shop for that, not Korean BBQ. The Pulled Pork Tacos tasted like the exact same flavoring as the chicken tacos. I really wish it would have differentiated the flavorings between the two types of tacos. These were also dressed with the creamy sauce that tasted like kim chi mayo. The kim chi spicy rice was dry and uneventful.
While we were eating I asked why it was called HRD and the nice lady, (which identified herself as the owner) explained that they were fairly new. She mentioned she also owns HRD (Human Resources Dept.) coffee shop, downtown. She said many customers recognize the name, HRD, from the building downtown. She proceeded to ask how we were enjoying our food and if we had any comments. We declined and said thanks for her service. Next time I’m in North Beach I would rather eat Italian food than here, but if I’m in the mood for Korean BBQ and am in the area, I’d order the kalbi bibimbaps again, but ask for it served piping hot!
Favorite Restaurant: Metro Lafayette
Reviewed HRD Smokin’ Grill: Saturday, April 14, 2013
I knew the minute we walked into HRD Smokin’ Grill that we were in for a treat. It smelled amazing, was spic ‘n span clean, and the owner was just waiting to blow us away with what she clearly knows is good cooking. Although we were the only patrons at that moment, a line grew steadily behind us. With a huge smile, Jojo enthusiastically told us about the favorites on the menu, asked us questions about our preferences, and then waited patiently for us to make up our minds. We wanted to order it all, and since it was such a great value and we had a crowd, we nearly did. We sat at one of the many large picnic tables that enable this restaurant to allow a maximum capacity for the small space. The service was as fast as it was friendly.
The restaurant features BBQ fare and Korean dishes and I was surprised by how harmonious these two cuisines can be. The short ribs, marinated for twenty four hours in a teriyaki-type marinade, were worth the trip into the city. We had these in the bibimbap preparation and it was an amazing combo. The sweet chili fried pork chops had a thin and crispy sesame cornmeal crust and was dressed with a sweet and spicy sauce that had a really nice kick. Served a top a bed of nicely crisped fries the two big chops covered the whole plate! Alongside them was an apple wasabi coleslaw that I can honestly say I’ll be craving soon. Based on its taste and originality, ordering this dish is a must!
The taco plate was one of the biggest I’ve seen and was loaded with moist, flavorful char-grilled pineapple chicken. It had apple slaw and fresh julienned veggies on top. My only gripe would be that the corn tortillas were a little heavy and overwhelmed the chicken slightly. Thinner, lighter corn tortillas would’ve allowed the flavorful filling to shine as it could. The mashed potatoes with Japanese curry sauce (imagine curry-flavored gravy) was yummy and unique and presented a nice balance to the heat in some of the dishes. HRD Smokin’ Grill proudly lives up to the motto emblazoned on its awning: “Good Eats, Nice Peeps.”