One of my favorite places to get Korean BBQ in San Diego is Buga. Located off the 805 freeway Claremont Mesa exit, it's known mostly for its great selection of Korean BBQ. One day we saw two older Korean ladies eating a giant hot pot filled with vegetables and seafood. Since I pride myself on walking off the beaten path Frank and I decided to try something different and order the hot pot.
Buga has a section of their menu that is labeled "Korean Specialties", at the very top of that list is the aforementioned Seafood pot at $19.99 a person (required to get at least two orders).
After a bit of a way, and some munching of Panchan, the Seafood pot arrived. Placed on top of small portable propane grill a MOUND of seafood, vegetables, noodles, and tofu overflowed from a spicy rich seafood broth. You let the noodles, tofu, and vegetables cook for awhile before you even touch the ingredients of the pot. There are giant raw prawns, clams, and raw octopus mixed in with cooked sole waiting to be stirred into the spicy broth.
After about 5-6 minutes of staring at the pot one of the friendly waitresses (which seems to be a trait at all Korean restaurants) took a big pair of scissors and started cutting up the vegetables, noodles, and octopus and pushing them deep into the broth so that every ingredient is being cooked.
After once again staring at the pot for 5-6 minutes the same waitress came up and served us the food.
Each bowl was given udon, rice cake, napa cabbage, clams, large prawns, fish, cut up pieces of octopus, delicious soup soaked tofu, onions, golden mushrooms, and other assorted vegetables.
On a cold day with a strong appetite, I can't imagine many things topping this.
You have generous chunks of Sole still attached to pieces of thick bone so you can just gnaw at the meat. Freshly cooked octopus, chewy and meaty, the frozen tofu that just soaks up every single flavor of the soup.
Of course the very best part is the soup. Since everything has been cooking inside the soup for so long you get the flavors of all the ingredients. The natural Kimchi spices combined with a wide variety of seafood creates a rich fish broth that will scare away any winter/spring chills.
It also doesn't hurt that the Udon and Rice Cakes are a perfect compliment to the soup. Udon and rice cakes do a good job of absorbing whatever is around them if they are cooked long enough within the broth and this is no exception. They gave us a bowl of rice each, but I would have easily taken an extra bowl of this delicious rubbery udon.
I really have no qualms with this dish. I enjoyed it very much and I suggest it to all seafood lovers out there. The seafood is very fresh (prawns were really fresh and meaty, and came off immediately from the shell).
One thing I found funny was the varying sizes in the types of mollusks provided. They have mussels , clams, and even larger clams. I took a picture just to show you how large the "big daddy" clam was. The waitress had to literally pry it open, cut the meat in half and then serve it to us.
Buga Korean BBQ
5580 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA