Sahn Maru

translation: top of the mountain

translation: top of the mountain

My parents came to Berkeley today to remind me why I love them and prove that absence makes the heart grow fonder. I’m feeling warm and fuzzy and nauseous already, but that’s due more to the fact that it’s 100 degrees in my room and I ate another feast. After running some errands, we headed to Temescal again, where all the Korean food is. My mom always wants it when she comes to Berkeley, even though she is allergic to anything spicy, which is the cause of much dining woe. This was the case at poor Sahn Maru, which had no idea what it was in for when Mama Beans set foot inside. It didn’t help that none of the employees knew much English. I usually love that it’s a sign of the food’s authenticity and have nothing but patience for language barriers, but eating with a starving/picky/increasingly upset mother made it less charming.

I love their chair mats. From my seat, I had a nice view of everything but behind me, there was a wall with sculptures of human butts.

I love their chair mats. From my seat, I had a nice view of everything but behind me, there was a wall with sculptures of human butts.

Decent number of banchan, but nothing memorable. The medley of rice was bomb though, it had 3 different types of beans in it and various grains and everything was cooked to this sticky but chewy consistency

Decent number of banchan, but nothing memorable. The medley of rice was bomb though, it had 3 different types of beans in it and various grains and everything was cooked to this sticky but chewy consistency

My dad's familiar-looking dish. I can't remember the name but it had vegetables, bulgogi, and glass? noodles. I am guessing that's what they were because I like the over-literal name. I tried a bit and felt it too salty and a bit mushy for me. It lacked...je ne sais quoi.

My dad's familiar-looking dish. I can't remember the name but it had vegetables, bulgogi, and glass? noodles (10). I am going to say that's what they were because I like the over-literal name. I tried a bit and felt it too salty and a bit mushy for me. It lacked...je ne sais quoi.

This is my mom's mild tofu soup (10) when I lean over it with my glasses on. Notice my new habit of writing everything in these captions. Just when I thought it was impossible to get any lazier

This is my mom's mild tofu soup (10) when I lean over it with my glasses on. It had tofu, beef, potatoes, onions, enoki, and an egg, which my mom asked for but they gave for free. Notice my new habit of writing everything in these captions. Just when I thought it was impossible to get any lazier. But look, I took a video to capture the bubbling

My mom always makes it very clear that she can’t eat anything spicy, but on this occasion, this one was definitely full of white pepper (Worst one ever – she should never touch the stuff. Go through strep throat five times and then ask me if I’m exaggerating.) They probably figured that she meant nothing with chili. Still, we had to go through the painful ordeal of asking them to make a new one. Then we realized that my dad never got the rice he ordered. So he sat and waited cause his dish was practically a salt lick, while my mom ate some of our food because neither of us had breakfast, as I inhaled my delicious bibimbap. Finally, the new soup got here and it tasted almost exactly like the first one. She was so looking forward to it, but couldn’t really drink any 😥

It was easier to pretend it was fine but they kept sending various employees to ask us how it was, so I told them it might be the pepper in some pre-made paste they use for the soup base. But none of them knew enough English so finally I just said “I don’t know if you understand anything I’m saying” while smiling and nodding. That seemed to placate them. Well, I thought the soup was pretty tasty.

My bibimbap (10) was nothing short of gorgey. It was listed on this extra page that was all vegetarian, what a treat. It included tofu, shitake, spinach, carrots, cucumber, seaweed, zuchinni, and a perfectly fried egg with a golden, runny yolk. The veggies were lightly blanched and seasoned with sesame oil. I slathered on some of the veg sweet bean chili sauce (gochujang), mixed it up, and ate it with the bowl of rice. It was another standard version and I don't know if I'll ever find one to rave about. But though it didn't exactly delight me with surprises , it satisfied. So perfect for a hot day. This is art, people. Eat it.

My bibimbap (10) was nothing short of gorgey. It was listed on this extra page that was all vegetarian, what a treat. It included tofu, shitake, spinach, carrots, cucumber, seaweed, zuchinni, and a perfectly fried egg with a golden, runny yolk. The veggies were lightly blanched and seasoned with sesame oil. I slathered on some of the veg sweet bean chili sauce (gochujang), mixed it up, and ate it with the bowl of rice. It was another standard version and I don't know if I'll ever find one to rave about. But though it didn't exactly delight me with surprises , it satisfied. So perfect for a hot day. This is art, people. Eat it.

It makes sense to compare Sahn Maru with Sura, where the three of us got almost identical items. At Sura, my dad’s dish was a lot tastier, my mom’s was..edible, and mine was basically the same but had much better mushrooms. And oh, their banchan…

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