Just Coals

At this Korean restaurant, you eat what you cook

The modus operandi behind Gogi Time in Uptown Oakland becomes clear when you learn that gogi is Korean for "meat."

You can order à la carte here, but why bother? Everyone else at this smoky, expansive restaurant is there for hot pot or all-you-can-eat barbecue (both $25 per adult and $12 per child), complete with appetizers, sides and panchan. A few rules, though:

Dress to cook. The giant vents looming over every table are there for a reason: Gogi Time is one of the few Korean barbecues in town that allows you to grill over braziers filled with wood charcoal. Smoke on the meat: good. Smoke on your suit jacket: not so much.

Grill until you can grill no more.

Choose your meat. The menu offers diners a choice of three types of seafood and six meats. Skip the cheap-tasting bulgogi in favor of the sweet-and-spicy marinated pork and thick squares of pork belly. Mussels cooked on the flames are always nice, too.

Slow down. Those first few strips of meat may seem like they cook all too slowly, but once the gogi train gets rolling, it's hard to throw on the brakes. The trick our waiter showed us: Heap all the meat on the grill and slowly spread it out as dinner progresses.

Gogi time!