Korean Food and Drink: Dan Sung Sa, aka Porno Bar

 

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Birthday parties, a smart man once said, come only once a year.  I took his/her advice and helped a co-worker celebrate his natal anniversary, and he had the good sense and connections to take us all to a spot in Oakland with a promising sobriquet.  People call it “The Porno Bar” because at one time there were posters of Korean pornography plastered on the walls.  Or so they tell me, “they” being one of my less-than-trustworthy comrades-in-arms at the restaurant from which we both extract a living.

Driving down a nondescript, mostly non-commercial stretch of Telegraph Avenue, you’d be forgiven for not noticing Dan Sung Sa (that being the real name of what everybody would rather call The Porno Bar).   Its exterior resembles one of those anonymous Tenderloin sweatshops that sell baby elephant tusks painted with Soylent Green.  Go inside, however, and you’re transported to some kind of Wild West, ramshackle restaurant lined on either side with semi-private  booths wherein occurs things tinged with a sinful red glow.  The whole ambience of the place reminds me of a salty dive that Toshiro Mfune might have visited in one of Akira Kurosawa’s samurai pictures.  Rough, unfinished wood, tattered newsprint and yellowed posters for wallpaper slow-cook in humid, sapien conviviality.  A twenty-foot-long table running down the middle is where all sixteen of us sat and drank multiple bottles of Soju, our occasional toasts washing down plates of savory seafood pancakes, sticky bowls of hot wings, chicken gizzard sautéed with green onion, the classic Korean short ribs, a bowl of creamed corn I wanted to hate but couldn’t stay away from, and a million other delights.

The Porno Bar is where people go to drink and eat and celebrate life with no quarter given to decorum or dignity, the kind of place that Falstaff could spit forth well-articulated inanities with unbridled abandoned.  Go!

 

Dan Sung Sa
2775 Telegraph Avenue (@ 28th Street)
[Pill Hill/ North Oakland]
Oakland

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About the author

Matt Fink - Fatt Mink

I grew up in San Jose, only 50 minutes away from S.F. My dad, brother and I came up often to visit family and/or to fart around, and whenever the car came over the rise on Hwy. 101 just after Candlestick Park, I could hear an almost audible "Click" in my brain. The blinding, beautifully rolling blanket of diverse urbanity spread out before our speeding automobile, coupled with draughts of the clean, cool air conspired to instill in me a growing discontent with San Jose. Add access to hitherto unknown strata of music, booze and food culture, not to mention pet-deification and testicular-separators, and I couldn't be kept away for long. Even after ten years of residency, the sight of a glistening pair of moose-knuckles swinging down Market St. still makes my heart swell with pride.

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