I am really torn on how to handle this review. Lots of extremely positive things, and but also many negative. I will just put it out there and let you judge for yourself based on your personal priorities.
I must preface this to say I am a regular at Pacific Fish Center and Restaurant just below them on the pier. They have the best dungeness crabs, lobster, fried oysters, and live shrimp I have had anywhere. Except when they are having a bad day and I get the occasional mushy creature. And the service is consistently awful as well as the long wait on weekends. And they use the most absolute cheapest disposable plates and napkins that dissolve if you look at them funny. And they charge you corkage if you bring wine but give you plastic cups to drink it out of. But the crab is SO good I just keep coming back for more.
So after a particularly amazing lunch there (shorter lines) we were wandering around the pier and saw this place on the third floor. Turns out they have been there for 6 months, but I never noticed them before. Walked in, asked for a menu, and the price per pound on the lobster and crab, and it was comparable to Pacific Fish. So same prices, but much better view, real plates and silverware, waitress service, and lots of other menu options. We decided to try it the following week as an experiment.
We went on a weeknight around 7pm, and were rewarded with an incredible view of the sunset. Also, they treated the white burgundy we brought with appropriate respect and glassware.
For those of you who don’t have a lot of experience with korean restaurants, you will note that menu items are never what they seem. Everything comes with an assortment of “banchan” (small side dishes) so you never what to expect. We decided to “go for it” and ordered a “small” live sashimi fish (they said it was yellow tail from their tank) and a live lobster sashimi. The YT was about $60 and the lobster at almost 4 lbs was $90. THe food just kept coming for hours and hours. Soups, veggies, edamame, sushi rolls, some incredible snails, other fish courses, on and on. Even a killer salad.
The good: THe lobster sashimi was the tail meat of the lobster in the shell, pre-sliced into chunks. There were gold flakes sprinkled on top. (the waitress explained they are “good for digestion.”) The head and the body of the lobster stared at us while we ate its tail. It occasionally made sudden, dramatic and somewhat threatening gestures with its claw. This was somewhat disconcerting. However, I recalled my college bio courses and the lesson on the primitive nervous system of the lobsters and knew it did was not capable of suffering pain as mammals know it so I felt reassured. The excellent Grand Cru Chablis also helped.
The promised YT sashimi turned out to be snapper. It was a huge plate, probably equivalent to like 5-8 sashimi orders at a Japanese restaurant. The quality was incredible, as this fish was swimming around just moments earlier. I happen to prefer YT to snapper so I was disappointed I did not get what I was expecting, but it was definitely worth it. There was also some snapper belly served alongside the fillet slices which was extraordinary. Soy sauce & wasabi was a dipping option, but the preferred method of eating involved wrapping the slices in red lettuce leaves, spicy red sauce, and exceptionally mild garlic slices and jalapeno. I really enjoyed the korean flavor as a yin/yang to the mild and silky fish flavor and texture.
Later on the meal, the steamed lobster body came back to us. Sadly, it was water-logged and overcooked. As this was a $90 lobster, that was really disappointing and why I hesitate to recommend this restaurant with enthusiasm. I do want to go back and have it prepared another way, but not sure how. I hear there is a “spicy stew” option. An expensive experiment as my husband dislikes kim chee, but may be worth a shot.
Overall, I recommend going here with a large group and ordering lots of stuff. I really want to try the dungeness and see how it compares with Pacific Fish. THey also have live abalone and all kinds of sushi and sashimi. Boring cooked dishes are also available. THe menu claims live octopus but they said they no longer have it.