Bulgogi beef, which arrives with sour and spicy kimchi fried rice and small bowls of pickled vegetables on a lunch plate at Burnt Rice.

Burnt Rice, a modern Korean fusion restaurant in San Jose, is a mix of classic Korean dishes such as bibimbap and Korean barbecue, as well as dishes that draw on a bit of Mexicali-Korean fusion, such as bulgogi beef tacos.”>Burnt Rice, a modern Korean fusion restaurant, has great potential. The dining room has a clean modern feel, with marble counter tops and a red accent wall, plus a bar with two large projection TVs and a third HDTV.

The extensive menu is a mix of classic Korean dishes such as bibimbap and Korean barbecue, as well as dishes that draw on a bit of Mexicali-Korean fusion, such as bulgogi beef tacos (with corn salsa or spicy Gangnam nacho fries). Service is very friendly and dishes are artfully presented and served on crisp, white dishware, giving Burnt Rice an edge on its chain restaurant neighbors. However, on recent visits, the fusion menu that I had high hopes for delivered hits and misses.

A $20 lunch special for two plates and an appetizer to share may seem like great value, but the quality is not on a par with the restaurant’s regular menu. My guest and I ordered Kung Pao Kalamari, a side of kimchi fried rice, the bulgogi lunch plate and the Koriake salad.

The very tasty Kung Pao Kalamari was a generous portion of fried calamari with zucchini, carrots, jalapenos and candied nuts in a spicy and sweet kung pao sauce and was a really good starter. We ordered a side of the kimchi fried rice to eat with the Kalamari, expecting the two spicy flavors to mesh well. The kimchi rice came out looking hours old. The sour and spicy kimchi flavors were there for certain, but I was really turned off by the mushy rice.

At dinner, the beef bulgogi and other Korean barbecue dishes arrive on sizzling plates with little bowls of tasty Korean banchan, which include kimchi and sesame oil-marinated bean sprouts. In comparison, the beef bulgogi lunch plate arrived with a glazed-over appearance, served alone on the plate alongside a few banchan dishes and rice—and no sizzling platter.

It’s fair to say that Burnt Rice has its crowd pleasers such as the bibimbap, sizzling barbecue plates and Korean tacos. The bar serves Korean beers and soju that pair perfectly with the rich and spicy flavors of Korean food.

As good a value as the lunch special would seem to be, as well as the happy hour specials, Burnt Rice does best at serving up quality, tasty Korean food during its dinner hours.

Find more restaurant options on the SanJose.com dining page.