Sunday, July 5, 2015

Mandoo Bar

Early in the World Cup, we checked off South Korea for our WWC challenge. Technically, we didn't have to get Korean food at all for the challenge (explanation here) since we did it last year for the men's challenge, but we were having a lazy Saturday, just walking around instead of biking, and Koreatown was close for lunch. We almost went to get Korean fried chicken, just like last year, but decided to try to do something different and headed into Mandoo Bar for some mandoo (dumplings). The menu sounded good and we could see them making the dumplings in the window, so we were hopeful that they would be good.

To start off the meal, they gave each of us a salad. It was a very simple salad - just lettuce, red cabbage, and carrots with a ginger dressing - but it was refreshing and great for a summer afternoon.

They also dropped off a bowl of cold soy-pickled vegetables, including carrots, pickles, and what seemed to us like turnips. These were pretty good, also very refreshing.

We got 2 orders of mandoo. We weren't sure if that would be enough for lunch but with so many options in the city, we figured we could make a food crawl out of it if they weren't. First to arrive were the kimchee mandoo ($11.50 for 10 pieces), which were steamed dumplings filled with kimchee, tofu, pork, and vegetables.

We also got the combo mandoo plate ($14 for 12 pieces), which was 4 pieces each of the boiled pork, vegetable, and seafood dumplings. The pork ones were the white ones, the vegetables were green, and the seafood were orange. Rather than order any of those separately ($11 for 10 pieces in the case of pork or vegetable, $12 for 10 pieces for seafood), we thought it would be better to try out the combo so we could taste more, especially since we didn't know which would be our favorite.

The dumplings were all pretty good, but even though this is a restaurant that seems to specialize in mandoo by their name, we wouldn't say they're the best dumplings we've ever had. The flavor of the kimchee one was probably our favorite. It had a bit of heat to it from the kimchee, but it wasn't that strong or overwhelming. It just lent a nice flavor to the dumpling. However, the outer skin on that one, especially as the mandoo sat longer, got a bit tough and chewy, making it harder to eat.

From the combo, we liked the flavors of the pork and vegetable ones. Our least favorite dumpling overall was the seafood. It was fine, but the shrimp, crabstick, and vegetable combo inside just tasted a little strange in the dumpling, and we preferred the others. The texture of the combo dumpling wrappers was fantastic, just the right amount of chewiness, and that lasted for as long as it took us to eat them, unlike with the kimchee dumplings.

Overall, we had a nice lunch at Mandoo Bar. If we go back, we think we would want to try the goon mandoo - the pork and vegetable pan-fried dumplings - that we saw them making in the window. Those looked pretty good. We love dumplings and it's nice to have a spot where you can get so many different varieties!

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