Keeping track of the yummy food options on the way to City Vista has been exciting. It's enough to make us wish that we owned in the area rather than renting. How can we be expected to leave this glorious bounty of food possibilities?
When we first moved into the area, Kushi had just opened up. Now, Mandu's here and Ray's Hellburger and Chipotle are on the way (okay, Chipotle is a bit less exciting because there's one by Chinatown already.
It's approximately a fifteen minute walk from one to the other. Really, couldn't we have gotten a Chick-Fil-A or something?).
Since one of us is Korean, we were more than a little excited to get a Korean restaurant within walking distance. When it comes to ethnic food, I have to disclose my theory that the flavor punch of the food will generally take a hit when you start catering to the general public. Mandu, with its sojutinis, happy hour promotions, and tasteful decor, seems to fall into the "catering to the general public" category. Unfortunately for us, in Mandu's case, I believe that the theory holds pretty true.
If you are not a die-hard Korean fan (we both are), then you will probably be very satisfied with Mandu. The food is pretty tasty. In our visits, we've tried the dolsot bibim bap, yookge jang, kimchi jigae, fried beef and pork mandu, ohjinguh bokum, and ho dduk for dessert. The highlights were the fried mandu that were nice and crispy on the outside, juicy, and stuffed with meat on the inside. The inside lacked seasoning, which was mainly alleviated by the dipping sauce. The ohjinguh bokum used a nice tasting squid, a tad overcooked, sauteed in a nice spicy sauce.
The rest of it was okay, though the yookge jang, normally a rich and flavorful soup, felt a pretty lackluster. The kimchi jigae tasted right, but lacked a certain body. The dolsot bibim bap was fine and so was the ho dduk. Don't get me wrong, Mandu clearly uses fresh ingredients and puts together a fine and tasty dinner, but this is not a place that will give you the unabashed flavor hit of Korean cooking; it feels like the kitchen is a bit restrained.
I would wholeheartedly recommend Mandu to anyone who loves food and wants to try something a little different, to someone not too familiar with Korean food. But, for those of us who love the real thing, it just doesn't satisfy the Korean craving.
453 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001