The thing about new Korean BBQ restaurants – it is said that they offer more(in their servings to entice new customers), smell nicer(since they don’t have the stench in the walls), and less crowded(till they get hyped up). But there is also a risk in being guinea pigs at an unknown restaurant. I like the idea of trying newly open places, but I also know that it may backfire with crappy food. But in most cases, since I am pretty flexible and hard to let down(foodwise), I am easy to please.
We were pleasantly surprised with the selection of Man Soo. Once you walk in the clean new establishment, you notice that it is a bit sparse. Undeterred, we sat down and ordered, since our stomachs influenced decision to stay. The Man Soo Gui – the boneless short ribs(kalbi) and the rib eye steak were on full page spreads in the menu – which we both ordered. The kalbi was their “most popular” meat dish – which was featured in full color on one page. Then, as you flip the page, you’ll see the rib eye steak – in all its full page glory. Once we got our raw meat, the round recessed iron cooking pan started to sear the meat fast. The waitress suggested, in its customary fashion, to add the bean sprouts as it is just about finished cooking – to be eaten together. With only 2 orders of meat – it was plenty for the 6 of us. I enjoyed the rib eye steak much more than the short ribs, as did my 5 other cohorts. The rib eye had a nice marbling with the proper fat content. The fat maintained the right texture as well as provided excellent flavor with each bite. I’m not “shorting” the short ribs, but it was a bit of a disappointment, coupled with the expectations from the menu and compared to the rib eye steak.
With the standard salt and salt with oil sauce, we were also given a nutty (sort of peanut) sauce. This nutty sauce was, in my humble opinion (IMHO), the hit of the night. Look for this sauce in the bowl that’s just a little bit bigger than the others.
One other thing I wanted to mention, was the grilled octopus. Already grilled and cooked, it arrives with a waitress snipping off bite size tentacles. With the sauce, and I emphasize WITH the sauce, the octopus was quite scrumptious. I rarely order octopus – except for a Tako Sunomono, but today’s was an exception. The grilled octopus is a complimentary dish for the BBQ. I last saw the complimentary octopus from Honey Pig, as well – perhaps its a custom or a trend.
And another nice bonus, the self serve panchan. The idea of getting your own panchan is a fun event in itself. Though at almost all Korean restaurants, panchan is complimentary and is never-ending. This concept, allows you to get what you want, at what quantity. There’s also the idea of not wasting what you don’t want. I think people will like idea. But you’d think we’d be picky and only select a couple items, but in fact, we almost got a small dish of everything. I know the egg/potato salad was quite popular. I know I enjoyed the kimchi.
Lastly, I must mention about the end of the grill selection – of either soy-bean paste porridge (Doenjang Juk) or stir fried rice with diced radish kimchi (Bokkeumbab). I wanted the porridge, but I was quickly overruled. Even the waitress suggest the Bokkembab. The presentation, which is similar to that from Honey Pig, starts with a clean grill bowl. But I would have thought they would have used our old bowl with the burned crispy goodness. But anyways, they pour in the radish kimchi soupy mixture, then dump in two bowls of white rice. They let it simmer and cook, then add in the dried seaweed to finish it off. Interesting but almost a let down, till we chopped into it. We almost forgot about the burnt rice texture at the bottom – which Chinese Fried Rice lacks. Anyways. . . I am going to push for the porridge next time.
We all agreed, at the end of the night, that we had to bow down to Miss C’s roulette of restaurant choice. This is a great place for a group of friends.