Mandoo Bar | 2 West 32nd St. (bet. 5th Ave. & B'way) | 212.279.3075 | On MenuPages

AFTER A SOMEWHAT disappointing visit last week to supposedly popular KyoChon Chicken, I had vowed to myself that, that visit being my first visit to Koreatown (at least, to eat) I would have to return to enjoy something—anything!—much more authentic.

I was fortunate enough last week to have some time before KyoChon's soft open to stroll down West 32nd, effectively Korea Street, to snap some photos of some of the other, more innocuously situated and designed Korean restaurant, including a shot of two women who seemed to be hand-making fresh dumplings that I posted to my photo site.

I couldn't make out the name of the place in that particular photo,lucky enough I had another picture of the outside, saw that the place was called Mandoo Bar, read a "Critic's Pick" review of their Kimchee Mandoo (Dumplings), and zipped down there this afternoon to try these handmade, kimchi-stuffed Korean dumplings myself.

The space is obviously vary aware of presentation, as the outside, aquarium-esque front window allow passerby to appreciate the clean, ulitarian kitchen, while the restaurant's interior is homey,and remarkably both modern and traditional.

The menu is simple, with most plates running from $4 appetizers and soups to $4–$10 salads—including Korean staple bimimpop, served in a hot-stone bowl!—to $10 stews and noodle dishes to mostly $14 special dishes (including bulgogi which is thin-sliced, marinated prime beef.

But I was there for the kimchee mandoo dish (10 for $10), which I preceded with the $5.50 pork mandoo (and was even fortunate enough to watch them make to order).

Very impressive all around! The sizeable pork mandoo had a great crisp to its skin, which gave way to a nice, tasty, clean dough, sturdy yet malleable, and firm without being tough. The filling, again, made in-house, was fresh and flavorful. The pork being flecked with subtle spicing while maintaining their "porkiness" and not overly salted, all of it rounded out by the sweet, aromatic, slightly pungeant hints of the fresh-chopped green scallion.

The steamed kimchee mandoo—almost more than a meal on its own with its 10-count—wrapped the same supple thin-ish dough around explosive mouthfuls of coarsely chopped kimchee, making sure my mouth enjoyed the textures of Korea's signature food—with its crisp vegetables—as well is the bright, layered flavors and heat, nicely addressing the sweet, salty, sour, acid detectors of my entire tongue, the back of my mouth, and up again through the nose.

When I started, I had planned to save at least a few to take home, but I was having way to much fun eating these and I didn't want that fun to stop. Along with the great, friendly service, comforting ambient music—somehow they were playing a trance music version of Jay-Z's Empire State of Mind!—and the foreign dialogue chatter of the mostly Korean other customers, it was hard not to want to wallow in this more authentic eating experience. (I realize that Jay-Z is not Korean, but you get the point....)

There was hardly enough room for dessert, which they don't serve anyway, except, I realized when I got the check, in paper form....

Bun Apple Tea!


Mandoo Bar on Urbanspoon

Mandoo Bar | 2 West 32nd St. (bet. 5th Ave. & B'way) | 212.279.3075 | On MenuPages