In Korea last week it was Chuseok. I usually went out of town while I was in Gyeongju because everyone would go to their home town, which for many is in the country side. My friend and I decided to get some nice authentic Korean food. If we were going to do Chuseok, we were going to do it proper.
Our first attempt resulted in complete failure. If it was a mark on your 10 page essay you were writing for 7 days, it would be a -48/100. In short, the place was recommended by a friend, I went and hated it, and left. You can read the review of Arirang BBQ here.
Luckily I’ve been to Mandoo Hyang a few times before and used it as a backup for the night’s feast.
Mandoo Hyang is in a small little plaza next to a K-bar and Norebang (Karaoke). Walking in you’ll notice the nice wood theme. White walls with brown wood flooring and tables bring me to the country side. It’s decorated with some paintings, flowers, and large bottles of rice wine (Makgeolli). More than anything, the bottles of rice wine really make me feel like I’m in the country side. They are ridiculously large, and remind me of the amount of alcohol the country people drink. I can just imagine it now, a bunch of ahjussis coming from a long day at work, arriving at 3pm and starting to drink. I’m exaggerating a bit, but not by much.
To the left is seating for larger groups and if you’re here with a few people you’ll probably be sitting to the right. I’ve only ever been seated to the right and can’t exactly tell you what the group area looks like. They do have floor seating as well. If you can sit crossed legged for a long period of time, why not try it out? Just remember to take your shoes off first. I actually like sitting on the floor. It’s quite comfortable and feels like home, but for whatever reason, elementary school didn’t prepare me enough for floor sitting and so I just sit on a chair.
I’ll remind you again that this is a restaurant, so it’s quieter, and a nice place to have a drink while eating. You won’t find a large rowdy bunch and it’s actually quite welcoming.
Food & Drinks
The food here is great! Each time I’ve gone it has tasted how it should, or at least very close to how it should taste. You can get almost anything here. They have English and pictures on the menu so you’ll know exactly what you’re ordering.
We needed a whole lot of food to fill us up for this night. Luckily I can read Korean and found the Kimchi three layered pork combo (김치 삼겹살 콤보). It’s in the back of the menu in the combo section, and only in Korean. I guess you’ll need a Korean speaker or just point to a random item to get the best deals. The combo includes a main dish and 1 bottle of soju or 5 bottles of beer for about $25-$30. Considering soju at bars and restaurants is $12, this is quite a steal. The kimchi samgyeopsal would be good for 2-3 people but because we were so hungry we ordered the kimchi stew for $7. We had a lot of kimchi on the table.
The soju came first, and it’s the only brand they carry, chum-churum rich. It’s a variation of chum-churum original and a little stronger. If you’d like to know what I think of the original you can read it here.
The side dishes followed closely after, and they are nothing special. You have kimchi, kimchi, and more kimchi. They are actually variations of kimchi, for example one of them was actually pickled radish. I don’t know what vegetable the other was.
Then the main dish came. The one we’ve been waiting for the whole night. The samgyeopsal looked perfectly pink, cut to the right thickness, and decorated with kimchi on top. If you’ve never had hot kimchi I suggest you go right now! You can’t imagine how excited I was for that kimchi. It’s hot, spicy, and a little tangy. Mix that in with the samgyeopsal and you have perfection! I should add that the fat content on the meat was just the right amount. Not too much and not too little, definitely a higher grade of meat than in the grocery stores.
We cooked it ourselves so it was awesome, but one of the staff came by because they thought I didn’t know what I was doing and cooked a bit of it as well. Just remember to turn the heat to low once it’s done so you don’t burn it. Common sense.
The kimchi stew helped to counter the fat and oiliness in the meat. It was hot, tangy and just the right amount of spice. It acted as a good chaser to the soju, as it’s strong enough to mask the taste. The soju was good to cut the oil from the meat. So in the end, everything came together to make a perfect meal.
If you’re in Mississauga, come here and don’t go anywhere else. This is as real as it gets.