eat. shop. love. nyc.


Bo ssam at Mandu DC

David Chang has a lock on the big feast format of Korean dining, and bless him for all of his family-style Korean fried chicken and bo ssam (pork shoulder/butt lettuce wraps) dinners at Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momofuku Ssam Bar.

But what about those of us who can’t find 6 to 10 like-minded diners? What then? Should we be denied our bo ssam?

Enter: Mandu DC. See how amazing this bo ssam platter looks? They use pork belly and chill it so that the meat is firm to the touch but fork tender, and the fat (largely trimmed) has a pleasant coolness and easy chewiness. The bo ssam platter comes with lettuce leaves (sangchu) for wrapping, spicy pickled daikon radish for a zesty crunchy topping, and ssamjang (wrap dip) for sweetness, spice, and a little funk (from the fermented bean). It’s a truly refreshing summer meal, especially when eaten outdoors on Mandu’s cute little patio.

On the corner of 18th and S in Northwest DC, just off-center from the craziness that is Adams Morgan, Mandu is a lovely gem of a Korean restaurant, perhaps the only of its kind within the city limits. The food here has a home-cooked feel, but with attention to presentation, ambiance, and all of the other things you don’t usually find at Korean restaurants in the States. Sure, there’s great Korean food to be had in Annandale, but then you’d have to find your way out to Virginia, and you wouldn’t even get to have an aloetini! Aloe juice + aloe pulp + soju = delicious x drunk. You do the math.

On weekends, Mandu has an $11.00 Korean Brunch Plate with gimbap (Korean rice & seaweed rolls – like sushi rolls without any fish), Korean omelet, chive pancakes, Korean-style hash browns, and a choice of marinated beef, chicken, pork or vegetables and tofu, all with a side of fruit. They have $4.00 Sojutinis and $4.00 Soju Bloody Marys to boot!

The Mandu Bloody Mary is made with soju, Clamato, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, sriracha, and a cucumber kimchi garnish. It is not for the spice averse, but it will cure your hangover. I felt AWESOME after drinking mine!

Not to be missed at Mandu: the mandu (dumplings) – 6 pieces for $5, the bo ssam – $13 for the platter shown above, the dak jjim (sweet and spicy chicken simmered with potatoes & onions, served with rice), aloetini, Mandu Bloody Mary.

And it gets better… there’s a happy hour! Daily 4-7pm: $4.00 Sojutinis, $4.00 liquor drinks, $2.00 beers, $3.00 mandu (dumplings).

Eat: Mandu (Adams Morgan, NW Washington DC) 1805 18th St. at S St., Washington, D.C. NW (202) 558-1540. Follow mandudc on Twitter.

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