Mandu, a Korean restaurant, is a newcomer to City Vista but not to DC. Since 2006, Chef Yesoon Lee and her kids Jean and Danny, have been serving their brand of traditional Korean dishes to 18th street crowds near Dupont. They expanded the family business to City Vista earlier this year.
The atmosphere is clean, bright, and a bit quirky with lots of green flying ducks on the wall. A wall of Korean memory boxes separates the bar and dining room areas.
We stopped in to try Mandu out for lunch, and started the same way I've started any Korean meal I've ever had: with dumplings. Mandu serves them up in sets of 6 and lets you mix and match shrimp, pork, beef, or veggie. We liked the shrimp best, but all were packed with flavor and not with grease.
One of my favorite parts of Korean dining is the banchan, or small plates of yumminess that are served complimentary with each meal. Sometimes I don't know exactly what I'm eating, but I like it!
While dumplings and banchan are fun, the real party is in the hot stone bowl of bibim bap. For the uninitiated (or those who missed our posts on the Bulgogi Cart or Yechon), bibim bap is a mix of rice, veggies, an egg, and some sort of meat or tofu often served in a hot stone bowl. The stone bowl cooks the egg and if you're lucky, gives the rice a fun crispy texture. Mandu's version was packed with fresh veggies and top notch ingredients, but the rice never got crispy. It was very good, just not the crispity crunchity ricey fun I love so much.
B said he'd be happy ordering any of the items on the menu so I ordered him the chap chae: stir fried clear potato noodles with vegetables and beef. I don't know how you make a potato noodle but I do know that this large portion vanished quickly. Chap chae, we will be back.
If you've got a thing for duck decor or you want to try authentic and fresh Korean food, get thee to Mandu.
Second Thoughts from B
I think my wife's exuberance for quality Korean food has turned her into Fezzik from the Princess Bride (to be very clear, I'm talking about the rhyming part and not the Andre the Giant part of the character). After all, she has a great gift for rhyme (yes, yes, some of the time). Let me join the fun:
If you crave sweet and savory Korean beef... Mandu can provide culinary relief.
If you like noodles clear and fat... Mandu will provide plenty of that.
Those dumplings were haute and hot... But from Appalachian St. they were not. (this will only make sense after viewing this hilariously bad and dangerously catchy promo for the school)
J craves bowls of crispy rice... followers of this blog will have heard it now thrice.
Mandu spices made our mouths burn... for these flavors we'll definitely return.
(No more rhymes now, I mean it! Anybody want a peanut?)