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Madangsui -- Korean BBQ

Just wanted to report that I finally tried Madangsui on 35th Street. It was indeed one of the better BBQs I've had. As I've been under the weather the last few days, I only had one mango the entire day -- was not just very hungry. Thought that some Korean food would be the cure for my cold. So I left work around 8P and made my way there.

It was really packed -- Koreans and nonKoreans. We had to wait for half an hour for a table. Well, as soon as we got seated, we got our food pretty quickly. Service was incredibly friendly and efficient. They were extremely apologetic for the long wait. The hostess was very nice -- perhaps a bit too nice as she couldn't stop with the compliments (I think it's a Korean thing). It just makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.

We ordered the haemul pajun and one order of the plain kalbi and one order of the marinated kalbi. The pajun was good, though it looked nothing like the plastic replica in the front. It was on the smaller side compared to most restaurants. But the two of us could only make a dent in it. I was a bit disappointed when I saw the gas grills as their website says natural wood grilled bbq. Maybe the Fort Lee location has the wood? But the quality of the meat definitely made up for the gas grill. Well marbled and very tasty. We preferred the plain over the marinated which surprised me. I always love a good yang-nyum. Portions were huge as well.

Banchan was very plentiful and good. I think I loved every single one which is strange for me as I always find a couple of duds. From my memory, we had plain kimchee, spinach, dried squid, dried anchovies, pickled daikon radish, spiced pan-fried tofu, Korean salad, salad with "Japanese" ginger dressing, and probably a couple more that I can't remember at this point. They also gave us steamed egg custard and the spicy tofu soup which was a nice touch. You don't always get those types of banchan at Korean restaurants. Something I found strange was that there was no spicy kimchee -- only one nonspicy one. But it was prepared perfectly. Generally not a fan of most Korean restaurant kimchee as they're generally either under or overfermented (with the exception of Gam Mi Ok which I find always perfect). Another odd thing was we didn't get rice. I noticed that other tables didn't get rice either unless you asked. We didn't ask as the rice probably would have filled us up too much. We wanted to make room for the meat. But from all of the Korean restaurants I've been to (excluding noodle joints, etc.) this is the first time we never automatically got rice.

Well, I still have my cold after the wonderful meal. But I feel better psychologically after the wonderful meal. A real great addition to K-town. If you like BBQ, this is the place for you. Now if only they had real wood ...

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  1. Great review. I love Korean food and will have to give this one a try. Thanks and feel better.

    13 Replies
    1. re: nativeNYer

      Thanks. Feel a bit better already. I'll bet it was the great Korean food. Please do go and report back.

      1. re: Miss Needle

        will do. i can taste the hot pepper paste already!

        1. re: Miss Needle

          glad you liked it, ive been the cheerleader for this place b/c i think its much better than the other bbq places (its also reasonably nice for a korean restaurant)

          supposedly they're switching to wood chips, but we'll see if that happens or not

          1. re: Lau

            Actually, it was your review which tipped me to the place. Thanks a lot, Lau!

            If they do switch to wood, I think I'll be there a lot more often.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              oh cool then glad my review led you there

              yeah i really hope they switch to wood chips as well, i think that would awesome

              btw agree with you on kimchee, but its b/c most of them get it from somewhere else, but i believe that gam me oak makes their own (the gak du gee is awesome as well)

              1. re: Lau

                You're right about the gak du ki, as I generally don't like it at more places but enjoy it at Gam Mi Ok. Kum Gang San actually did a pretty decent (though non traditional -- tons of sesame oil and much sweeter than normal) kimchee before they switched to the lacto-bacillus healthy kimchee which tastes it way too sour for my taste with hardly any bite. I wish Gam Mi Ok would sell its kimchee. Hate the stuff at the store on 32nd Street and too lazy to make my own.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  if u find a place to buy great kimchi let me know (luckily i periodically get some from my gf's mom who makes amazing kimchi and basically amazing anything korean)

                  i wonder if there is a kimchi store in flushing or fort lee / pali park. back at home in CA, there is a store that i used to go to that only sold kimchi (a huge variety) and it was pretty good

                  1. re: Lau

                    Lau, have you been to the Korean supermarket in the Assis Plaza on 39th Ave all the way down hill past College Point ave? In the back of the store, (straight in to the back then to your right) there are huge vats and vats of kimchee and other marinated goods. Sometimes I walk in and there's tastings so you can try. There's also a small section to sit down and eat.

                    Back to Manhattan...I was wondering if Madangsui is reasonably priced? In Manhattan's Korea town I can't seem to get the same type of say, L.A. Galbi that's medium thin, cut up, marinated and under $15. In fact, one of the places I went to charged $24 for their Galbi , and was not the same type, but was so tough that it was inedible.

                    Is L.A. Galbi something you only get at a soft dofu place? I'm a little puzzled.

                    10yrresident's mention of short ribs sound really good, though, especially that it's fatty.....

                    1. re: HLing

                      i have been to that Assi Plaza in Flushing (i love Assi probably b/c the one in LA is the best and cheapest korean mkt in LA)...i didnt think about that, but ure right there is a large kimchi section that is probably worth trying

                      Ma Dang Sui is expensive just like every other restaurant in manhattan ktown, i never really understood this although it might have to do with the location and rent expense...its funny b/c in LA the bbq is often time alot better and cheaper (beggars cant be choosers!). The difference is that the bbq is actually good vs most other ktown places where ure paying alot for mediocre bbq

                      I believe LA Galbi simply refers to the cut of beef b/c when immigrants moved to the US the US butcheries cut the beef different than the cuts you would use in korea for bbq

                      1. re: HLing

                        Lau, you're lucky that your GF's mom gives you kimchee. There's nothing better than homemade.

                        HLing, an order of Madangsui's kalbi is about $24 or 25, perhaps a dollar or two more than other places. But the portions are much larger with higher quality meat. I think the term LA kalbi originated in LA where the meat is cut slightly differently giving it a different texture and flavor. My preference is for traditional style. I don't think it's always associated with soon tofu places. Just maybe in NY. Korean trends generally come to NY via the way of LA -- like Pinkberry. The rice noodle wrappers with Korean BBQ hit LA before it hit NY. And Korean food is generally cheaper and better in LA than NYC. I'll bet it has a lot to do with competition. K-town is humongous out there.

                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          yeah definitely count my blessings on that one...agree with the both the quantity and quality comments

                          i do like the rice wrappers, but they make u get full pretty quickly, i cant remember if madangsui gives u them or not

                          its funny b/c there are like 4 or 5 ktowns that are pretty big in LA now

                          1. re: Lau

                            We didn't receive rice wrappers. Did you automatically get rice with your meal, Lau?

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              i think they did, but i remember thinking the bbq was good enough, so i just ate it by itself generally

        2. This place is indeed a good addition to the area. I do not do the BBQ thing so much at Korean places anymore, so I had a beef mandoo soup and some marinated short ribs. The soup was excellent. The downside with the short ribs: too fatty. The upside: delicious flavor. I also agree that the banchan was a cut above! I would definitely go back when in the area.