Recap MoKoMandy ChowMeet 6/11/13. Well worth the visit. Definitely worth a repeat.
- Kris in Beijing Jun 13, 2013 05:24 AM
In the final analysis—go, Go, GO.
Everything was great, much was fantastic.
Don’t let traditional dish names or appearances sway your enjoyment of some slightly nontraditional flavours.
6 ‘Hounds were able to meet on Tuesday 6/11/13 for dinner; 2 couples plus TeenHound and me. Three people had spent significant time in New Orleans and two had lived in Korea, so we had a certain level of culinary expectation.
MoKoMandy fulfilled them all.
Setting—much like a bistro, probably seats ~40 [maaaaybe 60 crammed in?]. A glass and bamboo look without a cold tech feel. Kitchen is slightly visible through a wide open pass. Although tables are pretty close, high ceilings and full widows add a lightness to the atmosphere.
Waitstaff—solid, cheerful, energized. Gave a history of the restaurant origin and detailed the menu. Our water glasses were continuously yet surreptitiously refilled.
How we ate—when each dish arrived, we just passed them around the table. Therefore, everyone took a section or half an item. About halfway into dinner, TeenHound and I were contemplating drive-thru afterwards because we felt we weren’t getting that much food. However, by the time we’d consumed all our bits and bites of everything, we felt like gorged boa constrictors wending our way across the parking lot to the car. An hour later, we felt FULLER [so no “Chinese food” effect] and despaired that last beignet.
As a group, we ordered the following:
SNACKS & SIDES ($$3 each OR 3 for $7)
Spicy Kimchi – the balanced kind that was cold, crisp, and had a sour/fermented tang underlying the spice
Purple Rice—probably the least successful, as it was very firm, like a brown rice, instead of the anticipated “Korean Breakfast rice” style which is soft and nearly gooey.
Kimchi Pancakes—we even ordered a second round of these; they were much like a crisp with a little shredded kimchi, served with a light soy dipping sauce
Cracklins—came to us hot and light but not greasy. Don’t know how they’d be at room temp—they didn’t last that long!
Fried Kale Chips—these were a bit greasy, but also hot, airy, and nicely crispy. Some folks wanted a touch more salt.
Deviled Eggs--bacon, house spice blend ($5)
Perfect mouthful bites. We were reminded of pimiento cheese, in a good way.
Korean Potroast sliders--kimchi’d apples, radish sprouts, fried steamed buns ($10)
Very popular. Potroast was the “pulled” style. The buns were possibly potato bread.
Foie Gras Dumplings--braised duck, sesame, radishes, house-made plum sauce ($13)
Stunning. Just incredible. Made in the “beggar’s purse” shape and absolutely full of the foie filling. Everyone’s first reaction was an incredulous “WOW!!”
Bulgogi Beef--julienned petite-filet, soy marinade, laver, purple rice, white rice, black garlic, banchan ($14)
Another absolute favourite. The marinade was caramelized onto the meat; the pieces were not the more traditional super-thin bulgogi style but more substantial [not chewy though] stripes of delectable meat.
Wild Boar Bowl--fried egg, braised wild boar, pork-kimchi, rice, korean accoutrement, kochujang, laver ($12)
Came in a DolSot-style bowl, which was not superheated. Looked like a BiBimBap but had a slightly different flavor and spice mix; excellent but not quite traditional
Shrimp Étoufée--shrimp, rice, trinity, butter, shrimp chips, house spice blend ($14)
TeenHound thought this looked like a Thai dish. Former denizens of NO thought it wasn’t a “real” étoufée—the sauce was quite good but this dish possibly was the weakest just because the name generated expectations of a particular dish. The shrimp was cooked to perfection.
Modern Korean Scallops-- glazed sweet potato, pea puree, sake bok choy, kochu mayonnaise, herb-orange essence ($20)
Oi. Perfect scallops, each sitting on a sweet potato chip/pancake that was, by itself, also superb.
Crème brûlée with vanilla and lavender cream. Perfectly sealed hard caramelized top with a solid yet fluffy center. Not overly rich but maybe a little heavy after a tapas/bites meal.
Beignet, 2 orders. Hot, light, fluffy, not perfectly traditional but definitely much better than just acceptable. Each plate came with 4 “schmeers” of decorative sauce, which weren’t really enough. The two previous MoKoMandy diners in our party said that their first time, the beignets had come with small bowls of dipping sauce. Contrarily, when in the end we needed to box a few to go, we were offered a small container of “our favourite sauce.”
Excellent job, Kris!
I'll just add a dessert that we also had: chicory pudding, chocolate sauce, cane syrup salted caramels, croquant, fresh cream. Loved it - creamy and not sweet, varied flavors and textures.
It was a truly tasty meal. I thought the service was fantastic, btw. Didn't really give it much thought until now (which says something) but they seemed there when we needed them and certainly didn't push us while we were all pondering in the beginning.
Great company, too. My husband and I both commented that TeenHound was delightful! (And one doesn't often see "delightful" and "teen" in the same sentence, ha ha).
Thanks again for organizing.
Gosh - I have been meaning to eat here for a long time. But you have made this a must eat destination!
Thanks for the great recap!!
We managed to miss you that evening, though in retrospect, we might have seen you all sitting down and going over the menu together.
For dishes you did not have:
As small dishes:
We had the gumbo, which was generous with the shrimp. My chowpup was particularly taken with the rice in that.
We also enjoyed the very thick jambalaya, was studded with thin sausage slices.
The ssam came as lettuce cups, full of purple rice and topped with the meat of your choice. I found them more awkward to eat than roll-your-own ssam, and I would have preferred the assortment of wrapping greens/herbs that are the traditional accompaniment for ssam. But the combo was tasty.
The chowpup ordered the softshell sandwich. They did a nice job of not overbreading the very large crab.
The beer list is a full page, thoughtfully arranged from lighter to heavier flavors.
Caution to all: We live nearby and reservations can be necessary, even on a weekday evening. We've been turned away at the door a couple of times prior to 7 pm!
We had a really good meal at MoKoMandy last night. Pretty much what you and Polly wrote was spot on.
Snacks and Sides: Kimchi pancakes (really good), fava "nuts" (really good, just finished the last of them), fried kale chips (a bit too oily, but very tasty), cracklins (really good).
Note: Other than the fried kale chips, these snacks are all fairly spicy, so I ended up eating almost all of them myself.
Small plates: Chicken Ssam (very good, somewhat spicy -- I think the purple rice at the bottom of the cup is where they hide the heat); deviled eggs (really, really good, and I am a deviled egg aficionado from way back); jambalaya (very good, but by the time I got it I was stuffed so I just had a few bites and the rest will be tomorrow's lunch)
Medium: Softshell crab sandwich (really good -- Mrs W is from Baltimore and loves her some softshells; she heartily approved of this one, it was quite large and not overbreaded)
Large: Chap chae -- a massive hit with the entire family; perfect size for sharing
Kid's meals: House made pasta with cheese (really good), chicken tenders and fries (very good), and the surprise hit of the evening, "fruit, cream, and caramel" -- for $3 you get a beautiful of sliced apples, mandarins, whipped cream, and caramel. Was so good that daughter got one of her own, which came out with the food arrayed in a completely different geometric pattern on the plate.
Dessert: Beignets -- really good. We got five instead of the promised four. The raspberry and chocolate sauces were the favorites. Brought back good memories of CDM.
Service: Competent and friendly.
Space: very attractive
Verdict: Four thumbs up from the W crew!
Six of us followed up with a dinner at Mokomandy, which is short for Modern Korean Mandy (the chef’s mom.).
We order snacks of cucumber salad, kimchi pancakes, jalapeno hushpuppies, and kale chips, small plates of foie gras dumplings, grilled oysters, and rabbit meat pies, medium plates of bulgogi, housemade noodles, and wild boar bowl, and a large plate called karnivore ssam.
There was one all-out highlight: the foie gras dumplings. Expertly prepared with a burnt, caramelized top. Five stars.
There were some disappointments: kimchi pancakes were served like potato chips, but not as large and less tasty. Cucumber salad was weak. The grilled oysters “Drago” were nothing like the famous place in New Orleans, and a waste of money.
In between those, there were a lot of really good dishes that showed flair and a skilled kitchen. I particularly liked the jalapeno hushpuppies.
All the Korean food was very good but had some extra sweetness added compared to traditional Korean which made it less exciting. The exception was the wild boar bowl, their version of bibimbap.
This is a very good place. There is a pop culture food show on Mnet (the Korean pop channel) called “Tasty Road.” The food here looks a lot like what the Seoul pop stars eat on that show. I don’t think I would ever crave it the way I crave traditional Korean, but if you want to feel like a pop star in Korea then this is the place to be.
I totally felt like a K-pop star the whole time we were there, for sure!
Loved the write up.
The foie gras dumplings were amazing.
I agree about the bulgogi and karnivore ssam. I generally do find Korean food to be sweet, but it sweet with a complex combination of other strong flavors like garlic, green onions, soy sauce, roasted sesame oil, red chile, briny and fermented flavors, and so on...the meat we had was pretty much just sweet-soy tasting, lacked everything I love about Korean food. But it was still a good meal and some place I would consider for a fancy dinner out or a birthday meal or something (plates of foie gras dumplings!).
I dream about the foie gras dumplings, so I'm not surprised that those came out on top.
We really need to get back there one of these days, but between them not offering the dumplings during their weekend brunch, and it being quite a haul, it just hasn't happened.
Thanks for the report.