‘ MAN DO’ EAT HERE
A KOREAN DUMPLING, NOODLE AND CHICKEN BAR, OPEN FROM BRUNCH THROUGH TO LATE SUPPER, HAS ALL THE OPTIONS COVERED
If you are the kind of person who likes things done “just so”; if you have a touch of OCD, turn the page now. If, however, you’re adventurous, enjoy going with the flow when travelling, eating at little roadside stalls to taste the authentic flavours of your host country and aren’t scared when there’s no sign of a starched linen tablecloth, read on and salivate.
I will admit, once seated at Mando, I begin to have reservations.
Suffice to say, I could suggest a few improvements.
The cushion I am sitting on has seen better days and we’re squished at the rear of this tiny shop, right next to the kitchen.
There are soft drink cartons littered about, piles of empty bamboo steam baskets and tatty bits of ornamentation including an especially inappropriate stuffed reindeer head mounted on the facing wall.
Intuition tells me the food here is going to be good. I’ve looked in before and seen people feasting on mountains of chicken, sleeves rolled up and satisfied expressions on their well-fed faces.
It’s not the sort of place you’d choose on appearances and yet, there are always diners seated at the pavement tables.
“It has to have something going for it,” you think to yourself. And it does – lots. On entering, we walk past a front counter, only instead of someone serving, there’s a chef up to his elbows in flour, thumping a rolling pin on the bench.
Minutes later he whizzes past with handfuls of noodles.
They’re made on the spot to order, you can’t get fresher than that.
We discover the specialty here, kalguksu, is handmade noodle soup. Along with the handmade mando, which are little dumplings stuffed with a choice of fillings.
We try the minced beef and pork mixed with cabbage, onion, spring onion, garlic and ginger mando and the vegetable (tofu cabbage, pumpkin, carrot and garlic) mando, which are green, as they’re made from spinach pastry.
There’s even kimchi-filled mando. You can have them steamed, pan fried or deep fried. Ours are steamed and we dip them in soy and chilli sauces.
We have also ordered seafood tofu soup (a spicy stock with tiger prawn, baby octopus, mussels, soft tofu, bean sprout, spring onion and enoki mushrooms (it’s supposed to have a cracked egg in it, but I have requested they leave it out); and a seafood kalguksu that bears similar floating ingredients, but a totally different stock. This one is lusciously peppery and filled with those fabulous al dente knife-cut noodles.
Both are big piping hot bowls of healthgiving goodness. Mine comes with side serves of steamed rice and kimchi.
And because we had no idea just how much food we were in for, we’ve ordered a volcano chicken to share, a whole chicken boned and cut into bite-sized pieces tossed in spicy seasoned flour and deep fried. It is served with chips. The chicken might be a little bit naughty, but it’s sticky, sweet and perfectly piquant.
You can order mild , spicy, death by spicy or “x100”.
As it’s a first, we go for mild.
This fried chicken is delightfully sinful, but well worth it.
Everything lands on the table sizzling, steaming, straight from the wok to you and too hot to handle. It means you’re tantalised as you wait for it to cool.
Verdict: Lunch, dinner or snack, it’s a winner.