Saturday, June 17, 2006
Taste test: Manna Korean BBQ
Manna is an assault on the senses. Rows and rows of cafeteria-style tables are filled with large parties of mostly young people; more sedate foursomes sit on a higher level with a faux South Seas rocky backdrop.
Every so often, the discoish music is cranked up higher and a waiter appears to pop open a bottle of champagne for someone's birthday, letting it cascade onto the grilled meat. Although the patio is theoretically open air, it's covered by a plastic cover that holds in the smoke from the (gas) barbecues, and things get pretty steamy with about a hundred people grilling vast quantities of beef simultaneously.
Add this to the experience of meeting a bunch of food bloggers including Rosie (in photo) from ColleenCuisine (Colleen is her middle name), Pam from DailyGluttony, Eddie from Deep End Dining, Dylan from Eat, Drink and Be Merry, and Jonah from LA.Foodblogging, and it's a lot to take in all at once.
Although I had tried Chosun Galbi across the street, which offers a nice, civilized barbecue experience, this was a whole different kettle of kalbi, but it was definitely more fun and a bit tastier as well.
For this time, I was shown how to peel off thin sheets of rice noodle wrapper and layer my perfectly-grilled beef with lettuce, bean paste, chili paste, dip it into the oil and salt and soy dips, and pop it into my mouth. Grill, wrap, pop, glass of Hite beer, grill, wrap, pop, glass of Hite beer... you get the idea, but I might have repeated this process just a few too many times.
It's hard to be reasonable though, with Manna's $14.95 set meal which features an endless platter of sliced brisket, boneless shortribs, mushrooms, onions and jalapenos. We tried some chicken too, but the shortribs were the star. Patience is key though...as my Nerve profile once said, "Instant gratification is sexy; delayed gratification is sexier." The same applies to grilling, as this type of meat is meant to be eaten well-cooked, with carmelly bits clinging here and there, not rare.
Manna Korean Cuisine
3377 W. Olympic Blvd.