Somehow this post slipped through the cracks- N and I went to Mandu about a month ago? I think, and I never put the photos into a post here. Anyway, better late than never, right? We went here mainly because I had purchased a 1/2 price Groupon gift certificate, and neither of us had been here before. It's located in the Dupont Circle area, right down the street from Lauriol Plaza restaurant. I've been to many Korean BBQ places in the past, but I knew that this one was more "city-fied", so I kept my expectations at bay...Meaning, my normal expectations for Korean BBQ is a loud, crowded, smoky, piles of meat and banchan, delicious, cheap meal. Although, I can't really stop myself from comparing it to previous experiences, which you'll see from my comments below.
I got one of their fruit cocktails, and ordered the Pa Jun to start. Pa Jun is a mixed seafood pancake with green onions. These were smaller than I expected (I've usually seen them as one thin plate-sized pancake) but tasted like seafood and onions, pretty much what I expected. They were tasty and hot, but v. greasy - I'd recommend sharing these with a large group.
We got a few small dishes of banchan to share- a mix of mostly pickled and/or spicy veggies and other things. These were tasty and I enjoyed having them with the rest of our food. I have to mention that at other Korean BBQ places I've been, the banchan takes up about 90% of the table, normally I've had about 10-12 dishes at one time...alas, haha.
For my entree I got the Kalbi plate, which is grilled marinated short ribs with rice and mixed vegetables. This plate was ENORMOUS. Pretty much the sizzling platters that Tex-Mex fajitas come on. The bones on the short ribs (hidden under the meat) take up a good majority of the plate, but it was still a lot of food. This was pretty difficult to eat but tasty and marinated well.
These leftovers lasted me for about 2 additional meals. I saved a little bit of everything which was nice to have.
Overall, Mandu is in the "good for what it is" category for me. Meaning, if I lived in DC with no access to a car/suburbs of MD or VA, I'd be happy that a place like Mandu existed, for a quick and tasty Korean food fix. It's a cute little restaurant and seems pretty popular from what I saw. There's a nice variety of dishes on the menu that I'd be happy to try out again. It also seemed to me like it'd be a good "beginner" place to bring someone that has never had Korean food/BBQ before, to get a feel for what flavors they like/don't like prior to them going to a suburban Korean BBQ restaurant. Obviously it helped to have a 1/2 price gift certificate on this trip, but I'd recommend it for some after-work drinks and some tasty Korean food if you're in the area.