Mandangsui: My Intro to Korean BBQ Delight

ONE: There are supposed to be as many plates on the table as possible. Start stacking.

TWO: “It doesn’t really matter how you hold your chopsticks as long as you get the food in your mouth.”

THREE: “Are you still hungry? Good. Because we’re going to just keep refilling your plate.”

There are, as far as I can tell, only upsides to going to a new place with people who know what they are doing there. If I had entered Mandangsui, this plain-to-the-eyes-but-fancy-up-the-nose Korean barbeque hall by myself, I would have left unfulfilled. Friends are for introducing you to your weak points and getting the muscles working…and so this New Yorker entered Ktown for the first time for a Chinese friend’s birthday party: a fish in better waters, with excellent big fishy guides, for sure (the analogy just feels right, so I’m sticking to it).

I never would have ordered a seafood pancake or steamed eggs, because both things sound like they would provoke discomfort in my mouth. Might I just say, they absolutely did not, and, in fact, could develop into cravables. Yum.

The more I think back, the less I can remember about exactly what I ate, however…the experience seems all the more enticing that way. It makes me less helpful here, but more human, I suppose. I can say that it was 90 percent meat and that it all tasted perfectly spiced, non-greasy, and not at all like the artery clogging BBQ’s I’m used to passing right by in my neighborhood.

Bless the animals I ate, bless the birthday girl, and may my kindest foodie thoughts float back out to that knife-bearing women who cooked the meat tender to our heart’s contents. Full and happy, we filtered back out into the cold city night, and I to dream BBQ dreams anew.

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