If you head to Koreatown (affectionately known to LA locals as “K-town”) you can find any number of tasty, authentic Korean barbeque restaurants. But, if you are on the Westside of town craving kimchi, fish cakes, marinated meats, and a table with a big round grill carved into the center of it for you to cook the meats yourself, then you were out of luck. With the remodel of Culver City’s old Fox Hills Mall into the new Westfield Fox Hills has come a slew of new food establishments, including Manna BBQ. From the numerous grill tables, to the call buttons to summon your waitperson, to the traditional menu selections, Manna is as authentic as they come. Yeah, that’s right … real sit-down, full serivce Korean BBQ in a mall!
Cavewoman was, unfortunately, down for the count. Being on my own with the Cavekids, I decided to take them to the nearby nubile eatery and turn them on to something fun, different and delicious.
Before we go any further, I feel full disclosure is in order. Though the initial picture seems like the logical shot to go first, it was actually taken on our way out. If you look at how distended the Cavegirl’s belly is, from the mass quantities she consumed, it becomes plainly obvious. 😮
Why did she gorge on so much food? Two reasons: the food was very good, and there was a lot of it! Almost as soon as our order was placed our table started filling up with many of the usual Korean starters/side dishes. Kimchi, fish cakes, marinated Japanese cucumber slices, rice noodles, several different pickled radishes, kimchi pancakes, miso soup, salad with horseradish dressing, and a couple of others I’m not sure of, all arrived before we saw any of the “bottomless” meats we ordered. We started sampling the various dishes and I was pleasantly surprised when both kids started wolfing down some of the sweet radishes and rice noodles. Then, the Caveboy declared he loved the fish cakes and was claiming the remainder that was in the serving dish. “No problemo”, I told my greedy glutton. “They’ll bring us all we want!”
Just then, our trio of meat platters arrived and it wasn’t long before the table grill was sizzling with the likes of Julmuruc (boneless marinated short ribs), Daeji Bulgogi (spicy marinated pork), and Chicken Bulgogi. I handed the kids the tongs and told them that they were cooking their own meats. Their eyes got as wide and shiny as Mr. T’s bling and with unbridled excitement took over the cooking duties. It was so much fun watching them carefully flip each piece of meat and cooking them to perfection. The amount of food they gorged themselves on was truly impressive as we went through nearly five plates of the various carnivore delights. That’s not to say that I didn’t devour my share … I did! Finally, we raised the white flag only to have them bring us each a glass of traditional Korean rice punch, a very sweet non-alcoholic digestive.
So, how far in debt did we have to go for a never-ending feast like this? Not bad, when all was said and done. My portion of the bill was only $16.99, while the Caveboy was given the 5-9 year old price of $10, and the Cavegirl took advantage of the free meal for those 4 and under. Manna BBQ’s lunch prices are even better. For the incredible variety and abundance it is certainly worth it … especially if you come hungry. Best of all, it is an absolute blast to cook your own food at the table and to mix it with the various side-dishes. Certainly, the kids had a great time, with both of them declaring how much fun they had cooking and couldn’t wait to do it again. You’d think they had been making the food at Disneyland the way they were talking about it all the way home.
If the need for real-deal Korean BBQ strikes and you find yourself in West LA, don’t make the long traffic-laden trek to K-town. Just take a quick jaunt to Culver City and find out for yourself that Manna doesn’t just fall from heaven … it can be reasonably bought in the mall, too. 😉
©2010 Caution: Caveman Cooking/UHearMe, Inc. All rights reserved. This originally appeared on the Caution: Caveman Cooking blog at http://cavemancooking.net authored by Caveman. This may be shared and reprinted as long as this entire copyright message accompanies it.