One of my favorite restaurants in college was the Mill, a small Korean place, 4 blocks from Columbia. I loved the banchan, the small side dishes at the beginning of the meal; each time, a different array of salty, crunchy, spicy nibbles. I was boring; my choice always oscillated between japchae, a stir fry noodle dish, usually with beef and mixed vegetables and bibim bap, a dish of rice topped with vegetables, sliced meat and a sunny side up egg. It was served in a screamingly hot stone pot and the rice on the bottom would sear and develop a crunchy brown crust. I think fondly of those affordable lunches, perfect for a student’s limited budget. There haven’t been a lot of Korean options in Boston; the most well known is Koreana in Cambridge and I was underwhelmed and never returned.
When the Globe reviewed Manna House earlier this summer, I put it on my to-go list, excited for some good Korean food. Steve and I got takeout last night: Bulgogi (a thinly sliced sirloin, marinated in sauce and grilled or panfried) for him, japchae for me, and a Korean style vegetable pancake to share. I think Steve enjoyed it more than I did. I thought the vegetables in the pancake were undercooked and the juices released by the zucchini made it a little watery. The japchae was a touch too sweet and the bulgogi was not notable. I was worried that since it was takeout we would miss out on the banchan, but fear not, there was spicy marinated tofu, crunchy bean sprouts, marinated daikon and carrots and the ubiquitous kim chee.
The entrees range from $13-$18 and our takeout came to $40. The food took longer than the 20 minutes they promised on the phone.