35 West 35th Street (between 5th and 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10001
I was recently invited to Madangsui for their Korean barbecue. I was pretty excited to try a new restaurant in ktown because I find that I’m always at the same places when I go (Kun Jip, Don’s Bogam, BCD Tofu House…). Madangsui is a couple streets up from the main 32nd street strip and nestled between a number of non-korean bars, which I thought was a red flag. But once you walk in, you’re transported back into that same Korean world. The place is actually pretty huge (note: good for parties) and was packed with koreans. Like all korean places, we were served an array of ban chan (small appetizers pictured below that are always refillable and FREE!).
We ordered two kinds of meats. This is the Dwaeji Jeyuk Bulgogi, or pork marinated in korean style hot sauce ($24.99 – note that you would probably get more meat than this for the full price. Since we didn’t pay, I asked that we get smaller portions so we could try more things). Quality is solid. Meat was just fatty enough to be juicy. Flavor was on the sweeter side, and really not that spicy. I liked that their marinated meats weren’t dripping in sauce, and were more dry-grilled. Overall, good, but nothing supremely special.
The photo here doesn’t do it justice, but this was some of the BEST korean galbi I’ve had. The meat was very high quality, marbled with the perfect fat to lean ratio. Every bite had a bit of both. Again, love that the marinated short rib wasn’t dripping with sauce. It must have been marinated for a long time to have just soaked up all the flavor.
Unfortunately, the rice was really mushy. I prefer my rice to be harder, chewier, with more texture. Also lacked flavor. Even their kochujang sauce that comes with the rice wasn’t flavorful. Price tag doesn’t help.
In conclusion, Mandangsui is really a barbecue place. I wouldn’t recommend if you didn’t feel like having a meaty meal. Everything else on the menu is fine, some not worth getting (bibimbop), and others standard (seafood pancake). The galbi though… that galbi is worth coming back for. It was so juicy, tender, and flavorful. Much better than the typical barbecue places on 32nd street.