Kortako’s Rice Bowl, Mandoo Fail To Wow In More Than One Way

It’s not often that eating lunch actually makes me angry because often that little break where I get to put food in my mouth is the highlight of my day, whether it’s sub par or awesome. After striking out on my lunch idea one day, I happened to walk by Kortako on Nassau (btw. John & Fulton) and realized I hadn’t returned since their much-delayed opening at the beginning of December. I had a burrito on my first visit which I enjoyed for what it was (Kor-Mex fusion), but another person didn’t seem too positive about the place in the comments of that post. So I stepped inside to try something different and it was all downhill from there.

I opted for one of the bowls with kimchi fried rice as the base and spicy chicken as my meat ($7.29). I watched the guy on the line scoop a dainty amount of rice into the small plastic container, and it was when he didn’t add any more that I began to worry. A scoop of spicy chicken went in next, and then my three toppings of seared kimchi, some sort of corn salad and sesame ginger slaw.

First of all, the container wasn’t all that large and wasn’t even close to full. I can understand filling half of the container with rice and then going light on the meat and salads, but the layer of rice didn’t even cover the bottom! The good news was the chicken was dark meat and pretty flavorful. I was hungry and it didn’t take me long to polish this portion of food off. On a side note, there were two banker-looking guys sitting next to me at the counter who had an actual conversation comparing the place to Chipotle. I’ve never gotten a burrito bowl at that chain, but I would guess it’s heartier than what I got at Kortako.

There were signs all over the counter where you order proclaiming that they had bulgogi mandoo (4 for $3.50). The price made me pause, but in the interest of research (and because I love any and all kinds of dumplings) I placed my order for some and was warned it would take five minutes for them to be prepared. I sat hate-eating my paltry spicy chicken bowl and soon enough the mandoo were done.

Now, I’m not Korean or any sort of expert on mandoo but these were sad excuses for dumplings of any stripe. They were still a little wet, and all that was stuffed inside was a sweet wad of bulgogi. I ate all of them, but only because I’d paid almost $1 apiece and knew that I’d still be hungry from the rice bowl. I was told there was soy sauce available if I needed any, but I knew that no amount of dipping was going to save these.

I know that we in the Financial District have nothing close to the gems in Chinatown, but from what I’ve tasted at Kortako’s parent restaurant, Bon Chon on John St., you’re better off going there for your Korean food needs.

The + (What someone who likes this place would say)

  • It’s gives you a lot of options involving Korean food.
  • They try to keep it healthy and don’t phone in the spice.
  • There are many options involving kimchi, and I love kimchi!

The – (What someone who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • The size to price ratio is severely off on some of the items.
  • Yes, they have mandoo, but they’re not too good.
  • The seating at prime lunch time is non-existent.

Kortako, 80 Nassau St. (btw. John & Fulton), (212) 964-4625


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