For Cheap Korean BBQ Supremacy… Is Man Kang (aka Mr. Lee) The New Bud Namu?
As a $10 all you can eat Korean BBQ devotee it didn’t take me long to realize that the best under $10 ayce Korean BBQ place is the newest under $10 ayce Korean BBQ place. Stuffing your face with loads of grilled meat seems to be a dinner thing for most, but to draw people in for lunch many of these restaurants will offer the $10 ayce special just to get people in the door; the kalbi version of a loss leader. The problem is that once the place gets super popular at lunchtime, they need to either cut back on quality or raise the price. And while the average Korean lunchtime tourist may not notice, the devotee begins to look for new pastures.
When Don Day started to slip, I moved on to Bud Namu (which is great if you love bulgogi.) But my new favorite might be a place hidden on the second floor of the Cosmos Village strip mall on Western btw. 3rd and 4th. Man Kang if you believe Yelp, Mr. Lee if you go by the sign over the door.
Technically Man Kang isn’t new (although maybe Mr. Lee is?) but it’s still completely empty during lunch so maybe that’s the incentive for them to keep trying? Between the price ($8.99) and the completely empty restaurant my hopes weren’t exactly high… but that was erased by the better than average banchan.
Big bowl of salad? Check. Two kinds of ssam wrappers? Check. Decent kimchi? All there. But the salt and sugar covered fried yam sticks (!?!) and squares of pancake were a welcomed surprise. I could probably have eaten $8.95 worth of just that.
They also bring you the hot egg custard thing, and when I asked for doenjang- the korean soy bean paste that most Korean BBQ places will give you for meat dipping- they misunderstood and brought out a small bowl of doenjang jjigae, so there’s that if you ask for it.
For meats you get three options…
There’s brisket, which at Man Kang is cut into large fatty circles that don’t disintegrate on the grill like many cheap Korean BBQ places. If you’re a big fan of brisket, this place is way better than average.
And the pork belly seemed to get better and better the longer we left it on the grill.
But brisket and pork belly are de rigeuer on $10 ayce Korean BBQ menus. Where Man Kang gets put over the top is the pork neck. If you like steak, this is a tasty substitute for some of the more expensive cuts that you don’t normally see on the cheap lunch menus.
Basically it comes down to this. If you’re a fan of the marinated meats like bulgogi, you might want to stick with Bud Namu. But if top notch brisket, steak and awesome banchan is you’re thing, Mr. Lee is the man to see. At least for now.
Man Kang, 356 S Western Ave (2nd Floor). 213-739-8456