It seems like lately, all of the Korean food we’ve been eating has been of the “trendy re-interpretation” variety. Meaning restaurants that are either attempting to elevate Korean cuisine, or make sliders out of it. And we’re totally fine with that - we really like places like Hanjan and Danji and Momofuku Ssäm (still).
But every once in a while, we get a craving for a more traditional meal - one that only a trip to K-Town can satisfy. The only problem with that is that there are about a million of these restaurants within a five block Midtown radius, and to the non-Korean or inexperienced eye, they all look pretty much the same. And we are neither Korean nor particularly experienced.
Madangsui is a spot that we’ve visited a few times now, and while we’re certainly not experts in the field, we do know that we like it here quite a bit. The menu is big, and there are definitely some less-than-memorable things on it. But if you stick to a few of the key items that they do best, you should come away happy. For instance, you absolutely want to eat a seafood pancake. Those are incredible here. You’re obviously going to want to make use of the grill that sits in the middle of your table, so you’ll need some bulgogi and marinated short ribs for that. And you also probably ought to have a bibimbob or two for good measure. Add all of that up with the endless ban chan (side dishes) that come with the meal and a bunch of beers, and you’ve got a good night for four to six people laid out in front of you. Best Korean in K-Town? Who knows. But Madangsui definitely does the job when we’re in the mood for a Korean meal that doesn’t involve ramps.
A savory pancake, usually stuffed with squid, shrimp, and scallion. The server will present you with the plate and serve you a wedge of fluffy, flavorful goodness. Happiness will ensue.
Another very good pancake option, this time with oysters.
Chances are good you came to K-Town in search of some BBQ, and there are a few specific meats that we like best at Madangsui. First of all, their bulgogi is the best of the bunch. It’s a super flavorful ribeye that’s been thinly sliced and marinated in soy sauce goodness. We also like the short ribs a lot, and the pork belly, which is actually more like typical strips of bacon. Grill them up, wrap them in some lettuce, and go to town.
This is our favorite bibimbob on the menu, though we like them all a lot. The dol-sot is a bibimbob that comes in a hot stone bowl, which from what we can tell makes some of the rice at the bottom crunchy. Crunchy is good.
A tasty and pungent kimchi soup with short rib. This will do you right on a cold night.