Published on October 20th, 2012 | by Andy Park
Gangnam Style @ Mapo Korean Table BBQ
Mapo Korean Table BBQ Review
Mapo is a district in Seoul, Korea, pretty affluent, and known for their food and prestigious universities. A place similar to Gangnam (by now everyone should know this district), but missing the horse-dance and absurdly rich and pretentious people. So having “Mapo” in “Mapo Korean Table BBQ”’s name, I can see they are trying to reenter the Korean food competition on Convoy. In my opinion this is better than their previous name, “Noodle Town”—which the waiter said they switched from because they serve more meat options nowadays. Stark contrast, indeed! They did a great job renovating the interior; now it looks pretty bumpin’. Ma-ma-ma-mapo style!
Let’s get down to business…
I MUST comment on how good their side dishes were. First, they give you a lot in each dish. Second, they were really well prepared. All the sauces went well together and the fresh kimchi, glass noodles, radish kimchi, fish cake…wow. I’m assuming they gave a lot because they also serve All You Can Eat KBBQ in other booths, but as a regular patron, these were made with a bit of effort! Good job!
Seafood Ja Jang Myun (Black Bean Sauce Noodles): If you’re Korean, you most always have this inner craving for Ja Jang Myun. Korean black bean sauced noodles is seriously where my heart was that fateful evening and I was very welcomed by the warm and familiar presence of what I used to eat every week. The sauce was actually very fresh in texture and had a lot of expected gourmet flavors. There was plentiful seafood hiding in the sauce, and enough sauce to save and put over rice for your next meal (I seriously did this—not a bad option to re-live the moment). However, traditionally flour noodles are used, but they use rice noodles. This changes the texture tremendously because with the calm taste of rice noodles (and they are thick!), it steals away from what normally flour noodles complement. If they replaced it with flour noodles, I would be willing to order this again. I was half happy and half wishful. Booo! First world problem!
Mushroom Tofu Stew: Tofu stew is one of the most popular dishes besides Korean BBQ that people tend to order at Korean restaurants—it’s hard to make this the “wrong” way and almost everyone would enjoy this pleasant entree You’re in for a treat if you enjoy complex pepper flavors and an oriental blend of savory flavors. In Mapo Korean Table BBQ’s case, my honest opinion must first elaborate that stew should not be watery. Yes, they put a lot of spices and typical broth, but as soon as I scooped up a little…it was such a weak soup-base that fell off my spoon like water. There needs to be decent thickness and flavors that bounce off the spoon–but it was too tame. The spiciness competed for my attention, but if the soup is off, everything is off. If you can’t tell the difference, then this is a decent dish with the tofu being nice and soft but…they make me shake my head on the inside. I’m such a snob! The mushroom variety was pretty decent but nothing to rave over. You can find better Tofu Stew in the 2,343,534 other Korean restaurants around the corner.
All You Can Eat Korean BBQ – Gangnam Style
Mapo Korean Table BBQ is also set up to serve All-You-Can-Eat Korean BBQ for $18.99, which is a little steep compared to Los Angeles pricing, but probably the cheapest by a dollar in San Diego. If you are confused why you might smell like sensational marinated meat after your meal, you may want to blame everyone else around you who is smoking up their grill with gluttony. If you decide to order the AYCE option, please be mindful and safely hide your suits and jackets because you will smell like a juicy carnivore for quite some time. Your dog may want to snuggle next to you tonight!
The waitresses were attentive and helpful the night my friend and I went to eat out. They are understanding and patient with people who have questions, but the real test would be when there’s a packed restaurant and a lot of people demanding their attention. I’m glad we went when there weren’t too many people!
In the end I had a satisfying fill of my cravings for the evening. Mapo Korean Table BBQ may not be the first place I take people when they want to experience Korean food, but they do have an overall satisfying experience and a vast array of dining options. If you’re wanting a simple entree they will not disappoint and if you’re up for gorging in the infamous All-You-Can-Eat option, please apologize to your angry arteries and overworked heart beforehand—oh and your wallet. Poor things.
Mapo Korean Table BBQ
4647 Convoy Street #105
San Diego, CA 92111
BBQ hours 11am-12am
Entree hours 10am-10pm