The other day my friend Jess and I went out for a catch-up dinner. For whatever reason we always end up having Korean, but no complaints since I love Korean food! Despite this restaurant being open for a while now, this was my first time trying it. The food was so good, I'm surprised I didn't hear about this place earlier! Perhaps its the name of the restaurant. I was actually recommending this restaurant to someone else yesterday, and had quite a bit of difficulty communicating the restaurant name. I'm sure in Korean it is probably less of a weird mouthful of words. In the interest of time and typing efforts, I will now refer to this restaurant as Myungdong for the rest of the post.
Myungdong is quite different from most Korean restaurants I've been to, adding some unique touches to traditional Korean dishes. Judging by the menu and what everyone else around us was ordering, I think the table top cooking is their most popular offering. Its basically like a hot pot that you cook table top. The pricing is on a per person basis, and there are different prices for different sets of food. We ordered the set that comes with mostly sliced beef, veggies, and some sort of glutinous dumplings.
"Fillet and Assorted Vegetables in Cooking Pot" ($14.99 per person)
Close up of the cooking ingredients
All the cooking ingredients had decent quality. There weren't any shriveling old lettuce leaves or browning mushrooms. The beef was thinly sliced and nicely marbled with fat in a way that allowed it to disappeared in your mouth as you ate it. I think for $15 per person it was a reasonable and filling portion of food.
Left: Cooking pot, Right: The cooking in action!
Table top cooking sauces
With your table top cooking, you get 3 sauces. My favourite one is the one with a lemon in it. It has a horseradish flavouring but the freshness of lemon. The one next to it is a peanut butter sauce. The last one is a spicy sauce which was also good. It didn't have a lingering heat like most korean hot sauce and actually had a sweet after taste to it.
Our hot pot set came with with a plate of supposedly hand made noodles. It's pretty hard to believe that these noodles were made by hand since they were all so uniform in size. Perhaps what they meant was that the noodle making machine was operated by hand? Regardless the noodles were very good. We cooked it for a long time so that it would soak up all the flavouring of the soup and it never lost its bounciness.
Inside of the purple glutinous dumpling ball
To me, the most interesting part of this hot pot platter are the glutinous dumpling balls. I'm not sure exactly what they are called in Korean, but they came in different colours and were all stuffed with something different. The purple one was my favourite and it had a yummy sweet potato filling inside. Reminded me of the glutinous rice ball desserts that Chinese people make during new years. Yums!
Like all korean places, dinner comes with kimchi. But instead of using those white petri dish resembling plates to serve a bite size serving of kimchi, they give you an entire pot of it! I know it doesn't look like there is much from the picture, but it was an ample amount that lasted Jess and I the entire meal. The kimchi was some of the best I've had; it was sweet and didn't have the strong potent smell that is sometimes too much for me to handle.
"Soup with Mixed Dumpling and Rice Cake" ($8.99)
Despite ordering a table top cooking dinner for 2, we still insisted on ordering a dumpling dish because apparently it's very good. The Korean lady taking our order was shocked and repeated our order 3 times back to us to comfirm that we wanted 2 dinners and an extra dumpling order. This really did become too much food (I think the dumpling order itself couldve been my dinner) but this wouldn't be a food blog dinner if I wasn't stuffed to the brim! The bowl only comes with 3 dumplings but these were ginormous dumplings that would fill the entire bowl. They were approximately the size of my fist, and were filled completely with pork, chives and some other things. The rice cakes were the perfect chewiness. All of this goodness was submerged in a very clean pork bone broth that tasted like it was boiled and reduced for long hours over the stove. It was lightly flavoured but didn't taste bland at all. Top that off with some ground pork, shredded egg and seaweed, and it was perfect. Absolutely loved this dish!
Inside of one of the dumplings
Jess and I now being completely stuffed, we went to go pay at the counter. After paying the nice korean man gave us each a trapezoid shaped mint and told us it was a popular candy from Korea. I didn't get to take a picture, but it was like eating a sugar coated Mentos. Can't go wrong with that! Loved my experience here, and I would definitely come back again. My new favourite spot for Korean food!