Thursday, September 22, 2016

MANNA Announces Thursday Date Night Specials

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Due to the fact my partner-in-crime works evenings and I work mornings, I spend a lot of my dinners at the solo-friendly western restaurants since I can hangout at the bar, eat, and share stories with folks.  Last night I found myself at MANNA's bar talking with Chef Francis (the Chef responsible for the menu's at The Stoop and MANNA) and he told me about new Thursday Date Night Specials that are starting at MANNA today. Since there isn't any way for me to go with my best guy, you all need to go for me!

The special will run every Thursday from 5:00 pm until close. Couples can choose between 1/2 off a bottle of wine or 2 free desserts. It's a great opportunity to get out of the house on a night when maybe a few more babysitters are free.

(Seriously!!! Why does my guy have to work late every Thursday night!! This is his favorite restaurant!!! but I digress...)

MANNA is super easy to find. About a block to the right as you walk out of the "walking gate" at Camp Humphreys, sitting over Sushi In Jay and under Boiling Crab & Shrimp. It's in the Julie's Realty building. For new folks, who aren't used to restaurants being on the upper floors, don't worry. It's a normal thing here and there is even an elevator if you are feeling lazy. Trust me, it's worth the effort.

Although the restaurant is fancy, the prices aren't crazy. If you are on a budget their sandwiches are amazing and some are under 10,000 won. The main courses are hearty and between 13,000 - 30,000. You will get all the fancy without breaking the bank and nobody cares if you don't dress up. To be honest, I bike commute and show up a totally mess all the time. Nobody looks at me funny.

So grab your best guy or your best girl and go to MANNA tonight, or any other Thursday coming 'round the bend. They really do set the mood with a nice atmosphere, cozy environment, no TV's or loud music, and super delicious food.

Sponsored Post (Apparently I do these now.) 
Thank you MANNA :)

Friday, September 9, 2016

Dr Yoo Chinese Take Out

When Dr Yoo's Korean restaurant announced they were offering Chinese take-out I wasn't very inspired to try it. Just being honest. When restaurants decide the are going to offer something completely different than what they do in order to meet market demand, it's usually a complete train wreck I don't want to get involved in.  Plus, Chinese food in Korea is often the worst. However, after a while, the word on the street was solid enough I decided to go give it a try. Peer pressure totally works on me.

My first thought when I arrived was, "I sure wish I didn't have to try to Chinese food. Their Korean food looks way more delicious. Like, super good. Why are they even bothering to offer Chinese?" Shaking off these thoughts I asked to order-in (since I am opposed to take-out in my own life). After much consideration I decided on the orange chicken and fried eggplant.

While I waited I checked out the Korean menu and realized the friend eggplant is also part of their regular menu, it's one of their specialties. I also watched delicious seafood noodle soup arrive at the tables around me and I continued to wish I was going to be eating Korean food rather than dubious Chinese.

Eventually they brought out a heaping plate of fried food and I thought, "How am I going to survive all this grease?" Then my waitress whispered in Korean, "Do you want some kimchi?" and I gratefully said yes.  Which is where everything started to turn around.

When I dug into the chicken I realized it's a variation of boneless orange chicken found in Korean friend chicken restaurants, not the same but very similar. A type of fried chicken I often wish came with rice and kimchi so that it was easier to eat. Just last week I was wanting this exact meal. I mean, it's hella delicious but it needs kimchi and rice for me to survive the grease. So now I'm pretty stoked to have this secret wish realized. There will be times when I crave this.

After reviewing the "Chinese" menu in my head I realized that they did an amazing job re-envisioning things they already do well as "Chinese American" and packaging them in a way that resonates better with their foreign guests. So, they aren't doing something completely different than what they are already doing, the are doing more of the same with a twist and they are doing it well. From a marketing angle, it was a brilliant move that will work out for them. From a foodie angle, this is an excellent hearty meal that's quick and affordable.

But back to the kimchi. I love theirs. It's very subtle but added the tang and spice I needed to make the meal work. It's also a great starter kimchi for folks who aren't ready to level up. Truth be told, last night I would have been happy with just the kimchi and rice and, in the future, I'll bring my hubby here so that he can indulge in greasy delights while I eat all the noodles and kimchi. 

Which is what I like most about this: it's somewhere I can go and eat Korean food with folks who might not like Korean food. They get what they want and I get what I want. 

*** This listing and all other restaurants reviewed by South of Seoul can be found in the South of Seoul app which can be downloaded from Google Play and the Apple App Store. ***

Address:  98-2, Paengseongdaegyo-gil, Paengseong-eup, Pyeongtaek-si

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Louis Bar & Grill

One of the most delightful features of Louis Bar and Grill is the fact they have seasonal menus. There is always something new on the horizon. During the fall and winter you can look forward to hearty favorites coming back and in the summers you know fresh, bright flavors will be showing up again. This weekend is the launch of the new fall/winter menu so I stopped by to hear what they have in mind. For now, those things I was told will be a secret, but as soon as I get the final copy of the menu I'll be sharing it with all of you.

Since I was starving from my bike ride and wouldn't be home before Foreigner Night in Pyeongtaek, I also decided to grab a hearty dinner and try something new to me: the Pork Belly. It was a total stunner. Two THICK cut rounds of Italian style pork belly on a heaping (like a mountain) pile of perfect mashed potatoes and a salad. Worth every single won I spent and exactly the kind of calories I needed for my ride.

The first thing I asked after taking a bite was, "This isn't going off the menu is it?" I felt a little panicked that I'd discovered this dish right before it was gone. They assured me that it was in the running to remain on the menu, because - you know - it's magical.

Although I've always been the biggest fan of Louis' since they arrived I went through South of Seoul blog and realized that I haven't written nearly enough articles about them. I Instagram them, tweet them, and FB them but I haven't written enough. Huge failure on my part. This is one of our true gems. A place local foodies needs to eat at least once a month, if not more. Their staff is friendly, the space is beautiful and the food is hearty perfection, and their menu changes with the seasons - what's not to love?

*** This listing and all other restaurants reviewed by South of Seoul can be found in the South of Seoul app which can be downloaded from Google Play and the Apple App Store. ***

Monday, September 5, 2016

Brunch at MANNA

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This weekend was an anniversary in our house so we made time to go to MANNA the Kitchen for brunch. It's our first time for brunch there since the owners moved the menu from The Stoop to MANNA's sweet new digs. I was excited about eating brunch in front of the lovely new kitchen but not expecting anything new flavor wise. I figured we would show up and it would be more of the same (in a good way) in a new, fancier place.

Well, of course I was wrong and of course they wouldn't just stick with the same-old-same-old. That's just not who these chef's are. Not that brunch is totally different now, it's just better. With the larger kitchen came more space and the chance to use more modern cooking techniques that make their standard recipes even better.

One of they coolest new techniques they do is slow poach their eggs IN their shells. This results in every egg being perfectly, evenly cooked every time. They are also using the classic English muffin which didn't used to be available in Korea, but has now arrived and it makes a good benny even better. It's so simply and elegant, I recommend starting with the classic benny just to enjoy how perfectly it's done. These aren't the only changes, but I won't bore you with the tedious details. I'm just going to tell you they are good things.

In addition to the perfect eggs, we also ordered the brioche french toast. Generally I don't like to order things like waffles, pancakes and/or french toast because I can't handle all the sugar and hate the way I feel after I'm finished. However, my partner loves all things sugar so this is what I ordered for him. As it turned out, I think I ate more of it than he did because it WASN'T sickly sweet.  The thick cut brioche was perfectly matched with lightly candied walnuts and tasty bananas instead of loads of heavy syrup. The result was a "sweet" brunch dish that didn't weigh me down.

In my opinion, MANNA easily grabs the crown of  "best fancy brunch in town". Nothing really compares. I'm not saying I don't LOVE to eat breakfast at the other restaurants because I absolutely do. However, it's like comparing apples and oranges.  Plus, many of the other location only serve brunch items on the weekends. At MANNA brunch is available Monday - Saturday, making it easier to have brunch when you want it.