Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Seoul Food Girl: Mappo BBQ is the Korean BBQ restaurant in San Diego that never sleeps

Mappo BQQ in San Diego stays true to Korean night life every day of the week.

   This post can also be read at www.goneseoulsearching.com

The traditional round tables are just like in Korea piled with goodies.
    Six bottles of soju later, a free bill, and Korean Karaoke marked a wonderfully Korean night out on Convoy st. in San Diego. The small round tables at stools at Mapo BBQ Korean Cuisine keep the traditional Korean BBQ alive as many local California Korean BBQ's take a modern take Korean dining with Western style tables and chairs. Mapo offers both a traditional Korean experience with charcoal grills outside and a modern American experience with electric grills inside. Whatever you are looking for, the Korean cuisine will be delightful.
    After 2 kimchi jjigaes, bi bim bap, samgyupsal, gal bi sal, thin sliced beef brisket, shrimp, 2 steamed eggs, several bottles of soju and hite, my table was stuffed. We went a little overboard having a great Korean BBQ experience with my friends and their Korean students studying in California. One of our group members was also vegetarian so we ordered her the shrimp and vegetable bi bim bap. We ordered the set menu A which lets you choose 4 kinds of meat, 1 steamed egg, and 1 kimichi or tofu jjigae. We also ordered extras such as the shrimp and more jjigaes and rice to satisfy our appetite.
The grills outside in the traditional Korean section have charcoal.
     After a good two and a half hours of eating and playing Korean drinking games one of the Korean students got up to use the restroom. After a long departure, another one of our group members went to check on him only to discover that he had been sucked over to his Uncle's business meeting (drinking meeting in Korea) at another table. Our large bill over $200 was comped by the boys Uncle who explained that it was tradition for the oldest family member to pay the bill! The uncle had also encountered my blonde friend near the restroom which could have been another contributing factor to the free meal. Even funnier, we never saw our friend again as he was initiated into the business table and was stuck there until everyone had finished!

After Mapo head over to a local Korean karaoke room for some fun.

Price- Certain things on the menu seem outrageously priced for those of us that have lived in Korea. To see bi bim bap priced at $8-12 seems ridiculous when you can get a giant sizzling bowl with free side dishes in Korea for just $3. However, if you are going for BBQ the all you can eat is the best route to go. For $20 you get everything included. The set menus are also

Service- The service takes much longer than in traditional Korean restaurants. They serve you your side dishes first and the meat comes out much later. The trick is to not get so hungry that you eat all of your side dishes before grilling your meat as you should mix and match them along with the meat for extra flavor.

Atmosphere- At about 10 pm on a Thursday night Mapo will start to get really crowded. Interestingly enough my group was there at about 8:30 and the traditional BBQ tables were empty in the inner room. But the later it got, the entire room and outside portion with the charcoal grills were completely full. Mapo BBQ is like Korea at its best as it lives up to the night life in Seoul and every other Korean city. If you go to any big city in Korea the BBQ restaurants are at their full capacity at around 10 pm to midnight and even into the earlier hours of the morning. I'd say that Mapo is one of the most authentic Korean restaurants in San Diego.

Food- Once again, for those of you that have lived in Korea the quality of American beef versus Korean beef is non comparable. You can taste the difference in quality and the flavors are quite different. However, Mapo BBQ does a great job keeping all of its side dishes including its kimchi extremely traditional. The dipping sauces for the meat are perfectly made and if you are lucky enough to get a charcoal grill outside your meat will taste even more Korean. Cut those long pieces of kimchi up and throw them on the grill along with the garlic and mushrooms for added flavor.

Reviews- Most of the reviews agree that Mapo Korean BBQ can be quite expensive but well worth it for the quality of food and atmosphere. In relation to the well known Korean chain, Manna Korean BBQ, Mapo stays true to its Korean heritage without becoming too Americanized or mainstreamed.

Check out Mapo BBQ Korean Cusine's Facebook Page

If you have any questions or comments about "Seoul Food Girl: Mappo BBQ is the Korean BBQ restaurant in San Diego that never sleeps" please leave them in the comment box below or email them to goneseoulsearching@gmail.com 
  Creative Commons License  Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at goneseoulsearching@gmail.com.

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