Tom Sietsema says he fell for Mandu's Mount Vernon Square location at first glance thanks to the wooden duck carvings and wall divider built out of memory boxes. But the Washington Post critic also seems to have fallen for the menu of Korean specialties, crediting everything from the dumplings and chicken wings to the chap chae noodles and bimimbap for the two stars he gave the eatery. But, of course, nothing is without its drawbacks. One quibble has to do with the spiciness factor:
"Looking as if it should taste like molten lava, a brick-colored mass of shredded beef with egg and bean sprouts sears rather than torches the tongue. The kitchen tends to emphasize sweetness over heat. Koreans have an expression for explosive spiciness that loosely translates into English as 'deliciously burning hot.' No true hothead is likely to utter those words at Mandu."
Sietsema is also not crazy about an oily fried eggplant or a tough piece of flank steak. But all in all, the review is favorable: Between "riveting" appetizers and "comforting" noodles, Mandu "knows how to make a diner feel good." Sietsema also recommends Mandu for brunch — either location. [WaPo]
Todd Kliman pays a visit to Hill Country — as in the Texas-style barbecue joint — for the June issue of the Washingtonian and hands it a respectable two stars. While the critic is a fan of the moist (or fatty) brisket, sausage links, cucumber side dish and he even says the barbecue chicken is "close to perfect." But not everything is so lucky. The ribs were disappointing with a "lingering aftertaste akin to liquid smoke." The potato salad was damned with faint praise: They are "fine," apparently. [Washingtonian]
The Washington Post's Justin Rude takes a look at the prix-fixe lunch menu in Restaurant Eve's lounge area. The deal is that $14.98 will get you two items from a rotating menu that includes standards like soups, sandwiches and salads, but also papri chaat, antelope scrapple and Todd Thrasher's cocktails. The verdict? "This really is a remarkable deal. Dollar for dollar, it's among the very best dining values in the Washington area." [WaPo]
THE BLOGS: New Columbia Heights notes a friendly atmosphere at Tegeste; DC-Wrapped Dates wanted good greasy food and beer, but found only OK-sounding greasy food and beer at The Front Page; Capital Spice has a dining experience at Sushi Taro that is "on par with many of the best in the city."
Mandu [Photo: Pear M./Yelp]