Having read the venerable Joe K's glowing review of Mapo, I've been itching to go there for some time now. After an enjoyable girls day out at the Ice Cream festival, we decided to go there and try out their very popular Korean BBQ.
Last time I was here two years ago, it was still Wara 250, and there were hardly any people there. Today however, the restaurant was full and we had to wait for a good 15 minutes before getting a table. True to the recommendation, the place was packed with Koreans, and the smell of BBQ was intoxicating.
After finally getting a table, we were soon presented with menus. Despite the popularity of its BBQ, mapo does offer quite a large selection of non bbq options, which we swore to go back and try at a later date.
Our BBQ came soon after. Whilst it had a similar setup to Wara 250, the charcoal was definitely far hotter than Wara 250. We had absolutely no concerns about the food cooking thoroughly.
Food started arriving within 5 minutes of our order. I guess it helps when a lot of it is pre-prepared.
The sides were definitely an attraction for us, having heard that they were considerably higher in quality than other Korean places, we were keen to try. That night we had kimchi, turnips, sprouts, sweet potato and spring onion. My companion immediately noted that the kimchi, whilst preserved, was definitely freshly presereved, and I noted how amazingly spicy it was. The turnip and sprouts were very refreshing, and the sweet potato crumbled in my mouth. They were indeed of higher quality than others that I've tried before.
To our delight, our marinated set soon came. It contained wagyu, chicken and pork belly.
As expected from a traditional Korean restaurant, it came with several lettuce leaves and miso for us to wrap the meats.
Our meats cooked reasonably quickly on the flame. The wagyu was very well marinated with sweet soy, and the meats melted on our tongue. It was super smooth and so delicious. The highlight was the pork belly which caramelised wonderfully to a crisp, whilst still locking in the meaty juices inside. The chicken was the only spicy option, and whilst it was quite spicy, it wasn't overwhelming, and I could still appreciate the freshness of the chicken flavour despite the marinade.
We wrapped up our meal with a mild braised beef rib stew. It was indeed very mild, and came with a side of rice. The beef ribs were super tender and the meat fell easily off the bones. I enjoyed the sweet soy broth which accompanied the rice very well. I do note however, that they seemed to have far more vegetables than beef, but I still enjoyed how the flavours complimented each other.
Price Range: $15 - $25pp