korean: mindong korean gourmet (明洞館)

date september 17, 2011

contact 1F, No. 4, Alley 5, Lane 107, Sec. 1, Fuxing S. Rd., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區復興南路一段107巷5弄4號1F/02.2773.6949

hours 7 days a week 17:30-24:00

price 300NT-600NT

rating ♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT (捷運忠孝復興站)

website http://www.mindong.com.tw/ (Chinese and Korean Only)

For Michael’s going away dinner he decided on Mindong Korean Gourmet since last time we tried to go we couldn’t get a reservation.

I called on Wednesday night to make a reservation for 7pm on Saturday night for six. They said they were booked, but could get us in at 7:30pm. Needless to say, reservations are kind of a must for Mindong on the weekend, so be warned.

Mindong is only a few minute walk from the Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT station (忠孝復興) exit 5. The restaurant called me a few times just before 7:30pm to make sure we’d be there on time. I was about 10 minutes late, but two of my friends had gotten there on time and were told that they had to wait for the rest of our party to get there before they could get seated. Once I got there we were immediately seated; I think just the majority of your party just has to be there.

The menu at Mindong is in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and English, although the English may not be very helpful unless you are familiar with Korean food names, as they are mostly just transliterations of the Korean. For those unfamiliar with Korean food names you’re in luck because every item on the menu is accompanied by a picture.

Between four of us we decided to order a few things to share:
– Small Soon Doo Boo Jigae (小豆腐火鍋) 450NT
– Small So Gee Set Kul aka Assorted BBQ (小燒烤總匯) 650NT
– San Dong Shaw G aka Shandong Chicken (山東燒雞) 280NT
– Dog Bog aka Rice Cakes (炒年糕) 260NT
– Peach Soju (真露(水蜜桃)) 350NT

First thing to come out was the banchan (side dishes). At first we weren’t sure if the meal came with the banchan or if we had to order it because we saw it on the menu for 50NT. I think that it comes with the meal, but if not, it’s only 50NT. The weirdest thing about the banchan was that we didn’t get any cabbage kimchi…this is literally the first time in my life that I’ve gone to a Korean restaurant and not gotten any cabbage kimchi. Anyways, none of the banchan was particularly outstanding or memorable; it was all pretty average.  We ended up getting seaweed, fish cakes, bean sprouts, potato salad, peanuts, some green vegetable, something else I didn’t get to try, pickled radish, and kimchi onions. My favorite was the kimchi onions. It had a good vinegar, sweet, and salty combination although it could have used more spice.

We asked the waiter which of the starters he recommended. He recommended the hae mul pa jun aka seafood pancake (海鮮煎餅) for 280NT, dog bog aka rice cakes (炒年糕) for 260NT, and san dong shaw g aka Shandong chicken (山東燒雞) for 280NT. Mike decided on the san dong shaw g aka Shandong chicken. I thought this was pretty tasty. The chicken was really tender and had great flavor. The sauce was a tasty sweet vinegar and garlic mixture. I really liked the cucumber in it because it kind of soaked up the sauce. I would get this again.

The So Gee Set Kul aka Assorted BBQ (小燒烤總匯) comes in either a small or large portion. We asked the waiter what size we should get since we were going to split it between the four of us and get other things as well. The waiter suggested the small portion for 650NT and I think it was a good suggestion. While there isn’t a lot of meat, it’s a good portion if you’re planning on getting other things. I thought all of the meat was pretty good. I kind of wish we would have gotten some galbi or bulgogi, something marinated, but these cuts of beef were pretty good, too. Each of us were able to have one slice of each cut and all was pretty tender, just don’t over grill it. It also came with lettuce, shiso leaves, garlic, and peppers to wrap the meat in.

We also got the soon doo boo jigae (豆腐火鍋). Like the bbq meat this also comes in two portions. Again, on the recommendation of the waiter we went with the small for 450NT. I wasn’t that impressed with this sundubu. I thought the soup itself was not as flavorful as other sundubus I’ve had. Mike and I both agreed that the sundubu at Gyeongju Korean Restaurant was better. When you order the sundubu you can choose how spicy you want it (1-3, 3 being the spiciest). We went with 1 since some of our party can’t handle too much spice. Maybe with more spice this would have been better, but as it was I just felt like the soup lacked depth, not enough seafood flavor or something. Regardless I thought this was still good, just not great.

Since Will was late and we had started without him, we decided to add another dish so Will could get a little more to eat. We went with the dog bog aka rice cakes aka tteokbokki (炒年糕) for 260NT. I’ve never seen tteokbokki aka rice cakes translated at dog bog, but that’s what it is on the menu at Mindong. I thought their rice cakes were pretty tasty. The sauce was pretty standard. I thought the rice cakes were cooked pretty perfectly: nice and chewy, very “qq”.

To end the meal there is a freezer of self-serve ice cream. I went with the mint chocolate chip, but there were 5 or so other flavors as well.

We also ordered a small jug of peach soju (真露(水蜜桃)) for 350NT. They have about 5 flavored sojus on the menu so we asked the waiter which he thought was the best and he suggested lemon or peach. We decided on peach. Generally I don’t like soju. I feel like for as low as the alcohol content is it tastes pretty terrible. This peach soju was okay, but I wouldn’t want to get it again. Maybe if you like soju you’d like this, but for me this was a miss.

Overall, I thought Mindong was pretty good. There were a lot of other things on the menu that I’d like to try, so hopefully I’ll come back to Mindong to try them. I noticed that Mindong has a second location located at No.40-2, Lane 223, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Daan District, Taipei (台北市大安區忠孝東路四段223巷40號之2). Maybe I’ll try that location, too.

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