Ah, the trials of brunching. Cori Sue and I planned brunch this past Saturday but, to our surprise and dismay, our selected restaurant only serves brunch on Sunday. As we were both in the Dupont Circle, we moved quickly to find a different brunch option.
We promptly decided on Mandu, a nearby Korean mainstay. I hopped in a cab and met Cori Sue, fresh from her gym workout session (that over-achiever) at the opening of FlyWheel . The restaurant is family-run by recent Cochon 555 king Danny Lee and his mother, affectionately known as “Mama Lee” and it is reflected in the comfortable, laid-back atmosphere. We were some of the first to arrive at the restaurant, but it quickly filled up as our leisurely brunch went on.
Having our priorities straight, we immediately ordered cocktails, which are offered for $4 at brunch. Cori Sue selected the peach bellini while I got the peach sojutini, and twist on a martini using the Asian spirit Soju. Cori Sue loved her drink and mine had more than a kick, which is not the worst for starting off the weekend. We placed orders for appetizers: two types of dumplings: a beef and pork and a vegetable, and beef skewers. We both were very pleased with both types of dumplings, which had ample filling kicked up with the savory dipping sauce (even despite my fumbling with chopsticks).
The beef skewers came with vegetables: peppers and spring onions, roasted on a stick. It was a great, healthy and hearty appetizer.
With all the day-to-day decisions we have to make, thankfully, Mandu offers one delicious brunch option. It is a welcome diverse and affordable brunch plate filled with your choice of marinated beef, pork, or tofu, along with a Korean-style folded omelet, their famous chive pancakes, and Korean hash browns. That’s a lot of food for two little Bitches!
Prior the plates arriving, Mandu serves an appetizer of Korean pickled vegetables: cucumbers, potatoes with broccoli, tofu, and Bok choy. It was a healthy, light start to the brunch—if you hadn’t ordered appetizers beforehand.
I selected the pork, while Cori Sue, who is ever the lover of steak and eggs, got the beef. Both meats were tender and packed with flavor. The beef was actually, incredible—well flavored, moist, and delicious. The perfectly cooked omelet kept us coming back for more while their signature dish of chive pancakes was airy and flavorful.
The brunch deal includes “mochi”, an Asian gelato or sorbet served wrapped in rice paper. It’s a pleasant, light ending to a big brunch—and a nice, authentic touch. However, we both struggled to get over the odd texture and only had a bite or two.
Mandu’s brunch is awesomely unique—unlike most of the traditional small plates spots or classic brunch establishments you see across town. The service was good, the ambiance pleasant and family-friendly, and it’s a good go-to. The price point for the cocktails and the brunch smorgasbord can’t be beat.
We left, thankfully full to start our packed Saturdays warmed up to enter this unseasonably cold late-March air. Although last minute, we certainly think our pick of Mandu was a great choice.
The Bitches say: A-. A lovely laid-back neighborhood restaurant with delicious and authentic Asian
fare, which offers a new and different brunch option.
1805 18th St. N.W.