Friday, April 24, 2009

Mandarin Garden: Test Your Tastebuds

Theresa took us to the Korean-Chinese place she’d been raving about so we could try K-style ja-jeung-mien. If there’s one thing that puts a giant smile on my face, it’s when ethnic cuisines fuse together because the lovechild is, more often than not, a thing of pure flavor beauty.

Like 98% of all the other restaurants in Korea Town, Mandarin Garden Restaurant is located in a seedy looking strip mall (think minimal parking and Asian massage store on upper floor) and has an even seedier looking interior. We didn’t really bother perusing through the menu since our hearts were already set on the house special noodle ($8.65). We chomped away on the two measly banchans (OK, I let that slide. After all, the restaurant is only half Korean) for a while before our noodles were brought to our table in a giant white bowl, divided into two halves – one half filled with noodles covered in a dark, thick gloop sprinkled with bits of meat and onions while the other half housed a bright orange soup chock full of seafood and onions.

(Two 'rights' make an AWESOME)

I started with the spicy seafood soup noodles and I absolutely loved it. The spiciness is unassumingly mild at first but builds up after a while. Yes, that’s how they get you hooked on it – it’s seriously addictive and I was slurping up the noodles and the soup even after I was way past disgustingly full. While I preferred the orange side, I wonder if it was a mistake to start on that – the flavor was pretty strong and by the time I got round to trying the ja-jeung mien side, I couldn’t really taste the sauce. That side tasted almost bland to me. Debs and Theresa, however, both started on the ja-jeung mien side and they both said that they liked that more than the soupy side. So I guess it all depends on which version of the noodle you decide to numb your tastebuds on first.

FOOD: 3.5/5

1001 S Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(213) 380-0075

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