Note: Please see the comments section below for a reply from the owners daughter.
Mandoo is a small Korean dumpling restaurant in the Adelaide CBD. I was invited at the last minute to join my flatmate and some friends of hers for dinner on Tuesday night. I had previously heard good things of this restaurant and with celebrity chef Pete Evans’s ringing endorsement plastered all over the front windows; I was expecting a lot. Oh dear!
First we were served our water instead of a jug or a nice glass bottle we got a cheap plastic drink bottles that they hadn’t even bothered to take the labels off of.
All meals come with sides which you can get refilled on request. You get gherkins, kimchi (which I avoided as kimchi often contains fish sauce, plus it;’s usually freakin’ hot!) and seaweed salad (which I could have sworn was Japanese). The gherkins and seaweed salad were tasty, but nothing you couldn’t buy at a supermarket.
The vegan item on the menu is the vegetable dumplings (steamed or fried), they come with a side of salad covered in a mayonnaise and, oddly, a glob of cold mashed potato. The potato was pretty flavorless, the salad was just mixed lettuce; a concept I have never truly understood. The mayo was, I believe, a sunflower oil mayonnaise, which is generally egg free, but I could be wrong. Fellow vegans may want to avoid or ask the staff for clarification (something I have never been good at doing).
You also get a bright red dipping sauce. The sauce was quite scary looking. From the color and the visible pieces of chilli in the mix I was expecting something quite spicy. I was wrong. The sauce was quite mild, sweet and salty, very tasty. It was after eating about half of it that it occurred to me that the salty flavor might be from fish sauce at which point I didn’t eat any more. This was a problem, because the sauce was the only thing giving the dumplings flavor.
I had high hopes for these dumplings given the restaurants reputation. I was sorely disappointed. The dumpling skin was okay, but nothing special. The filling was pretty lackluster. All the ingredients were all chopped up very small and mostly consisted of glass noodles which are essentially flavorless.
Food: It is a sad day when I’m more thrilled by the sides (which were all straight out of a packet) than the main event. 1/5
Setting: Standard small dumpling shop, a few small plants, not too loud, nothing special really. 3.5
Service: Great. The staff are polite, they appear to understand English well pay attention to their customers. They were constantly checking up and adjusting the temperature gas stove for the hot pot dish. 4/5
Overall: A disappointment. Maybe the meat dishes which make up the majority of the menu, would be better but I guess I’ll never know. In a side note the weird, thin, metal Korean chopsticks are even harder to use that the regular kind. 2/5