Korean barbecue and I have a love-hate relationship. I love high-quality, grilled meats (and especially love all-you-can-eat meat). I love all the side dishes and soups and appetizers that you can get at Korean barbecue restaurants. But, I despise the lingering smell of smoke and meat all over my clothes days and days after the meal. I also hate the temptation of all-you-can eat; I feel an obligation to keep eating and eating, because that’s my “money’s worth”, right? But usually I regret such decisions soon after the meal, bloated beyond my capacity.
But anyway, despite my complicated relationship with AYCE Korean barbecue, I went to Manna on Convoy St. last Saturday with some friends. There is usually a long wait (over a hour), but I guess because it was St. Patrick’s Day, and it was rainy and cold, our total wait time was maybe half an hour or so – for a group of seven, not bad at all.
There are 2 options: A1 Premium AYCE ($24.95/person) or A2 Regular AYCE ($19.95/person). I think for premium you can order better meats, but we all went with the regular. You can order as many plates as you want at a time, and as many plates as you want, with a couple of caveats: there is a 2-hour time-limit for your meal, and if you don’t finish something, they will charge you for it.
Throughout the evening, we ordered pork belly, beef boneless short ribs, beef rib tips, beef brisket, beef tongue, and galbi (short ribs). I think my favorites were the brisket and pork belly. The brisket was actually thinly sliced, which is unexpected, but really delicious.
There were also unlimited side dishes. I guess the point is to make you eat more side dishes and less meat. That didn’t work for us since we ate plenty of both. Candied potatoes, kimchi, thinly sliced daikon, sprouts… all so good.
The salad was one of my favorites, actually. SK raves to me about it sometimes – I’ve never seen him so excited by a salad.
Along with the A2 All-You-Can-Eat are some soups and steamed dishes. One of my friends ordered a soybean paste stew, and all of us shared some steamed egg dishes. The eggs were pretty good – too firm for my liking but just perfect for SK. The flavor was spot-on.
I left Manna Korean BBQ feeling.. well, not as bloated as I usually am after AYCE meals. (Maybe I have finally matured?) I think the great thing about Manna is that they use good quality meat, whereas many other AYCE places use cheaper meats and just marinate them. If there’s an occasion, I would love to come back.
Manna Korean BBQ
4428 Convoy St, San Diego, CA