S and I really love Korean BBQ. I first discovered all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ in Raleigh, North Carolina, on my 21st birthday! Haha. Looking back, the place really wasn’t that great – especially now that I’ve had Korean BBQ in California – but I really loved grilling all the meat that I can eat. In San Diego, we’ve only been to Manna BBQ, which is ridiculously popular; I’ve rarely seen the place without a long list of people waiting. There are several other AYCE KBBQ’s in SD, but we’ve never gotten around to any of them since they’re usually priced around the same as Manna, and we’ve always heard that Manna has the best quality meat. However, some of our friends have been recommending Mapo Korean BBQ, so we went with a group for a birthday celebration.
The best thing about Mapo is that there wasn’t a line. We had made reservations, but at Manna, there’s a wait even if you make reservations (and you can only do so if your group is larger than 12). There were several other tables still available, too, so if you’re a walk-in customer I’m sure you could have been seated immediately. Anyway, above is their “Premium All-You-Can-Eat” Menu B, which offers a pretty decent selection. Like Manna, they have a 2-hour time limit, although we’re not sure how strictly it’s enforced.
We were served a few assorted side dishes (banchan) and a salad. The side dishes were all right – I liked the broccoli and cucumbers. However, I do admit that the sides were not as good as Manna’s.
The dipping sauces served here are pretty different from other AYCE restaurants that I’ve been to. From left to right: a lightly sweetened soy sauce with pickled jalapenos, garlic, and onion; chili sauce that was vaguely reminiscent of Chinese dou ban jiang (toban djan); sesame oil with sea salt and peppers (supposed to be for pork belly).
KBBQ doesn’t really lend itself to great photos, and I was busy grilling and eating (okay, mostly eating), but I managed to snap a few photos of our meat…