The following review appears in The Washington Post’s 2016 Spring Dining Guide.
The problem with Mandu in Dupont Circle is a pack of superior Korean restaurants in the suburbs. Diners who have experienced the flurry of gratis side dishes at, say, Kogiya in Annandale will be disappointed with the routine banchan at Mandu. And the heat at Mandu seems tamer than at the competition, too. If it’s not best-in-class, this decade-old, family-run restaurant nevertheless serves as a dependable source for steamed dumplings swollen with shredded cabbage, carrots and onions (mandu) and rice topped with squiggles of beef, bean sprouts and a fried egg, a.k.a. bibimbap and best ordered in a hot stone bowl that crisps the rice. Chap-chae — glassy sweet potato noodles tossed with meat and vegetables — errs on the side of sweetness. Gaeran jim — fluffy egg custard punched up with diced pork belly and fried garlic — keeps me interested. Where to sit? Upstairs is roomier, and easier on the eyes, than the plain ground floor. Better yet, head to the younger Mandu in Mount Vernon Triangle, detailed with wooden duck carvings and a notch more daring with its menu.
→1805 18th St. NW. 202-588-1540. mandudc.com.
Open: Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Saturday and Sunday.
Prices: Lunch entrees $15 to $29 or prix fixe $14; dinner entrees $15 to $29; brunch platter $15.
Sound check: 74 decibels / Must speak with raised voice.
Previously (2007): 1.5 stars