Born and raised in Seoul, Yesoon Lee grew up learning how to cook traditional Korean comfort foods. Today, she continues to embrace the recipes and the flavors of her homeland by recreating those dishes at Mandu: the restaurant she opened with her children, Jean and Danny. With locations in Dupont Circle and the Mount Vernon Triangle, Mandu also tempts patrons with an inviting charm that led The Washington Post to claim that the eatery, “knows how to make a diner feel good.” In addition to steaming or pan-frying the dumplings— or mandu—that inspired the restaurant’s name, Chef Lee and her team forge a variety of iconic Korean dishes. Barbecued beef short ribs and stir-fried potato noodles appear alongside classics like bibim bap. The mixed meat, veggie, and egg dish is served in a hot stone bowl, which helps to heat the rice from the bottom and explains why all of Mandu's tables look so relaxed. And although each location features a small selection of wines by the bottle or glass, they pair meals with a handful of Korean beers as well as soju—Korea’s most famous distilled spirit.
The first thing you should do upon stepping inside sunny Rice Bar is examine the chalkboard menu, which will lead you step by step through the creation of your own bibimbap. Start with white, black, or brown rice, then choose from toppings such as roasted seaweed, bamboo shoots, and teriyaki chicken.
The sign outside is unassuming and the inside––bearing nothing more than a few stools––may make newcomers wonder how Adam Express stays in business. But one bite into a fresh sushi roll or Korean entrée makes it all clear. Those who happen to snag one of two seats in front of the open kitchen can sit and watch as chefs prepare kimchee and bibimbap to order without flavor enhancers like MSG or chocolate syrup. Besides Korean specialties like chap chae––vermicelli noodles with shredded beef, veggies, and soy sauce––the chefs cook up a number of Chinese dishes such as fried rice and lomein, and blend Japanese and Korean traditions to make bulgogi sushi rolls, which feature marinated beef, crab cakes, and pickled radish.
More than 70,000 songs in seven languages pack the karaoke list at Muzette. Customers croon from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. (3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays), all the while devouring ramen, bibimbap, and mocha ice cream, or sipping Su Jung Gwa, a traditional cold Korean tea.