Paul Woo / Lantern photographer
In a shopping plaza off Bethel Road is one of the better authentic Asian restaurants I have been to.
A good indication that ethnic food is authentic is when that culture’s demographic eats there, and in that sense, Min-Ga Korean Restaurant’s food was genuine.
The restaurant was small and homey, and the décor not too over the top.
The fried dumplings were really deep fried, unlike some places that actually have them premade and shoved in an oven. They were steaming hot and freshly made. The sauce that went alongside it was a concoction of soy sauce, garlic powder, sesame seeds and onion powder, which made for a flattering dumpling sauce.
Another starter, the Korean roll (not to be confused with Japanese sushi rolls), was too bland for my taste, even when I used the soy sauce mixture on it. Instead of raw fish, they were filled with pickled radishes, Bulgoki (a marinated pork, also known as Bulgogi), carrots, seaweed, crab and rice.
If you’re a fan of kimchee, a Korean specialty of pickled vegetables, you’ll enjoy the assortment of sides. There was the regular kimchee, which is usually pickled leeks, cucumber kimchee and radish kimchee, all slightly spicy and all reminded me of my mom’s days of pickling vegetables.
The other sides consisted of Korean coleslaw, which tasted like American coleslaw that had been sitting out for eight hours on the fourth of July, potatoes in a sweet sauce that made them taste like yams, two types of seaweed (one crunchy, the other slimy) and bean sprouts.
I ordered the spicy pork Bulgoki. It was in a sauce that tasted like a spicy honey barbecue sauce. It was brought out on a steaming cast iron plate situated on a wooden plank that made me feel like my money was well spent.
Min-Ga makes for a good date (I saw a few couples), but if you and/or your date value amazing service over anything else, this might not be the place for you. The service was atrocious in the beginning. We were barely glanced at when we walked in and I had to grab someone to see if we could be seated. We weren’t given any attention until well after the other half of my group arrived, and our drinks weren’t brought out until after our order had been taken.
Service did get progressively better after we ordered our food, however. The servers were friendly, my water glass was never empty for long, and our food was brought out at the appropriate times, but the lack of service in the beginning did leave me a little irked.
Beware: a meal is pricier than I thought it would be. With the appetizer, Bulgoki, and just water, my bill came to about $30, so expect to spend at least $25. Carry-out is available.