Min Dong Korean Restaurant
No. 4, Lane 107, Alley 5, Fu Xing South Road, Sec 1
website: mindong.com.tw Chinese and Korean only. English section not active.
dinner only: 5:30PM - 12 AM
Kid friendliness: no high chairs and be careful with lots of bbq beef grills on the table.
Visit reviewed: 6/27/2007 & 8/2/2007
Looking over my pictures, they really don't do justice to the discovery of this authentic and delicious Korean restaurant which is just a hop, skip and alley away from Sogo on Zhong Xiao East Road.
Recommended by some good friends (and first I'd ever heard of it, not having seen anything online about it before), Min Dong lived up to the flavors and offered a range of foods I had eaten in Korea. The menu has pictures of everything (as well as English of the Korean names, Chinese) so that you can decide if you want to order off the menu, grill or hot pot.
It's also a nice enough restaurant that you can bring guests or linger all over food and beer all night. You might notice when you first come in, the wall of photos of local celebrity customers as well as more than a few trendily dressed customers sitting at the tables. The seating is crowded, but not tight, but when it's crowded, everyone's conversations overlap over each other, so that it might be hard to hear the conversation at your own table.
From the mini dishes of pan chan, thin slices of meat or seafood to grill and wrap in lettuce, bim bim bap, seafood pancake, cold chewy noodles, spicy tofu soup and bulgobi, it's best to bring more people so you can share and try more things. Everything usually arrives fairly quickly to the table in waves, so if you order a lot, a table for 6 can accomodate 1 grill and 1 hotpot or 2 grills.
The seafood pancake (NT$250) is huge, served steaming hot and cut in 12 bitesize crispy thick pieces. It is so good that I want to eat more than my allotted pieces, but I know that I won't be able to eat anything else if I do.
Those of you that read regularly now that I LOVE LOVE LOVE the icy vinegary and sweet naeng myun that I ate in Pusan and have been trying to find elsewhere ever since. I was able to find a decent bowl in Yong He, but that takes a lot more manuevering to get out to that area for me. So instead, until Min Dong adds it to their menu, I will eat the naeng myun mixed with hot sauce and vegetables.
There are two spicy cold noodles on the menu, so be sure to get No. 12 which is the chewy bim bim naeng myun (NT$200) that is more spicy than sweet with a few ice cubes hanging out.
You can also get spicy tofu soup in a bowl or a whole guo that they bring out pre-made to simmer on your table. The large tofu soup has tofu, golden and shitake mushrooms, assorted seafood, and even slippery udon that is hard to scoop out with the ladle. Even though we asked for hsiao la or low spiciness, it was still very spicy for me.
So.. what to grill? I would recommend the ala carte meats over the beef platter (NT$800).. personally I really liked the beef tongue and the kalbi beef which is served boneless and sliced. We were lucky to have a server who helped expertly grill it and not overcook the beef, using the tongs to quickly flip over the meat and fold it over on the edges of the grill and serve it when it was done.
The scallops were buttery and cooked in the small tin bowl.
Also, when we added the bulgobi, we weren't sure how to cook the seasoned beef on top of the moat of vegetables and soup. Rather than putting it on the grill, they will bring out a whole low dome shaped hot pot to place next to the grill. After the hostess told us to just put it in the soup and another waiter just unhelpfully told us to cook it, we waved over our favorite waiter, who not only rescued the beef from the soup ("drier is better" he suggested), he also brought over little bowls and soy sauce and garlic to dip it in.
It's amazing the difference that good service makes- it's those little touches that make you come back, or not.
If I wasn't so full, I would have scooped up the vermicelli and tofu and mushrooms bathing on the sides to eat. But I had to save room for the free ice cream! The restaurant offers free self scoop ice cream in a little freezer in the back usually with 4-6 flavors offered.
I've now been to Min Dong twice and would strongly recommend that you make a reservation a day ahead or in advance that day if you want to be seated sooner than later. Its forty or so seats and private rooms were packed to capacity both times and the second time, we still waited about 20 minutes because we had made our reservation only a few hours beforehand, along with about 10 other people waiting for a table. Min Dong is the kind of place you want to go with a group of friends to enjoy the good food, but also that way the more people you have, the more variety you can eat.