LA has horrible traffic, smog, and let’s face it, sometimes where you live makes getting together on a regular basis quite difficult. My friends…I have a centrally located and joyous solution. May I introduce the Mecca of Korean BBQ joints, Manna Korean BBQ—where you will smell like a campfire, eat unlimited amounts of meat and can even enjoy a little champagne to start your weekend.
As soon as you sit down, you’ll see the table is laden with goodies like kim chi, potato pancakes, small veggie plates and rice paper. Each person has their own little plates of sauces in which to dip the food. Make no mistake about it, this place is not for the faint of heart.
There’s something warm and inviting about communal eating. Everyone serves themselves and each other. As soon as a giant beer is empty, another one arrives. As soon as your glass is empty, it is refilled. This is how eating should be—it’s social, it’s gregarious and loud. It results in smiles, in raised voices and in full stomachs. If you fancy yourself a big eater, this is the place for you (because they will keep bringing you platters of meat until the button bursts off of your pants).
The highlight of the evening, however, is more than just the food and the friends. It’s the birthday celebration. When the poorly equipped speakers start their drum roll and traditional Korean music, the regulars at Manna know what is about to happen and immediately move at least five feet away from the ‘birthday boy.’ Why? A waiter arrives with a bottle of champagne, stands atop a chair, shakes the contents and then proceeds to empty the entire bottle on the person celebrating the birthday. It’s riotously funny for everyone in your party and regulars at other tables, but it immediately strikes fear in those at other tables who are also there celebrating a birthday.
So for a great evening, bring your appetite, a great attitude and a big group of friends. Oh, and bring a change of clothes. Why? Because, even if you’re not soaked in champagne, you do smell like you’ve been camping. Don’t forget to ask your waiter where the best karaoke bar is in Koreatown. We always rent a private room and rock out! Don’t stop believin’.
TIP: For a more civilized Korean BBQ experience, check out Dong Il Jang, one of the city’s best.
Manna Korean BBQ. 3377 W. Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles, CA. 323-733-8516
Dong II Jang. 3455 W. 8th Street. Los Angeles, CA. 213-383-5757