Saturday, August 2, 2008

Jajangmyeon Mania at Mani 1 Chinese Restuarant

Mani 1, or ChoiRyongMong as it's written in Korean (취령몽), is a relatively new Korean style Chinese restaurant located where Mesa Sur, one of the only South American eateries within walking distance to downtown Flushing folded after only three or four months in business. Unlike it's predecessor, Mani 1 seems like it will do just fine, catering to the neighborhood.

Much how Chinese food in America has been adapted to meet local, American taste buds, so too has Chinese food in Korea been creatively altered to the Korean pallet. Probably the prime example being the scrumptious "noodles in black sauce" dish, jajangmyeon (짜장면), which can be found right here at Mani 1 (lunch $4.99/regular $5.99; item #56 on the menu).

Mani 1 has a pretty solid jajangmyeon. It isn't quite the best dish on the menu here but it's not a bad place to start.

The other two quintessential dishes that you'll find at just about any "Chinese-style" restaurant in Seoul (or more importantly, Flushing) are jampong (짬뽕, $5.99/$6.99; #59) and tangsuyuk (탕수육, $5.99/$12.99; #31). The first one, jampong, is a seriously spicy bowl full of thick noodles, chives, and all kinds of seafood, like shrimp, squid, clams, and octopus, in a peppery red soup. But the real winner at Mani 1 is the tangsuyuk, ( like sweet and sour pork). But it's only truly great when you order their spicy version, meun tangsuyuk, (only, of course, if you like your spicy spicy!). It's not in the menu, but there's a picture of it on the wall in the restaurant. It's one the spicest dishes around. Avoid the naengmyeon here. Despite being advertised in Korean and Chinese under the restaurant's main sign, it's really a disappointment. For where to go for good naengmyun read this.

Sure there's better jajangmyeon in Flushing, but Mani 1's spicy tangsuyuk makes for some of the best tangsuyuk around. Go with friends and mix and match: a dish of jajangmyeon, a spicy tangsuyuk, and a bowl of jampong, so you can share and get a satisfying taste of all three (the tangsuyuk serving is too big for one person).

Give Mani 1 a shot if your a newbie to the genre of Korean style Chinese food.
40-26 Union Street at the intersection of 41st Avenue (1.5 blocks to the 7 train Main St. stop).

Service: A
Price: B
Dilectability: B+

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