In the mood for something different, I stopped into Mama’s Korean restaurant on the east side. Several readers have recommended it as very good Korean food. I have to say, I haven’t quite found my vibe with Korean food yet, but I can see the potential.
I ordered off of the lunch menu because they have very good
prices and you get soup along with the main dish. The prices range from $6-10 or so. The soup was a very basic egg drop soup which I have often had in Chinese restaurants. It is a chicken broth based soup with beaten eggs dropped into it which cooks the eggs lightly. It is sort of like scrambled eggs in broth. There were some scallions mixed in as well, but nothing else. The flavor was quite elemental—the broth and egg was basically the extent of it, but I liked the simplicity of it.
For my main dish I went with a traditional Korean dish—bulgogi. Bulgogi is thinly sliced and marinated beef which is then usually grilled. The marinade can vary, but is soy based. I have to say, when mine came out (served with rice and sautéed veggies) I thought I wasn’t going to like it at all. It looked like the meat would be tough and chewy. I was pleasantly surprised by the tenderness of it. You could certainly taste the soy base in the marinade. As I ate it, the meat continued to remind me of something I had before in its texture—by the time I finished, I realized it was the consistency of the meat in Italian beef sandwiches. It had that almost lacy quality of well marbled beef that Italian beef has. Again, it was simple, and not amazing or anything, but better than I expected. The veggies on the side included mushrooms, broccoli and onions which were nice to add a little more flavor into the beef. The rice was nice and sticky, which is how I like it.
You are also served, simultaneously with the meal, several banchan, or Korean side dishes as well. I was served four. One was the most traditional and well-known dishes—kimchi which is cabbage that has been pickled and fermented. This one had a lot of spicy red pepper on it, but while it was spicy, was not out of control. A bit if it along with the meat was nice as well. Two of the other side dishes included quite a bit of the same red chili laced oil. One was cubes of turnip and the other zucchini slices. They were fine, but after awhile started to taste very similar to me because of that chili sauce. The fourth dish was a nice counterpoint—thin threads of more turnip, but marinated in a slightly sweet, slightly sour sauce. This was a refreshing change to the red chili.
I enjoyed my lunch, but nothing really stood out to me. The service was super efficient and friendly, and the place was doing a decent lunch business, but I wouldn’t be clamoring to go back. They also have the Korean barbeque tables where you cook food yourself which might be kind of fun to try as well. But honestly, I can’t quite figure out if I just don’t really like Korean food that much, or if I just haven’t had really good Korean yet. I am not sure. But so far neither of the Indy Korean places I have been to have tempted me back for a second visit. I would love to hear what you all think.
Mama’s House Korean Restaurant
8867 Pendleton Pike