Genghis Khan. A term that means “universal king”, was given to a young man named Temujin. Temujin was successful in uniting all Mongol Tribes in the year 1202. By the year 1227, Temujin had led the largest allied army in the world, invading Russia, China, Southern Asia and Eastern Europe. Quite a feat for one man. Amidst all the fighting, Genghis Khan must’ve stopped along the road and said, “Man, I’m f*&!king hungry.” Interestingly enough, if it wasn’t for the Mongolians, we wouldn’t have a few favorites within the Asian Culture.
During his reign, he invaded Northeastern Asia, which neighbors Shandong and Korea. Because the Mongolians were almost always on the road tormenting armies and villagers, it was hard to lug a kitchen stadium through the Gobi desert. So what was their oh-so-clever, response? Slap the metal shields over the campfire and grill meat. Thus we have Mongolian BBQ, which I assume led to everyone’s favorite, Korean barbeque. Another interesting fact. Genghis Khan went as far south as Vietnam and carried with him many types of spices. Two of them being cinnamon and star anise. And as we all know, what’s better than having soup in a cold winter after bludgeoning and dismembering a whole army. Soup! The Mongolians would use their helmets as pots and boil soup with their spices. Another assumption that the Vietnamese adapted this recipe to produce another favorite for hungover people, Pho! (Which uses star anise and cinnamon sticks.) Thank you Genghis for heavenly barbeque, shabu-shabu hot-pot and soup!
778 years later, people are still employing the genius cooking methods of Genghis Khan. Well at least the 11 of us were. As well as the owner of the unbelievable Manna Korean BBQ on Olympic Blvd. For $14.99, Manna unleashes a smorgasbord of all-you-can-eat-before-you-puke beef, pork and chicken.
On Friday, we all met up at 8:30 pm and waited a good 45 minutes before being seated. I seriously felt like I was in Asia. A canopy hung over a hall of 300+ carnivores, drinking, laughing and smoking. It was a beautiful scene of barbarianism.
We started off with the essentials: Hite. Lots of it. And let me tell you, the food may be $14.99, but Manna gets you on the alcohol. So drink in moderation. We had 3 grills to ourselves and 3 settings of baan chaan.
As soon as the beer started pouring, we caught eyes on the pink, marbled meat being brought to us. We ordered the kalbi beef, which did not come with bones, and thin-sliced beef (I think it’s ‘cha-dol-peggi’). The kalbi beef isn’t flavored and just tastes bland. Nix to that. The real stuff is the thin-sliced beef. I personally like it because it’s the same cut of beef from Yoshinoya. Only that Yoshinoya probably uses zebra meat. (Joke.) I stared to stuff my face with 5-6 slices of beef at a time, dipping it in the salt/pepper/sesame oil sauce generously.
Gary then told me the better way to eat it. Take the square-cut rice noodle and add beef, lettuce, bean paste and sesame oil. Eat it like a taco. Now that was good looking out. I figured I should trust the guy since he almost ate at Manna 3 times in one week. He’s currently on P.E.T.A.’s most wanted list.
A great joke to play on unsuspecting people is the erroneous birthday song. We picked the weakest, most vulnerable-to-clowning of the pack and told the waitress to sing him a song. Haha. And within 5 minutes, a terrible, Korean-techno version of “Happy Birthday” blared through the Radio Shack speakers. It was awful. And to think, someone ACTUALLY bought this off iTunes for $0.99. Our waitress then came out with a candle and cheap champagne. She lit the candle and shook up the bottle to give some to the birthday boy, but instead, ended up giving one of our other friend, Dan, a nice cheap-champagne bath. The next thing we know, the whole dining hall starts clapping and cheering for him. It was hilarious. Gosh, drunk people consider anything to be entertainment. They might as well have brought out some midgets and balloon-shaping clowns.
After 13 plates of beef, 21 beers and cheap champagne, our bill came out to about $33 a person. Manna is definitely one of the better Korean barbeque buffets. If you’re in Orange County, you can read up on Seoul Garden in Tustin. I think we did some major damage to Manna, as well as our stomachs. I won't get into the details of the rest of my night, but let's just say, my body hates me. The original plan was to go bowling. Yeah right. Half of us didn’t even know where the hell we were. We had been so disoriented by the exorbitant intake of beef. Our blood had rushed down to process the intestinal madness going on, leaving us quite comatose. I am not going back to Manna for a good year. The thought of beef is unpleasant right now.
But as we drove back to West LA, I looked up into the heavens, and I saw a helmet-and-axe-bearing, Asian man, smiling and giving me the thumbs up
Genghis Khan: “Good shit, huh?”
Me: “Yeah, good shit.”
Manna Korean BBQ
3377 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90019
Monday, October 17, 2005
Posted by e d b m at 7:23 PM