Mahdang

When my husband and I were visiting my grandmother in Austin recently, we kept marveling at the traffic, or rather, the lack thereof. I live in DC, so I was consistently allotting 45 minutes to drive 5 miles, but it turns out that driving 5 miles in Austin takes all of, like, 8 minutes. After we came back, I saw Austinians complaining about the Austin traffic in the comments of some article. Ughhhhh people, you don’t even know. YOU DON’T. EVEN. KNOW.

The point of that rant was to make it clear that I DON’T go to Rockville by choice because this is DC and whyyyyyyy does it take an hour to drive 15 miles (on a Saturday no less)? How does this even count as the DC area? I won’t even go there for dim sum unless I have some other errand to do there that I absolutely can’t do anywhere closer. That was the issue yesterday afternoon.

I did my research and we ended up at Mahdang, excited about the many grilled meats I was about to consume. Mahdang is wedged between carpet stores and construction companies, a literal hole in the wall. The saddest thing that happened was when we realized that this was not going to be tableside KBBQ. We decided to stick it out anyways.

We settled on the taeji bulgogi immediately and then hemmed and hawed about what else to get. Would an appetizer be enough? My husband didn’t want soup. Noodles are always too much. I asked the waitress/chef/restaurant mom/probably owner for her recommendation and she told us to get the spicy bulgogi. Okay. So two bulgogis. Sure.

The accompaniment/snack trays arrived first. Immediate winners: spinach salad, cold bean sprouts, and, of course, the kimchi.

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The taeji bulgogi arrived first–sweet-hot, saucy pork and crunchy veggies. Like American BBQ.

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The spicy bulgogi arrived a few minutes later. I’m pretty glad we took the recommendation; these two dishes couldn’t be more different. It wasn’t that spicy, but had a deep sesame flavor and very tender beef. I will be reproducing this with, I’m sure, limited success at home.

For the second night in a row, we had enough food to take home for two additional meals.

Price: $25 per person.

Bottom line: When next you’re forced into the abyss of outer suburbia, make your way to Mahdang for some tasty meats.

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