Blink and you miss Koreatown in Lauderhill, with its Asian markets and restaurants serving traditional fare.
Manna Korean is a destination for fans of the robust, texturally balanced, spicy dishes of the South Korean peninsula. It offers barbecue (beef short ribs, pork belly, chicken), but rather than cooking it yourself over gas burners, it is grilled in the kitchen and brought to the table with romaine leaves for wrapping after smearing in fermented bean paste and adding sliced garlic.
The mom-and-pop team of Tae Kho and wife Young run the place that offers home-style dishes. The couple came from Seoul 20 years ago and ran an import-clothing business, but when the economy soured they turned to cooking the food of their homeland, opening Manna three years ago. They named it for the biblical food that sustained the Israelites in the exodus from Egypt, but it also happens to mean “tasty” in Korean.
Dishes like soon seafood soup made with soft creamy tofu (the soon) with shrimp and clams; clay pot stews with noodles or dumplings with seafood or meat called jigae; and japchae (stir-fried sweet potato starch glass noodles) with cloud ear mushrooms, vegetables and beef all sustain the body and soul.
There’s also haemul jun (pancakes made from rice and wheat flour) embedded with kimchi or bits of shrimp and scallions served with spicy soy vinegar dip. Dolsot bibimbap brings a hot black stone bowl filled with sticky rice topped with vegetables, bean sprouts and a raw egg. When the bowl ceases sizzling mix everything together with chile paste, digging up the crispy bits of the rice crust on the bottom. Every table gets mit banchan, tiny side dishes (marinated soy bean sprouts, fish cake salad, cucumber kimchi).
With patbingsu (shaved red bean ice) topped with fruit and ice cream this is Korean manna from heaven in South Florida.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.