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Manna Korean Cuisine

3377 W. Olympic Blvd,  Los Angeles, Calif. 90019 | 323-733-8516 | www.mannakoreanbbq.com

Short ribs and brisket grill up to a nice, tender crisp on the tabletop grill at our table at Manna in Los Angeles.

I had heard a lot of great things about Manna even from one of the people I just met volunteering at the registration booth at the Asian American Journalists Association convention in Hollywood.

All the raves made me think this was an upscale restaurant so I was surprised when I walked into an outdoor area set up with long picnic tables.Korean BBQ refers to being able to grill meats directly at the table you are seated at. This allows you to grill meats the way that you like it and eat directly off the grill if you want to.

But the place was bustling even when we got there around 9:30 p.m. on a Thursday. I brought along several friends who wanted to try Korean bbq: Johnny Liu, Ruth Liao, Mariecar Mendoza, Raymund Flandez and Reena Advani. The only person that had any experience was Johnny and he was our tour guide through the eight different meats on the menu.

We tried them all and they included  boneless short ribs,  spicy boneless short ribs,  beef brisket, pork bulgogi, pork belly, spicy chicken bulgogi, chicken bulgogi and beef bulgogi.

And we had all the sides to go with the tender, delicious meats. They included kimchi, glass noodles, potato salad, steamed broccoli, soybean sprouts,  radish muchae,  fishcake and cabbage kimchi. They also include two kinds of wraps for your meats: rice paper wraps and radish wraps. And three dipping sauces: soy sauce, sesame oil and hot pepper sauce.

You’d think this was a lot of food for the six of us but we inhaled it. Something about grilling in the open air amid the chaotic, carnival atmosphere of Manna encouraged huge quanties of food, drink and laughter.

But if you are having a birthday and come here to celebrate it be careful because you just may drown in the champagne they shower you in. Literally. The lucky birthday boy or girl is seated at your table but away from the rest of the party because the wait staff douses you with wine they spray directly out of the bottles – about 4-6 bottoles of the champagne while they sing to you and the rest of the restaurants stare at you open-mouthed and transfixed. When you are finished you are drenched with champagne from head to toe and the wait staff kindly gives you three paper towels to dry yourself off. Is it your birthday?

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