It’s Korean Barbecue…with Tokyo in the name…in Sawtelle Japantown.
This is going to sound weird, because I actually liked the place. (I’m talking about Manpuku Tokyo BBQ in Sawtelle Japantown, by the way.)
Now, from the outside it looks…pretty much like your run of the mill Yakiniku place (Yakiniku translates as “Grilled Meat”.)
But I’m here now…and I’m being served…Banchan?
And there’s a lunch special that features Bibimbap?
Okay, that’s uh…that’s pretty Korean.
Not that I mind Korean. (Are you kidding me? Have you seen this blog??) It’s just that ye olde mental gyroscope was keyed in for some Japanese. And…here is…
Wow is that Kimchi?
Manpuku Tokyo BBQ is a chain, an international chain from what I can tell. There are other locations in Torrance and Costa Mesa, so they know what they’re doing.
The space itself is small. The tables and spaces are kind of folded in on top of one another so that, even there’s a party right next to you, you’d never know it. The decor is dark and intimate. I’d really like to know what this place is like at Dinner, because my gut tells me this is a pretty good date place…
So, of course, I came to visit…for lunch.
Hey, you knew there was a reason I’m a top Food Blogger.
There are some good specials available for larger parties, and yes…I came here by myself as well.
Look, you can get a good sized lunch for not a lot of money and will be able to leave without the assistance of a fork lift.
It is a memorable, will-crawl-over-broken-glass to get back in here quality? No. It’s just fine. Good deal. Good value.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: I don’t know if Manpuku Tokyo BBQ’s going to set the world on fire, but they’ve got a really nice Lunch Special. I went the Bibimbap route, thought it didn’t exactly look like Bibimbap to me.
My understanding of Bibimbap was that it was “Hot Stone” cooking. So I got a bowl of Rice, what looked like some minced Daikon, some Nori, some sprouts and some Spinach into a nice little bowl…as basically a salad. It tasted actually pretty nice. It just wasn’t my traditional definition of Bibimbap.
I also got a frosty mug of Sapporo, because…why not? (#BourdainReference) A small little helping of Kimchi as my Banchan and a small house salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing.
The but the star of the show as the Spicy Beef Udon Soup, and this was pretty good. It’s a fiery red sauce with thick, luscious Udon Noodles, Tofu hunk and wild onion. Yes, there is a little bit of beef in there, and just the right amount. Good news, it’s a little peppery, it’s not overwhelmingly Holy-crap-someone-find-me-a-fire-extinguisher hot. I’d say it as comparable to the Spicy Beef Soup I had at Kim’s Kitchen, but the Udon made it just a touch nicer.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Well know you’re really going into more of a Korean restaurant than a Japanese one. That’s fine, there are more than a few Korean places in Sawtelle Japantown, but “Tokyo” in the name might throw you off.
PARKING: Manpuku Tokyo BBQ, like it’s neighbor Tatsu Ramen, is located in a small strip mall with…what seems at first to be a plentiful barrage of parking, but…truth be told, the place is constantly busy with many other fine restaurants to take advantage of. The best…and truth be told, only thing to do is use their Valet service, which operates for all the establishments in that strip mall. The Service is free, and relies on Tips for the Drivers. Make sure you tip them well.
Manpuku Tokyo BBQ
2125 Sawtelle Blvd.
West Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tel: (310) 473-0580
Daily: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:00 – 10:30 pm