Mandu hosts a late night pop-up on the first Friday of each month called “Anju,” which features Korean bar snacks from guest chefs and bartenders. Anju occurs from 10pm-1pm at the K street location, first come first serve. This past pop-up on November 7th featured a menu from Bar Pilar’s chef, Jesse Miller who partnered with Vermillion’s chef, Will Morris. The drinks came from Ben Wiley and Noah Broaddus (also from Bar Pilar/ Saint Ex).
This was my first time trying Anju! I went my real roommate, JM, and was later joined by my fake roommate, AL, and her boyfriend. I started with “A taste of Korea in Louisville,” a cocktail with sesame oil infused bourbon and vermouth. I love the smell, taste, and thought of sesame oil so I had no complaints. My extremely picky roommate (he actually refuses to eat Pizzeria Paradiso because he thinks their crust is sub-par) approved of this drink as well. At first, I claimed I would be ordering only one dish because I am trying to cut down on unnecessary late night eating, but after a few seconds looking through the menu I asked JM if we could maybe perhaps we could split a few things. In the end, we ordered six dishes. So much for cutting back (#firstworldproblem).
- Oxtail terrine: I liked the combination of the grainy terrine with the spicy kimchi. This is not something I would normally gravitate to, but still a good starter.
- Spicy octopus salad: this was my least favorite dish and JM’s favorite. It didn’t have enough character in my opinion, but JM liked the crunch from the peanuts and the lightness of the dish compared to our other plates.
- Jako jako (silken tofu with dried anchovy): the most interesting dish. I hate bland tofu, but this tofu was spicy from the shishito peppers and the anchovy added nice salty element.
- Ankimono (fried rice with duck egg): this was my favorite dish! I always have a tender sport in my heart for carb-heavy dishes, but I especially love mixing the runny duck egg into the rice.
- Bo ssam: the roasted pork belly was pretty good. It was a tad dry for my taste (sliced pretty thin), but still flavorful.
- Chicken wings: these were fantastic. The skin was light and perfectly crunchy while the meat was juicy and sweet.
Overall, I really liked the whole Anju experience. It gives me a whole new perspective of the cooking from a specific chef (after all, this is nothing like the bar food I tend to order at Pilar), the bartenders had extremely unique drink options, and everyone who came out was excited to be there. It was surprisingly crowded, and now I know to come as early as possible for the next pop-ups. I am definitely coming back.