Duc and I got the fun opportunity to check out MooDaePo in Rowland Heights earlier this week for a media event hosted by the restaurant and Wendy from Wendyful World. Though it was definitely a tad ways away from our normal stomping grounds, it sounded like a good event to attend and meet other fellow Southern Californian bloggers and Yelpers. The place is located in a plaza with several other businesses but with ample parking set aside just for the restaurant.
Our event was held in the private room that MooDaePo reserves out to large groups that may wish to have a separate party. It came equipped with gear ready for even a karaoke night, complete with microphones and a huge screen. We were greeted and given the background by co-owner Jerry as well as welcomed by Wendy. Then there was a tour of the premises with an emphasis on how the grills without direct vents above them have a downward vent that will suck excess smoke and scents away from the food and the guests. That sounded like a great innovation for an AYCE Korean BBQ place so we were eager to check it out. Additionally, MooDaePo has the ability to zero in with a camera on any guests celebrating a special day! So if you feel like embarrassing your friends on the three big screens, you can let your waiter/waitress know, hah.
So let's get to the food since that's probably what you really care about! With 20+ banchan dishes made in house daily, MooDaePo has a lot to offer. We got a good amount of the selections though not everything because we simply could not get through everything. I must say that I wasn't entirely impressed with the ones that did come out however, regardless of whether or not I typically enjoy the dish. The general comment was just that they were a tad bland. For me, my most eaten dish at KBBQ places is the rice paper and unfortunately, this one came out too thick and in some cases, dry, with each refill. To be fair though, their cuts of meat really made up for it. Who needs the banchan when the main event is superb? Anyhow, we also got to try out their soju, and I loved every one of them. The yogurt was the table's favorite being sweet and smooth; the pomegranate and lemon options were dangerous in the sense that it really just was too refreshing and enjoyable to drink down (and easy like a soda!). There was also the beer tower with football helmet dispenser that seemed a bit cheesy to me but made sense once you saw the rest of the sports-oriented decor outside.
The cuts of meat were all so gorgeous. We were presented with a beautiful plate of marbled desires which our gracious server, Hannah, helped us out with during cooking. The most tantalizing to my eye was what they called Flower Steak but the best what we kept eating was their tender beef rib. Marinated in what must have been a combination of crack and deliciousness, the meat nearly melted in our mouths as we enjoyed our first few grills (they change them out pretty often to ensure that we aren't eating char).
It wasn't long before we became more adventurous and started ordering other things off of their menu such as beef tongue, spicy pork belly, baby octopus, and a slew of intestines. There is just something great about their marinades because all of the meats came out very well. We were also treated to two lunch special items of a sweet broth with bulgogi and a gorging-worthy kimchi fried rice. I was not too fond of a sweeter broth but others enjoyed that at the table; the kimchi fried rice was the preferred of the two among all of us nearby with whom I was dining. It gave a nice kick of spiciness but retained a manageable heat while we filled up on the vegetables and rice. Of course, we continued eating the various meats as we were finishing up our small portions of the lunch special items. Altogether, the four of us at our side of the table managed to get through 11 grills-worth of food. Isn't that nuts? As for the downward ventilation, I'm not sure if it was just the sheer amount of meat that we ordered but it didn't work as well as I had expected; we still got some smoke in our faces and left smelling like all that we cooked.
Though the eating continued throughout the night, we were also given the special appearance of Chef Jin himself who hand slices all of the meat to order. Doesn't that give you a better feeling about going to this for your KBBQ needs? It isn't frozen meat that they bring out whenever you make an order; here's the skilled man who slices it fresh for you. We watched as he deftly dispatched with some rib in all its glorious marbled beauty. What an honor we had to view his skillful knife handling.
Overall, a great evening with good food. My thanks to the great crew at MooDaePo, particularly Ben and Hannah, for being good sports with the big group and keeping a cheery attitude the whole time. If you're interested in going, MooDaePo Rowland Heights is located at 1725 S Nogales St, Rowland Heights, CA 91748. Thank you to Wendy for the invitation!
Photography by Duc Duong. More photos are available on Facebook.