Tucked away down a cobbled passage way close to Stowell Street is Mannaza, billed as a Korean Grill House. We’d wanted to try it out for a number of years but had wondered whether our ‘fussiness’ would be accommodated. Even before the veganism I wasn’t sure if I had the stomach for Octopus or Beef Tongue! Those of a similar disposition to myself will be relieved to see the more familiar Katsu and Donburi feature on the menu as an alternative.Part of my own trepidation had been the vast array of dishes to chose from. It can be quite overwhelming being presented with such a selection and none of the group really knew where to start. The USP of Mannaza is the hot stone grill where diners cook their own food. This is something I’d previously encountered in Gramado, Brazil, as part of a fondue experience I will never forget. While we go out to restaurants for a chef to cook for us, there’s a certain ‘quirkiness’ in being handed the raw ingredients and sorting out your own supper.
This sort of interactive dining experience is great when out with friends. Not all of the group were veggie like us, which meant an assortment of meals were ordered and cooked in different manners.It can be a bit of a minefield for those with dietary requirements, and it would be great to see a separate menu to allay fears about fish sauce, etc. Nudo, which is located not too far away, are brilliant for this and often highly recommend it to those who are vegetarian and vegan for this reason.The Kimchi had a good whack of heat and was one the best we’ve tried around. Always a good idea to check whether this fermented cabbage side is made without seafood. The umami flavour can be added by substituting seaweed and I wish restaurants would do this to make their dishes suitable for a wide range of requirements.
Our friend rated the Bibimbap, a rice dish featuring an assortment of vegetables and meat that is topped with a fried or raw egg usually. Mannaza went for the egg yolk here. Not sure I’d have been keen, regardless of the veganism!
Apart from feeling apprehensive about the menu, the food was delicious. The Tofu Stew we ordered was brought out to cook on a portable hob. The only other complaint was that this happened as our dining companions were finishing their plates of food, while we had to wait around 15 minutes for the dish to cook.
It may have been a relatively simple dish but it was packed with flavour. It would have been good for the whole table to have been eating similar dishes to share in the interactivity of it and not to have been waiting round for us to finish, but hey ho.
Some of our friends were so impressed with the food and experience that they returned for a birthday meal, so it is clear the charm of the staff and the food won them over. If you like Fujiyama and Hana Hana definitely give this place a try.
Thanks for reading,