Since it’s my job to constantly find hidden gems in and around Seoul, I try to avoid going to the same restaurants, save some local fried chicken joints. So, it’s surprising that I’ve found myself at this modest, family-run Chinese restaurant three times within a two-week span. Although this doesn’t technically qualify as Korean food — even calling it fusion is a stretch — I’m letting this pass because the food is just that damn food and not sharing it would be selfish of me.
Here at King 수제만두 (King Handmade Dumplings), they specialize in amazing dumplings and one of my current favorites: Mapo Tofu. This is not a Koreanized version (which isn’t bad at all) and instead shows all signs of authentic Sichuan — salty, fiery, and umami-rich coming from the fermented doubanjiang sauce and chili peppers. There was more heat than I was accustomed to, but it was the type of spicy that you can find yourself getting addicted to. The rich, savory sauce along with the soft cubes of tofu and ground pork were so delicious. The plump and juicy dumplings, which we ordered one of each (pan-fried and steamed), were equally as impressive — stuffed full of veggies, pork, and seafood. And finally the kicker: all three dishes totaling a mere 18,000 won, or 6,000 won per dish.
Curiosity was sparked after inhaling their terrific food, so I asked a few questions to the owners, which I got blank faces. Then I realized the place is run by a young Chinese couple and their mother, still less than a year of operation near Sinseol-dong Station, Exit 2. Although they couldn’t answer some of my questions, they were more than okay with me taking photos of kitchen operations. Besides these two standout dishes, they have other offerings that I can’t wait to try out. However, if you like Mapo Tofu (and dumplings) as much as me, you will absolutely fall in love with this place.
Food: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Service: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Ambiance: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Value: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
King Sujae Mandu 킹수제만두
Sinseol-dong 80-4, Dongdaemun-gu (서울 동대문구 신설동 80-4)
Hours: Open every day 10:00 am ~ 10:00 pm except Mondays