With Lynn in Canada for six months, it was high time for a catch up and we were craving Korean so we thought we’d check out Madang, which replaced the very popular Middle Eastern Café, on Wellesley Street.
It was nothing flash interior-wise but warm and welcoming on a rainy Auckland night. The service was friendly and very helpful and the smiley waitress happily went back and forth into the kitchen to clarify menu items for us.
We ordered the Fried Chicken Nibbles ($12 for six), Stir Fried Pork Belly with Kimchi ($16), Dolsot-Bibimbap ($13) and Vegetable Pancake ($15) and the last three dishes came with the usual assortment of sides – always a highlight of Korean meals for me.
Service was prompt and on the whole we were happy, but maybe not quite bowled over. I always ask myself ‘would I come back here?’ And my answer is yes – if I was in the area – and yes definitely for the Pork belly with Kimchi dish, which I’m still excited about days later. The other dishes were perfectly nice but were all a touch under-powered flavour wise.
The Vegetable Pancake was crispy and (despite its name) contained squid and mussels as well as vegetables. It was perfectly golden but lacked salt or something else to lift it up a bit. The chicken suffered a similar fate – lovely and moist on the inside, deep fried crispy coating on the outside, but it just lacked some salt and spices for flavour.
The Bibimbap was good (ordinary without the chilli sauce but nice once added) and had the usual combination of beef, mushrooms, courgette, carrot and sprouts. I was little disappointed to find that despite being cooked in a hot pot it didn’t have the crisped rice effect at the bottom. In all honesty, I’m not sure if that’s something Koreans look for but there’s always a fight in my family for that golden crispy rice at the base.
As I said, I’m still thinking about the Stir-Fried Kimchi pork. I love Kimchi and Pork Belly so this was always going to be a winning combo for my tastes. The spice and slight acidity of the kimchi was the perfect complement to the rich fattiness of the pork which was tender and beautifully cooked, The onion gave the third textural contrast and the dish was a total winner.
Out of all the side dishes, the lotus root and bean sprouts were my pick. The lotus root had good flavour and tasted like it had a mirin, soy, sugar caramelised glaze on it and I’m a huge fan of the simple bean sprouts cooked in garlic and salt the Koreans do so beautifully.
If you’re look for filling, hearty Korean food in the city, Madang would be great for a quick bite – but I perhaps wouldn’t cross town for it. The cooking techniques are great, the service is lovely and the food is fresh, you’ll just need to employ that soy dispenser and chilli sauce a bit!