I'm an Adelaide comms professional and I love to share my dining experiences. Although I'm a vego my husband isn't so my reviews often include his meaty meals.
Published January 31st 2012
Recently, we treated ourselves with dinner at Mapo Korean Restaurant on Gouger Street. Memories from a family dinner there a few years ago had me salivating all day. I remember that we loved every dish at Mapo, one of the classier restaurants amongst the fabulous mix of Asian eateries on the strip.
The wine selection by the glass was limited but the overall variety of the list was impressive, including some good boutique wines. My husband, who's in the wine industry, was pleasantly surprised to find a 2009 Teusner 'The Independent' Shiraz Mataro by the glass. It was a superb drop, a lighter style blend, very food friendly with a nose reminiscent of fresh summer berries.
Ordering our entrees was a quick exercise. There was only one vegetarian dish but it sounded delicious - chilli mushroom wontons filled with shitake and swiss brown mushrooms, garlic chives and tofu, covered with a spicy mushroom garlic sauce. Unfortunately the dish was dominated by the onion and garlic and the alluring hero, the mushroom, was overpowered. My husband had the ginger pork balls, lightly battered and served with a lime chilli sauce, avocado, basil and capsicum. They were crunchy on the outside and moist and juicy inside without too much fat. The chilli sauce concealed the ginger flavour but overall it was a great starter.
The vegetarian option for main was limited to dullsot bibimbap (rice, sliced potato, a medley of marinated vegetables and egg). Our waitress wasn't knowledgeable in alternatives and when she returned from checking with the chef couldn't explain the tofu steak I was offered, so I settled on the rice. We also ordered a side of Asian vegetables in a creamy teriyaki sauce. The bibimbap comes served in a stone bowl as it continues to cook at the table, frying the egg to produce a delicious crust. The crispiness never materialised though and thus the egg was runny and too overwhelming for me to stomach. I ate most of the side serve of vegetables instead. They were insanely good and I wished I hadn't wasted our money on the bibimbap which went almost untouched. I'm not an egg lover though, so my main might appeal more to others.
My husband ordered the roasted duck with tempura vegetables and pumpkin purée. Although the duck was just slightly overcooked, the flavour won him over and went terrifically with the pumpkin. The tempura vegetables were perfectly battered, without tasting too oily. He was impressed with his meal.
And I wasn't too disappointed that by eating less I could fit dessert in, from Gelatissimo next door.
There were some great moments at Mapo and we all have our off nights, so based on my first experience there combined with this less impressive one, I think 7/10 is fair.
I should mention that they are an award winning restaurant, with a list of accolades, including winner of the 2011 "Award for Excellence" Best Asian Restaurant in SA. All the meat-eaters I know who've dined there have walked away giving rave reviews.
Maybe not heaven for vegetarians but certainly one to add to the list.