If there's anything that we've all learned in the last day or two, it's that if you don't take a picture of it, it didn't happen. And if you never met the girl in real life, you's a dumbass catfish. You would think that in 2013, people know enough about the internet to kinda know better... but the only thing that disappears faster than Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend are some fresh mandoos from Daheen Wang Mandoo. Very similar to the bao-like mandoos from Bunch, the ones from Daheen Wang are very similar and better because they are at least $0.50 cheaper for the time being. The thing about New York is that prices change very fast, therefore it's possible the $2 price tag for mandoos at Daheen Wang are just an introductory price. I'm not sure though.
In terms of size and heft of the mandoos at Daheen Wang, they rival that of Bunch. Where the two competing shops differ is in their selection of mandoo filling. On the day I went, Daheen Wang did not have all the flavors available. For example, the menu listed pizza as a choice of mandoor filling, but it wasn't available. In fact, the only ones available were House Original (pork), Kalbi, and kimchi.
The house classic mandoo was very much like a traditional Chinese bao with pork filling. So if you're more familiar with those things, and you like those flavors, this is the mandoo to get. The main difference between the Korean mandoo filling and the Chinese bao filling is that most of the time, the meat filling in a bao is like a meatball. In the mandoo, it's more like a loose filling. There's some sweet potato noodles or glass noodles in there as well.
There were some comments at Midtown Lunch about how the mandoos are sour or vinegary. First I just want to say there's 3 comments. First by a person who only posted two comments ever on ML, and the second one was a negative comment posted by an account created day of the comment. Third comment was a positive comment posted by an account created day of the comment as well. So... Maybe there's some cyber competition between people who run Bunch and Daheen Wang. Just a guess. But yes, there is a slight vinegary taste to the House Original and Kimchi mandoos. It's not overpowering or super annoying. Obviously it's a bit more pronounced in the kimchi one, but that's to be expected.
I also tried the kalbi mandoo which was probably my favorite of the three. Your expectation has to kind of change because when I think of Korean food and Kalbi, I always think whole pieces of meat. Just like the filling in the House Special, this was ground/chopped up meat that's in a loose filling. It's not pieces of kalbi. It's just that the meatiness is more pronounced in the kalbi mandoo vs House Original.
At just $2 per mandoo for Daheen Wang compared to the starting price of $2.50 at Bunch, I think either one is fine. Both places are serving up very similar food in my opinion. If the 50 cents matters to you (and it matters to me), I would go for Daheen Wang just purely on price. If Daheen Wang ever increased their prices to match Bunch, then I would make the decision based on which flavor I want that day. Really though baos or steamed mandoos suffer from this thing where it's like... they're just pillowy pockets filled with something, they can only get so good to a point. So don't listen to anonymous internet comments trashing one or the other. Both are pretty good, and the price point is excellent for Midtown if you want a snack.
Daheen Wang Mandoo
2 W 32nd St.
New York, NY 10001
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