Manna Korean BBQ (Mira Mesa)

Manna BBQ opened a Mira Mesa location around Thanksgiving of last year. The biggest benefits to this location vs original in Convoy? A bigger parking lot and no crazy lines, at least for now! The mother-in-law wanted to give it a try so we visited on Sunday. Yay to my second KBBQ AYCE in San Diego, following Taegukgi just last year. Yeah I know, I'm late to the KBBQ AYCE train.

The restaurant opens daily at noon. We arrived around 12:15pm and there were already a few other tables occupied. Seating was quick.

An assortment of banchan was placed on the table. Dennis really liked the bean sprouts because of the sesame oil flavor on them. I tried the noodle item (similar to jap-chae), the potato salad stuff in the back, and one or two of those crunchy cucumbers. One strange thing is that they didn't have the normal kim-chi in our batch that day! It didn't really matter because we concentrated on meats anyway.

A large salad was served to every table, even for our party of 3! I'd say it was tossed with a light kim-chi inspired dressing, hence the occasional specks of red. This was sampled but for the most part ignored to make room for the meat! 

Each person was provided a dual dipping sauce container, a zesty ponzu style sauce on one side and straight-up salt on the other side.

Manna's menu gives you two options, A1 (27.99) and A2 (21.99). The major difference is that A1 includes a few more meats such as seafood. We were okay with just A2 for this trip. Let's order!

The Brisket was cut super thin! We put this on the grill first and it STUCK LIKE CRAZY. I'd recommend cooking a fattier meat first, then adding afterwards. You still have to watch it like a hawk to avoid overcooking it! When done right, it was very good.

Be careful with the Beef Tongue too, which also cooks fast. I think a squeeze of lemon was missing though. They have them but our person forgot to bring it out as requested. At least the dipping sauce is citrus-zesty.

Hands down, our favorite meat was the Beef Galbi. Look at the three large slabs of meat that came in our order! After cooking and cutting up with scissors, we happily stuffed our mouths with the succulent and tender pieces.

Dennis vetoed it but I wanted to at least try a smaller portion of the Beef Bulgogi . "Small" still came out to at least half a pound! The marinade was the typical flavor but I felt the meat was on the "non-premuim bulgogi" side because it was stringy and chewy. Hubby is right... I'll stick to the more expensive Galbi cut next time!

We also wanted to try some chicken, the non-spicy version. Ours turned out to be quite juicy and imparted with a good flavor. Mom-in-law sure does know how to cook her meats! Yay!

The regular Pork Belly was another we liked, especially when cooked with a tiny bit of char on the meat portions!

The grills come pre-oiled so you can begin the grilling fun as soon as it heats up. We're cooking most of the above meat here. Also, the pork belly pieces had little tendon-y bone pieces (the white circles) so make sure to eat around them when done cooking!

For our next round, we decided to try out two other meats, which we simply referred to as #2 and #3 (rib meat and boneless short rib). I didnt really care for these as they were tougher cuts of meat compared to glorious galbi. #2 definitely needed some salt after cooking. It was also one of the unmarinaded meats. #3 was a little better for me but still chewy. Maybe I'm secretly against chewing...

More grilling pics. We had the grill changed right before cooking these. It's hard to distinguish #2 and #3 on the grill, other than #3 was in smaller pieces!

The last meat we tried was the Pork Galbi. There are no half portions because it's basically a huge slab of rolled up meat, almost the length of the grill, wrapped around a separate piece with the bone. I liked the softness of the pork after cooking but Dennis remarked that it tasted like eating chicken! Maybe because of the similar marinades?

Both A1 and A2 contain a couple choices of side dishes as part of the package. We only ordered the Steamed Egg, which came in a bowl fit for tofu soup!

We were trying to eat everything so that we wouldn't get charged extra and I think we did well enough. Then I took a nap that day. Maybe it's from a major food coma or something to do with the time change but I just couldn't keep my eyes open! Hope everyone was able to spring forward a little better than me! You can visit Manna BBQ in four locations throughout all of San Diego County, the newest Mira Mesa, the Convoy location everyone is familiar with, as well as deep south Chula Vista and north county San Marcos!

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Manna BBQ (Mira Mesa)
8150 Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego CA 92126
(858) 578-0300

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Comments

Mary's picture
Submitted by Mary (not verified) on Tue, 03/10/2015 - 9:48am

Oh cool, I'm glad someone has finally blogged about this location! I haven't been to any of Manna's locations but I always hear that it is on the top of people's lists for KBBQ. I wish it were a tad cheaper or they had like a super small lunch size with just the most popular items on it or something. Oh well, gotta make the money! The meats look good and I'm happy to hear it's not very overcrowded.

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Tue, 03/10/2015 - 4:41pm

I've been waiting for someone in our circle to blog about it too but still surprised I'm FIRST. Maybe it's just not as exciting as customized pizzas, decadent breakfasts, and all these new restaurants popping up.

Pricewise, I expected weekdays and weekends to differ but they seriously have only two prices daily, A1 (27.99) and A2 (21.99). I'm sticking with dinner so I can get lunch specials elsewhere and fall into giant food comas AFTER work.

Faye's picture
Submitted by Faye (not verified) on Tue, 03/10/2015 - 10:49am

Oh I was so hoping you'd finally visit this place! I've been meaning to go but Jeong Won just always wins out with the group. That's commendable how much proteins you guys ate that sitting. And how do they run outta kimchi?! I've always liked their salad and that steamed egg banchan. Those are two items that I think Manna does best out of all these AYCE KBBQ. The option you guys chose didn't include the ribeye steak right? I can't remember which option we choose (at the Convoy location) but I think it came with the steak (which wasn't all that memorable).

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Tue, 03/10/2015 - 4:49pm

I really want to go to Jeong Won because you can pick out your own proteins. Doesn't it suck when you just want to try ONE piece but get stuck with a half or whole plate? The salad tasted fine but steamed egg is not that exciting to me. It's not salted much so I guess you add whatever you want to it. It seemed like a lot of egg! There's no ribeye steak on the cheaper A2 menu. If we ever try the premium A1, we can skip to all the ones we haven't tried yet.

J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats's picture
Submitted by J.S. @ Sun Dieg... (not verified) on Tue, 03/10/2015 - 2:59pm

I still haven't been to AYCE Korean BBQ. I want to but normal Korean BBQ already leaves me so stuffed I'm afraid of how much I'd eat if it was AYCE O___O

I like the thicker cuts of meat that are less fatty, but preferably marinated. I know I'm one of those weirdos that doesn't like pork belly, but I just can't get over how slimy the texture is. I have ordered pork belly before and just dissected the fat out because the meat part is actually quite good (and the crispy top!). This was however incredibly time consuming and should probably just not order it again next time.

Their banchan looks good, I've never had the noodles as part of banchan before but for me good sides and sauces are sooo important in KBBQ! Oh and I quite like that they have salt as a 'sauce'.

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Thu, 03/12/2015 - 3:53pm

Well I've been reading about KBBQ all over, especially Jinxi's blog so thought everyone was going but me! It's okay, maybe you should just go to the recommended Jeong Won and pick exactly what and how much to eat! I think I'm gonna buy some galbi ($14/lb?) from the markets and find out how much I can really eat haha! The fancier restaurants do a good job with pork belly but the preparation here is just so simplistic. Couldn't I do the same at home if I actually purchased?

I usually like the fish cake or soft potato banchan the best, of which neither were here. 'Salt' sauce sounds perfect for you though! :)

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