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Mixing it up at Pal Do

Variety of Asian feasts in Lakewood grocery store

Mandoo makes three things only and all are dumplings. Photo credit: Jake de Paul

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ANNOUNCER: If you haven't discovered Pal Do in Lakewood, then you are missing out on Asian ingredients you can't find anywhere else in the South Sound area. This grocery store is packed with anything you can desire when it comes to re-creating dishes from China, Japan, Korea and others.  But inside are also restaurants and a bakery brimming with foods from around the entire Asian area.

JASON: Inside you can find food booths selling sushi, teriyaki, Korean, Chinese, baked goods and even mandoo - steamed dumplings.

JAKE: Located at the far end from the grocery store entrance, The House of Mandoo is unique from the other eateries - because of its simplicity.  From a customer's perspective, there is a water cooler, a friendly employee there to take your order, and a large window to watch them make whichever of the three dumplings offered you choose.  And that is it.

JASON: The line never ended while I ate in the "food court" of sorts at Mandoo.  People kept coming and coming to get these large delights.

JAKE:  The dumplings known as Korean mandoo are a full handful in size and offered as a steamed option only.  With just three choices of mandoo at around $2 apiece, I tried all three.  The red bean is the simplest selection as it is a simple sweet bean paste wrapped in a doughy wrapper.  The other offerings are both pork versions.   The plain pork isn't really plain at all; it is loosely filled with seasoned ground pork, scallions, chives and small glass noodles.  The other pork option is exactly the same but with the addition of spicy Korean Kim Chi.  Both are flavorful and unique; it's simply a matter of whether you are in the mood for spicy or plain.

JASON: I focused on the Peking Chinese restaurant next door, and discovered something unique in the South Sound - traditional Chinese food that tastes fresher than most.  The fried rice was packed with egg, and I was hard-pressed to find any leftover grease on my plate.  The rice was fluffy and the ingredients firm with good chi. On the flip side, I also did the sweet and sour pork, which typically is a grease fest packed with substandard pork, but here the pieces, while fatty, had generous hunks of real pork.  The sauce was more neon than I like, but everything else was tasty.

JAKE:  The big wins here are the $2 price tag and the ease at which these handheld delights can be eaten.  But, I hope soon House of Mandoo is planning to add some Korean soups and banchan to their menu.

JASON: Agreed, the prices were reasonable.

Asian restaurants inside Pal-Do World, 9701 South Tacoma Way, Lakewood, 253.267.0609

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