9545 Folsom Blvd., Suite #2, Sacramento, CA 95827. (916) 363-8505.
About a week ago, my friend Rose and I found ourselves headed to a local Korean restaurant that we've dined at before for lunch. En route, for some unknown reason we decided to make a U-turn and pull into a squat strip mall and check out a (new to us) restaurant called Mo Du Rang (loosely translated to mean, "With Everyone"). I was a bit apprehensive at first about eating there as there was a big sign proclaiming, "Teriyaki and Korean Cuisine." (I tend to be a bit skeptical of places that arbitrarily pair different Asian cuisines together, my past experiences haven't been too great). Additionally, the area was a bit sketchy but the restaurant proved me wrong. It turned out to be a delightful little neighborhood joint. It was clean and family friendly. The decor was simple and the dining room was separated into sections by small decorative screens to give some privacy and there was no K-pop blaring from the TV or sound system (thank god). Our waitress double-dutied as the hostess and sat us at a nice spacious table for 4, even though there was only two of us. As we settled into our table, we were handed large laminated menus. Large, very extensive and intriguing menus. Mo Du Rang has the traditional Korean dishes of galbi (Korean BBQ ribs), bulgogi (marinated BBQ beef), doenjang jjigae (soybean paste stew) and Jaengban Guku (cold noodles with veggies in a spicy sauce) but it also has some more daring dishes like Gopchang jeongol (a fiery guts and tripe casserole), golbaengi muchim (a hot and spicy sea snail salad with noodles) and hong au hwe (raw skate and veggies mixed with hot sauce). The menu was a pretty interesting read.
Choosing what to eat was hard. I love Korean food, I would eat it more often if I could drag Mr.S. to eat it more. Korean food--- spicy, stinky, sweet---I've been working my way through it for decades now. I've eaten masochistic Korean food (so scorching hot, I felt it burn it's way through my digestive system), amnesic Korean food (where I drank so much soju, that I couldn't recall anything I ate at the restaurant), mediocre Korean food (aka what I like to call McKorean food) and of course good ol' amazing Korean food. After some lengthy pondering, I finally decided to play it safe and ordered my favorite Korean comfort food dish- dolsot bibimbap. I know it's not very exciting, but I figured it'd be a good barometer (and I could seriously eat this dish every week, year round). It's simple, tasty and for the most part pretty healthy. I love the mélange of seasoned veggies (in this case carrots, mushrooms, sautéed greens, mung bean sprouts and gosari), bulgogi and an over-easy egg atop a mound of steamed rice-- all nestled in a hot stone bowl with a little sesame oil mixed in. Throw in a hefty squirt of the gochujang (spicy pepper) sauce and I'm good to go. My favorite part though of dolsot bibimbap is the faan jiew (the bits of crispy rice nestled at the bottom of the bowl). It's like rice cracklin's! Mo Du Rang's version of dolsot bibimbap was delicious, my only beef was with the bulgogi. It was tender, just not very flavorful. Next time, I think I might skip adding the meat and just opt for some tofu or go sans supplemental protein.
My friend Rose ordered a dish I wasn't familiar with- mool naeng myun. In all honesty when it came to the table, I thought it kind of looked like a bowl of dirty dishwater. Rose was kind enough to give me a taste and it tasted great! Mool naeng myun turned out to be long buckwheat noodles mixed with sliced beef and a smattering of vegetables in a slightly tangy, chilled broth. The broth itself is very light and the sharpness of the vinegar is tempered with a whisper of sweetness and spiciness. It's served in a chilled stainless bowl and is quite refreshing. A great summertime dish!
Mo Du Rang also turned out to have some great banchan (small, free side dishes). Everything from your customary kimchi and pickled spicy radishes to stir-fried fish cakes. I think when we went at lunchtime we had 8 or 9 small plates but I heard they give out a bigger array at dinnertime.
Now visiting Mo Du Rang isn't going to be some transcendental dining experience but they do provide a good spread and offer up some wonderful, authentic Korean dishes for the gastronomic adventurer and for the traditionalist. Their food is definitely better than some of the other popular Korean eateries I've visited on Folsom Boulevard. Also, the service we had when we popped in there was fantastic. Our waitress was absolutely terrific- something I usually don't say when I dine at Korean restaurants where getting ignored or getting a cranky server is the norm. It usually goes with the territory. This waitress though was super friendly, happy to answer any questions we had about the dishes on the menu and attentive to our dining needs. It made for a pleasant dining experience to not be getting the stink-eye from across the room.
Note: The restaurant is in a rougher part of the Rancho Cordova-Rosemont corridor (Folsom Blvd. between Butterfield and Bradshaw), so just keep that in mind if you're going after dark. When we were leaving the restaurant we passed a woman of the meth-head persuasion who was screaming into her phone, "I'm going to beat that baby out of you!" Um...yeah...we got in the car pretty quickly.