Cheap Thrills: Cho Man Won in Koreatown

Korean-Chinese dumplings for the masses

The days of fighting chopstick-to-chopstick for the last dumpling are over.

At Cho Man Won, a bright, cheery noodle house in the heart of Koreatown, it's perfectly acceptable to order your own personal steamer of plump mandu. In fact, many customers opt for two.

Opened a year ago by the owners of O Dae San–the perennially packed Korean BBQ spot next door–Cho Man Won serves simple and homey Korean-Chinese cooking at eye-poppingly low prices, subsidized by a large lunch crowd that keeps the kitchen occupied churning out hand-rolled dumplings.

Glazed chicken at Cho Man Won

The pictorial menu, composed of eight items, is drop-dead simple. Choose between steamed kimchi, beef or vegetable mandu ($4 for 10), or pan-fried pork mandu ($5 for 10), each about the size of a silver dollar. Next, drizzle equal parts soy sauce, vinegar and chile flakes into a dish for a quick dipping sauce. So easy–and so good.

But the buck doesn't stop at dumplings: The heaping plate of glazed chicken ($8), battered and tossed in spicy-sweet sauce, resembles General Tso's in the best way possible. Bathtub-size bowls of jjajang myun ($5.50), thick rice noodles smothered in black bean sauce, and jjam bbong ($8), an ultraspicy seafood and vegetable stew, will easily feed two.

If dining out was a game, you'd win first prize.