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Review Recap: Madangsui

Can I just admit that I was bored by today’s one-star review of Madangsui? Will you still respect me in the morning?

Commenters on the New York Times website were perplexed that “Manhattan’s best Korean barbecue restaurant” merits only a star, but it seemed rather clear to us:

Madangsui is not much to look at, really, just a long fluorescent-illuminated room with chocolate accents, almost barnlike, with exhaust hoods over the tables and a carpet down the center, leading to the tea station, the bathrooms and the kitchen. The clientele runs to groups of celebratory young Koreans texting as they eat, office parties and passers-by from local hotels; it is hardly a clear picture of fine dining in New York. But jiminy crickets, is the dining fine.

But first, a warning: responsibility for the pace of a meal at Madangsui belongs to the diner alone. Service at the restaurant is brisk, almost brutally efficient… .

But make sure not to ask for your barbecue, not yet. Diners who order soups and appetizers at the same time as main dishes at Madangsui will receive, far more often than not, the main dishes in advance of the appetizers. This throws a wrench into the works. Be firm on this point and be happy.

In a system that awards one conflated rating for food, service, and décor, these things have to take their toll. Besides that, it is no insult to get one star, which means “good”. True, it was so debased during the Bruni era that readers have been conditioned to expect that one star is an insult. Sam Sifton is re-training them.

We and Eater both predicted the one-star outcome. We both win $2 on our hypothetical one-dollar bets:

Eater   NYJ
Bankroll $4.00   $6.00
Gain/Loss +$2.00   +$2.00
Total $6.00   $8.00
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Won–Lost 4–2

Life-to-date, New York Journal is 74–29 (72%).

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