Friday, March 11, 2022

M Pocha

A few weeks ago, my sweetie and I took a much needed date night to M Pocha, one of the 4 M Restaurants in Durham. I've been to M Kokko (Korean Fried Chicken is their specialty) and I'm dying to try M Sushi and M Tempura. But for an impromptu fun night out, I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to get a table at M Pocha, and the price was right. "Pocha" refers to street food in Korea, and the menu reminded me a lot of the beloved Crafted: The Art of Street Food in Greensboro that sadly closed down a few years ago. Everything on the menu at M Pocha was tempting. The restaurant is a bit small, but they had partitions up and staggered seatings for Covid safety. Service was on point. We left with satisfied and full bellies and I'm eager to return.

The beer list is extensive, the wine list is limited and the cocktail list is creative. I opted for a drink with Japanese Whiskey, Charred Lemon and Miso Caramel, only to find that the charred lemon reminded me of Mezcal (a big NO for me). Thankfully, my hubby preferred this drink over his Negroni, so a trade was made.

I've never met a bun I didn't like. The Spicy Pork buns are DIY, and come with plump, pillowy steamed buns to fill with Romaine Lettuce or Sesame Leaves, succulent Korean BBQ Pork and Pickled Cucumbers. These were to die for. The bun collapses in your hand and becomes the perfect vessel for this crazy seasoned pork (not fatty at all!), crisp and tangy cukes and cooling, crunchy greens. Only 3 come in an order, but for $1, you can get a 4th. That is non-negotiable.

I adore Shrimp Toast and even went to the trouble of making it at home once (NEVER AGAIN - way too much work). But when I see it on a menu, I jump at the opportunity to order it. M Pocha's version is quite different from how I've seen it presented before, but it was an umami bomb - two pieces of Japanese Milk Bread sandwich a cube of seasoned shrimp, and then it's deep fried. Dunking it in the Wasabi Sweet Chili Sauce really makes it, but you have to be careful to let this baby cool off before biting into it! My hubby remarked that they reminded him of crispy pork belly bites. I totally agree.

Meat Mandu are Korean Dumplings filled with Ground Pork, Tofu and Chives in a chili oil. I prefer steamed dumplings over fried, and these were nice because they were steamed with just a little crispiness on one side of the wonton. The sauce was perhaps a bit too oily, but the flavor inside was money.

I grabbed my chopsticks and dug in before I could snap a pick of the Xiao Mian noodles. These were quite satisfying, combining Alkaline Noodles (a new one for me), Ground Pork, Chinese Broccoli, Pickled Mustard Greens, Chili Oil, Sesame Sauce, Peanuts and Cilantro. It reminded me of a Korean version of Pad Thai, with all those tasty, fresh flavors going on. I thought they were a bit heavy-handed with the sesame oil (I'm sensitive to that flavor) but the noodles were perfectly al dente and the pork was outstanding.

There were so many things on this menu that intrigued me, and I looked at other diners with envy, seeing the beautiful dishes they enjoyed. My only wish is that their late night menu (10pm-midnight on Fridays and Saturdays) was available all the time - Kimchi Quesadillas and Spicy Pork Nacho Fries anyone?

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