By Staff Writer Kylie Cooper.
With so many incredible restaurants at every corner, it can be difficult to choose where to eat in Providence. Many know of its donut shops and Italian restaurants, but the city also offers great Korean food. Mokban, conveniently located in the heart of downtown Providence, offers plentiful and delicious Korean fare that is well worth the trip.
Located at 217 Westminster Street, Mokban provides a cozy, yet classy, environment that’s complete with many plants and wood furnishing. I came across Mokban unintentionally, wandering down Westminster Street in search of Asian food for lunch. The pleasing interior design definitely played a hand in my choosing to go in. It should also be noted that I visited on a snow day; while many of the downtown Providence shops and restaurants were closed, Mokban kept its doors open.
Upon entering, the many windows lining the street-side walls provided welcoming natural light and highlighted the vibrant green plants beautifully. Given the weather, there was only one other group of customers dining, and so the waiters were very prompt and accessible. Additionally, because of a no-tip policy, the waiters were able to work as a team and came over as soon as diners were ready to order or clean up.
My meal began with the sweet chili dumplings starter, which were deep fried to perfection. The satisfying crunch of the wrapper before the soft filling mixture of meat and vegetables made for a balanced texture. The sweet chili sauce drizzled on top hit the sweet, sour, and spicy notes well, although it would have been better if more was given—either drizzled on or in a side cup. As six dumplings came on the plate, the appetizer alone could easily serve as a filling meal for me.
For the main dish, each lunch Korean Classic meal is served in a large wooden tray that takes up the width of a table for two. The meals come with complimentary side dishes, a salad, tempura, and either a bowl of rice or soup. Depending on the main dish ordered, the sides may vary.
I ordered the pork katsu, which is a deep fried cutlet of breaded pork. The Korean name for it is donkkaseu, so I’m not quite sure why they opted for the Japanese “katsu” version for the name when they’re a Korean bistro.
Naming aside, the huge pork cutlet was cut into strips and sat in a pool of sweet & sour sauce made of potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and broccoli. The breading absorbed the sauce just enough to make the pork strips easy to bite; the end strips of the cutlet hadn’t absorbed the sauce, and were a bit difficult to tear and eat with only chopsticks. However, the sauce was savory and had a slightly creamy texture. It paired well with the pork.
For my sides, I received a sizeable bowl of purple rice, zucchini soup, a salad, sweet potato tempura, kimchi, eomuk bokkeum (stir-fried fish cakes), and a cup of cabbage salad that is customarily served with pork katsu. All of the sides, save for the rice and soup, came in small portions and definitely added up when paired with the huge pork cutlet.
The sides were average, but the zucchini soup did stand out; the zucchini slices practically melted in my mouth and the broth was light. I typically don’t like soup, but Mokban did an excellent job with it.
At a price of $11.95, I was very pleased with the pork katsu meal. The quantity and array of food alone was well worth it; my leftover pork and rice that I took home served for two more meals, and I was able to try foods I’d never heard of before. My mom felt similarly about her spicy crispy chicken meal and sides.
While my visit had meat incorporated into each dish, Mokban is vegan-friendly, with a part of the menu dedicated to their vegan options.
I had an overall wonderful experience at Mokban and can’t wait to return and explore the rest of the menu.