Mama’s House Korean Restaurant, located on the far east side of Indy on Pendleton Pike, is a bit of a hike for me from downtown. When I’m in the mood for Korean food, though, I always make the drive because I just can’t settle for anywhere else. Housed in a strip mall by a liquor store and near a “gentlemen’s” club, the restaurant isn’t particularly fancy, but, in my experience, it serves the best Korean food in town.
If you haven’t eaten at a Korean barbecue before, come to Mama’s House prepared for an experience. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can sit at a special table with an exhaust hood and a built-in grill so you can cook your own meat over a bowl of hot coals. I’m usually too lazy for this, though, opting to sit at a regular table and letting the experts in the kitchen cook my food for me. Next, be prepared for the dozen or so bowls of various banchan (side dishes) that arrive with dinner, all of which are meant to be shared. You’ll no doubt be served traditional cabbage kimchi as well as cooked white rice, but don’t be shy trying some of the other, surprisingly tasty items such as pickled garlic gloves, fish cakes, and breaded zucchini slices.
As for entrees, I’ve not had a bad experience yet. Some of my favorite dishes are pork sauté (sliced pork braised with onions, peppers, scallions, and carrots in a spicy red chili sauce), chop chae (glass noodles sautéed with vegetables and beef), and some of that old, Korean standby, boolgogee (sliced beef marinated in a special sauce). The boolgogee here is exceptionally good, super-tender and flavorful. Another one of my favorite Mama’s House specialties is dolsoet bebeem bop, which is a rice dish topped with sautéed and seasoned vegetables, chili pepper paste, and a raw egg, all served in a hot stone bowl. This meal requires a little work because you have to stir up all the ingredients with your chopsticks so that the egg cooks against the sides of the piping hot bowl. Don’t worry about doing it wrong, though; the servers are quite good about giving instructions and have even taken control of my inadequate dolsoet bebeem bop stirring on a couple of occasions.