Even in the feeding frenzy of giant turkey legs and perfect hummus at last weekend’s Smorgasburg LA v 2.0 debut, it was impossible not to notice THESE: rainbow-colored, fist-size Korean dumplings from L.A.’s brand new wrap group, Workaholic.
The massive bundles are wong mandu, or king mandu, which you can find around L.A. and are meant to be a sort of a meal on-the-go for Korean school kids and subway riders—like the crust-less bologna sandwich of Korean food. (Still don’t understand why nobody sits next to me on the Metro…) Workaholic gets a little fusion-y with theirs and dyes the wrappers with stuff like beets and spinach and paprika. Co-founder Roy Lee says he’s riffing on the colorful money-filled sacks that tykes typically carry around during the Korean New Year.
We looked (hard) and found nary a dime in ours—just fillings like shrimp, spicy pork and kimchi, chicken, bulgogoi, and a vegan vegetable mix. Three of these monsters come on a sort of weird bed of lettuce that we’re not sure makes sense, but the sweet-sour-spicy dipping sauce comes straight from chef/co-founder Martin Kim’s grandma—so, you know, bonus points. Actually, I take that back: there is no way you’re dipping this edible hockey puck into that tiny cup of sauce, so let’s just call it a condiment and leave it at that.
Kim and Lee have been running the health-centric meal delivery service Healthy Joe Food for a while now, and started making the dumplings as little snacks for their subscribers. Last weekend’s Smorgasburg was the first time they’ve sold the mandu en masse, and they were completely sold out by mid-day.
As for the name? It’s not a reference to the Comedy Central show—though we sort of see a little Blake Anderson in the bulgogi version. Lee says he wants to cater to the DTLA office grinders and hopes to offer the dumplings via delivery in the near future. Until then you’ll find them every Sunday at Smorgasburg LA