best korean bbq in DC area
im new in town and ive been looking for the best korean bbq. im talking about not just the food but the price and the atmosphere-- im from chicago and the best place they had there was called sansoogabsan, this 24 hr place with the set meal and tons of panchan, complete with a huge seafood pancake, a jongol (stew) and beef tendons all for around 18-22$ per person. ive been to a couple in the area and been ultimately disappointed-- i cant seem to find my great hole-in-the-wall. the best tasting i thought might have been sorak garden, but thats not necc the kind of atmosphere im looking for. (too refined maybe.) any suggestions?
Vit Goel is fantastic. Very limited menu. It is a place that specializes in tofu stew and only has three items on the menu - tofu stew, bbq, and noodles. But the bbq is terrific (both ribs and bulgogi). The tofu stew (soon doo boo) is completely out of this world delicious. Hole in the wall and intensely Korean experience: although the place was packed, I was the only non-Korean. No large panchan spread, only a few items, but all top quality. I went to the Annandale location, but there is also a location in Rockville.
Woo Lae Ok in Pentagon City(there is also one in Tysons Corner, haven't been there though)might be the place that you are looking for.
I haven't tried the bbq, but Yechon in Annandale has good food in general.
For the tofu stew, try Vitgoel in Annandale.
Nakwon Restaurant had good food as well, not a big selection, and don't know about the bbq.
Usually Anndanle in Virginia is the place to go, where the Korean community in this area is.
Woo lae Oak isn't a hole-in-the-wall sort of place, but their bbq is wonderful, both the beef and chicken in particular. The quality of the meat is much better (IMO) than what I had at Yechon or any other Korean restaurant I've been to. However, I must say the panchan at Yechon was a highlight. I try other Korean restaurants, but I think Woo Lae Oak in Arlington is #1.
If you are looking for a hole in the wall spot, you need to head on over to Annandale. If you get on Little River Turnpike and head outabout a mile and a half, there will be a place on your left called 'Sambo.' Restaurant by day (and night) and there is a night club/bar in the basement for the Korean community. I have a close friend who is Korean and she likes it there.
I have gotten some good dishes there.
This is a good directory of pretty much all the places in the area.
From my own experience, Yechon had great panchan, awesome bulgogi, galbi was nothing to complain about, but not the best I've had. But the fact that it's a 24hr place happily reminds of the late-night (sometimes drunken) korean cravings I and my friends would satiate en masse in K-town while having lived and, yes, partied, in and around Los Angeles for 20 years of my life (but have recently moved East to DC). Way too many restaurants close too early around here. Yes, we did the greasy spoon now and then, but Korean food or Pho is what the LA kids do to soak up the liquor!
Woomi in Wheaton, MD is also another rec I'd give. Their galbi is, seriously, the best I've had in a while, and can go head to head with the best of them in LA (or on NYC's 32nd St. too). Marinade is just the right mix of sweet and savory, without overpowering the taste of the beef, which is tender and is sliced thick enough so the juiciness doesn't get cooked out minutes after you put it on the grill. Panchan is excellent, as is the haemul paejun. Soondubu is yummy too, but their galbi is the standout.
btw, you have the grill at the dinner table at both of these places. They both use gas grills instead of charcoal, which I don't mind.
For best place, best taste, best price, I recommend:
4121 Hummer Rd
Annandale, VA 22003
Goong Jeon Restaurant
202 Crain Hwy N
Glen Burnie, MD 21061
Woo Lae Ok was good but pricy and limited menu.
LOTS of changes in the past 6 years. My favorite Korean holes-in-the-wall are:
Myoung Dong: fried chicken
Da Rae Won: hand-pulled noodle dishes
Seoulia: stews (budae jigae)
Kimchi House: anything with kimchi
Hunan Deli: dwenjang jigae, anything with noodles
Gamasot: bulgogi, Seolleongtang