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Annandale Korean tonight with two toddlers

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khabu Nov 13, 2009 09:39 AM

Just moved to Falls Church from MD and am dying to try one of the many korean places in Annandale. We have two 3 year olds that like Korean food and we are looking for a place that has BBQ (doesn't have to be at the table) and is ok for kids that age (including not too crowded at an early hour like 6:15/6:30). We will have another family with us, so 7 people total. Good kim chee chi gae is a plus as that is my husband's favorite! Any recommendations?

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    Steve RE: khabu Nov 13, 2009 10:41 AM

    Han Gang has my favorite bbq order, their #1 galbi. Yechon is overall very good, hard to go wrong there as the constant stream of customers attests.

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      deangold RE: khabu Nov 13, 2009 11:14 AM

      Honey Pig is my choice. And the Jigae is only $3.99 white the BBQ. I would call and let them know you have kids with you and I would think they would save one of the sturdier tables with fixed burners.

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        SouthShore RE: khabu Nov 13, 2009 11:35 AM

        Definitely try what my Korean-American roommate affectionately calls "The Korean Diner" --- Yechon Restaurant --- and order the squid pancakes. We've tried the pancakes at several other places and Yechon's is by far the best! Yechon has many tables for large groups, so that's a plus too. And the kimchi is delish.

        We also like Il Me Buffet, but I would recommend going for lunch on a weekend. You'll spend a few hours there and will eat so much that you'll need the whole day to recover! (Plus, I believe the lunch buffet is cheaper by a few bucks.)

        Honey Pig is ok, but I really don't like it's vibe. It's very modern, metallic and Asian pop-influenced. Doesn't really feel like a place you can linger at. But they play Korean dramas and teen tv shows, so it might be fun for the kids. It's too much sensory overload for me.

        2 Replies
        1. re: SouthShore
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          Steve RE: SouthShore Nov 13, 2009 11:39 AM

          I agree, the pancakes at Yechon are especially good.

          1. re: SouthShore
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            Chownut RE: SouthShore Nov 13, 2009 07:05 PM

            I like the seafood pancake at Honey Pig, but nothing else that much.

            The BBQ items are advertised as low priced, but also low are the portions.

            I wouldn't call it a family restaurant...more like a dive.

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            Soup RE: khabu Nov 13, 2009 12:16 PM

            The issues seems to be the kids. When I take my kids to k-resturants, two things happen, senory overload with the noise and the crowd and the inability to get prompt service for the "special" items that the kids need (e.g., more water, forks, another glass because they spilled or a small bowl, etc).

            I generally stay away from over croweded and noisy place. This puts honey pig and yecheon. Yechon on fridays can get very crowded and service can suffer because of it. I get overloaded with honey pig with the noise and the crowd. Counldn't imagine what it would do to the kids.

            I'd recommend Han Song Oak (on columbia pike) or AnnanGol. Larger menus and not as crazy and the food is solid. I don't like doing buffets with kids (i.e., if I wanted to serve them I can do that at home).

            1 Reply
            1. re: Soup
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              sweth RE: Soup Nov 13, 2009 09:31 PM

              Honey Pig at around 6 shouldn't be very crowded or noisy; I just did an early dinner there a few weeks ago w/ 7 folks including 2 kids (one 2yo, one 1yo) and everything was good; while 3 year olds are a little different from 2, I think the OP should be fine at 6. I've never had the jigae there, though, but I've also never had anything there that wasn't at least pretty good, so that would be my rec.

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              khabu RE: khabu Nov 16, 2009 11:25 AM

              Thanks for the recs everyone! We ended up going to Il Mee and were happy with our choice...luckily we were there early so the kids didn't cause too much commotion...we were seated w/ other kid-tables and by the time the real crowds came, we were ready to leave. Food was yummy for the most part. Based on what you all said, though, now I have a bunch of places to try over the next few months!

              15 Replies
              1. re: khabu
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                anchor RE: khabu Nov 17, 2009 01:11 PM

                I have a toddler and we love Korean, and our go-to spot has not been recommended. Lighthouse Tofu is so so good. The munshroom and tofu soup is to die for, and the seafood pancake is delicious. The staff love children, so yours would probably be very welcome.

                1. re: anchor
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                  Chownut RE: anchor Nov 17, 2009 01:35 PM

                  How are the grilled meats? That's the first thing to judge a Korean restaurant by, not the mushroom soup.

                  1. re: Chownut
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                    Ericandblueboy RE: Chownut Nov 17, 2009 01:55 PM

                    How are the grilled meats? That's the first thing to judge a Korean restaurant by, not the mushroom soup.
                    ***
                    Not if their specialty is tofu soup.

                    1. re: Ericandblueboy
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                      Chownut RE: Ericandblueboy Nov 17, 2009 05:17 PM

                      The OP said they're looking for BBQ tho.

                    2. re: Chownut
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                      Steve RE: Chownut Nov 17, 2009 03:51 PM

                      That's like saying the first thing to judge an Italian restaurant by is the pizza.

                      Lighthouse tofu is almost exclusively devoted to soon doo boo, tofu stew. There are only two or three other items on the menu. Yes, they offer bulgogi, galbi, as well as noodles and seafood pancake. That's about it. Most people are there for the tofu stew.

                      The soon doo boo at Lighthouse is my favorite Korean meal in the area, but I didn't mention it since the OP was asking for bbq.

                      1. re: Steve
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                        deangold RE: Steve Nov 17, 2009 04:17 PM

                        THeir grilled meats are servicable, the sauteed octopus and squid better and the seafood pancake excellent, just for future information, IMO

                        1. re: Steve
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                          Chownut RE: Steve Nov 17, 2009 05:16 PM

                          Hmm, maybe it's the prominent grills and exhaust fans in each and every korean joint that gives the impression that BBQ is the signature offering of most korean joints. Could it be?

                          If people want to go to a korean joint and pig out on tofu stew....more power to them. Most others go for the grilled meats.

                          1. re: Chownut
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                            deangold RE: Chownut Nov 17, 2009 05:37 PM

                            Respectuflly, there are many a type of Korean restaurant. There are large numbers without hoods and grills. Some do not offer BBQ or grilled meats and some offer grilled meats and BBQ done int he kitchen only.

                            Gom Ba Woo, Gamalsot and Yet Gol all come to mind as palces that offer Korean food with no table grilling. Neither are particualarly known for hte BBQ, they are more well known for soupd and stews. While some do order BBQ at Gom Ba Woo, I can't recall ever seeing BBQ served at either of the other two.

                            There are also noodle joints like Myong Dong in Beltsville where there is no BBQ, just bowls of noodle soups.

                            There are also myriad Korean style Chinese places, Da Rae Won in Beltsville being myfavorite, that do not offer BBQ. They offer a uniquely Korean cuisine that is to Chinese as what red sauce Italian is to Italian, that is, not at all the same. Da Rae Won is uniquely Korean, it just looks like but does not taste like Chinese food and nary a bite of BBQ.

                            While here in the DC area, I only know of Vit Geol Lighthouse tofu as a specialist in Soon Du Bu, in LA's Korean community, there are dozens of such spots {Ahhh Toad Restaurant has some incredible Soon Du Bu, better to my mind than Vit Goel's which is saying quite a mouthful}.

                            Korean Fried Chicken houses don't have BBQ. Bon CHonis on my to do list.

                            Maybe you should try some other "Korean Joints". There is a wonderful world of variety out there.

                            1. re: deangold
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                              Steve RE: deangold Nov 17, 2009 07:50 PM

                              In addition to your excellent post, I can add there are Korean restuarants in Annandale that specialize in soon dae, a kind of blood sausage, and another place that features only porridge dishes. And there are others that just do noodles. BBQ is the most popular with Americans, but it is hardly the sine qua non of Korean cuisine.

                              1. re: Steve
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                                deangold RE: Steve Nov 18, 2009 03:25 AM

                                Steve

                                I love Gamalsots Soon Dae, where else has my favorite blood sausage?

                                I have yet to try the porridge shops, my to do list only gets longer

                                1. re: deangold
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                                  Steve RE: deangold Nov 18, 2009 05:05 AM

                                  Seoul Soondae specializes in you-know-what and it is very good at To Sok Jip. Though I haven't been to either in a long time.

                                  Seoul Soondae
                                  4231-L Markham Street
                                  Annandale, VA 22003

                                  To Sok Jip
                                  7211 Columbia Pike
                                  Annandale, VA 22003

                                  1. re: Steve
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                                    Ericandblueboy RE: Steve Nov 18, 2009 05:34 AM

                                    For some reason I think the porridge place may be closed....I think I read that somewhere.

                                    1. re: Steve
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                                      Soup RE: Steve Nov 18, 2009 05:46 AM

                                      Seoul Soondae easily has the best soondae around the wash DC area. A really good place but Not sure I take a couple of 3 year olds.

                                    2. re: deangold
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                                      comestibles RE: deangold Nov 18, 2009 05:32 AM

                                      There is another Seoul Soondae in Wheaton, right next to Korean Korner; but I haven't been.

                                      1. re: comestibles
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                                        deangold RE: comestibles Nov 18, 2009 05:35 AM

                                        I have been and the big problem there is that they keep on trying to get me, a non Asian, to steer away from anything other than Kalbi or Bulgoggi and I really hate that! But you're right, the soon dae is superb. Forgot they had an Annandale location.

                                        That to do list of mine already has To Sok Jip on it. Too bad they are not open late!

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                        PollyG RE: khabu Nov 21, 2009 08:15 PM

                        I recommend against Honey Pig for your 3 year-olds for safety reasons. The grills are very large in comparison to the tables and it would be too easy for little hands to come in contact with a very hot surface. A lot of the plastic serving bowls at Honey Pig have scorch marks from the too-small tables. It's a shame, because the food really is good.

                        If you are going for lunch, Ara always seems very quiet at lunch time--a huge contrast from its crowded night-club atmosphere in the evenings. Ara has an extensive menu of lunch specials, including a lot of soups. I'm pretty sure my husband had a kim chi chigae on our last visit. The wait staff at Ara redid a soup that was not supposed to be spicy but turned out to be too spicy for my daughter, so they are absolutely kid-friendly.

                        Our daughter is approaching 10 now, but she's dined all over Annandale. The staff at Hee Been were always great with her as an infant, but that was before they expanded and turned into a mostly-buffet offering.

                        In general, staff at Korean restaurants have been warm and welcoming to our daughter, but I understand Soup's frustration with wait staff being slow to spot a kid-related problem. It isn't something we've seen as a particular issue at Korean restaurants.

                        Like Steve, I would also recommend Han Gang. Your kids will love the fountain outside the restaurant, and the food is very good.

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