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Feb 13, 2010 02:13 PM

Korean food- DC/NOVA

My boyfriend and I will be in DC next Saturday night for a concert and are looking for an amazing Korean restaurant to go to for dinner. Somewhere in DC or not too far outside (somewhere we can take the Metro to perhaps) Suggestions?

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  1. Get a zip car membership before hand and drive out to Annandale in NOVA.

    19 Replies
    1. re: WestIndianArchie

      we are coming in from southern VA by car so transportation is not a problem- where in Annadale? Looking for somewhere with amazing tabletop bbq, banchan, and excellent octopus.

      1. re: claraclairvoyant

        I like Honey Pig, but there are a whole bunch.
        Tyler Cowen is an economist @ a local university, but also a huge foodie.


        Lots of reviews. Annandale is his favorite food neighborhood.

        1. re: WestIndianArchie

          Honey Pig has good octopus, but the banchan is very limited. I can't think of a place that has good banchan AND very good octopus, though. Maybe Yechon? Or Hee Been; it's AYCE, so there are the usual caveats about a place like that vs. a place where you order individually, but they've got a fair variety of banchan, their squid isn't bad, and they often have pretty good octopus on the hot bar (i.e. previously prepared, not grilled at the table).

          1. re: sweth

            Hee Been doesn't have to be AYCE. You can order from the menu. Their squid BBQ (off the menu) is often outstanding. Their nakji bokum (stir-fried octopus and vegetables) will be cooked in the kitchen. Hee Been will give you a reasonable selection of banchan, and the selection at the AYCE bar is pretty good.

            But Han Gang's banchan are outstanding. I've eaten there twice, once with a group of chowhounds, and once with a client of mine who is Korean. Each time the banchan were among the best I've had. No table top grill there, and the decor is fairly upscale.

            1. re: PollyG

              I was thinking Han Gang, too--both for the food and the decor.

              1. re: PollyG

                I used to love Hee Been back before they went AYCE; I tend not to like AYCE, so I only recently started trying it again. It's good to know that you can still order off the menu.

                Han Gang is definitely good, but the OP had requested tabletop grilling. If that's not a hard requirement, though, then Han Gang would be worth a visit.

                1. re: sweth

                  I've always wondered about the tabletop grilling. So far my two favorite places for Korean bbq, Han Gang and Soo Wan Galbi in Centreville, don't offer it. It seems to me it is a gimmick, and one in which the final product is more likely to come out wrong.

                  1. re: Steve

                    I have had tabletop grilling at Han Gang. Maybe not all tables are equipped, but it is available.

                    1. re: weezycom

                      I thought I saw the tables, too. It looks like it in gallery picture #5.


                      1. re: chowser

                        I have had tabletop grilling at Han Gang, with your requirements it is exactly what you want.

                    2. re: Steve

                      Tabletop is as much about the experience as the end result, but I wouldn't call it a gimmick; there's definitely something added to the meal when you have a large group around a tabletop grill, with each person ogling their preferred cut of meat and waiting for it to hit just their preferred level of doneness so that they can snag it before a tablemate does. With tabletop, you can also add things from the banchan (e.g. kimchi, garlic) to the grill to your taste. And for some people I know, picking away at the crispy bits left in the grill at the end is half of the joy of the meal; chul pan dishes like they have at Honey Pig take that to the next level, making the stuff left on the grill the base for a great fried rice.

                      1. re: sweth

                        Yeah, I can definitely dig the idea of the crispy bits left over. I think mostly I've adored it when they grill the kimchee. That's pretty awesome stuff.

                        1. re: Steve

                          FWIW, this discussion prompted me to stop by Han Gang today, and apparently I was tunnel-vision focused on the food the two times I've been there previously: it turns out that every table there except for the three in the middle (one of which was the one I was at my two previous times there) has tabletop grilling.

                          (That visit also reminded me, however, that their chopsticks are metal ones that, while very pretty, are hugely unergonomic--the size, shape, and weighting of them all seem designed to leave you with a wizened claw rather a functioning hand by the end of a meal.)

                          1. re: sweth

                            Metal chopsticks are popular in Korea.

                            I have never used them, and I have heard that they are difficult if you are not used to them. I guess it's not a problem for the Koreans who frequent Han Gang.

                            1. re: Lori D

                              They're not difficult to use; they're just a pain, literally. I admittedly have hand issues already, which is why I pay attention to things like this, but I've never used a pair of chopsticks (metal or other) before that seemed as intentionally designed to cause hand pain.

                              1. re: sweth

                                Maybe if you use them one at a time and spear all your food, they'll bring you a more substantial set.

                                I agree, they are difficult to manipulate.

                                1. re: sweth

                                  Now we know what to get you for Xmas. Or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Ramadan or Festivus.

                        2. re: Steve

                          Steve, unless I have my galbi places mixed up, Soo Wan Galbi in Centreville has tabletop grilling. That's the place next to the Trader Joes, right? They grill their exquisitely marbled short rib over a mesh surface at the table. You may need to order 2 grilled meats to get tabletop service, I'm not remembering for sure.

                          1. re: PollyG

                            Maybe it's another one of those places where some of the tables don't have the grills.....

              1. re: ineemeeny

                Yikes. Those threads are actually not as comprehensive as others I've seen. A search of the boards using "Korean" and "Annandale" should give you plenty of great ideas. Good luck!

              2. Han Gang, in Annandale, get the #1 bbq. Probably the single best bbq dish in the area, but I don't think they have any tabletop. Excellent banchan. See link below for the report.


                1. Stay away from Yee Hwa. I wanted so badly to like this place, but it was a terrible experience. It's too bad because even if it has been passable, being one of the only places in the district would have gotten them a ton of my business.

                  1. If you really can't get out to Annadale I have heard Mandu in Dupont is pretty good, though not as good as the suburb places.