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Quick NoVa Question - Eyo, A&J, and (Help me insert Korean BBQ)

  • MSPD May 10, 2013 10:44 AM
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Greetings from Minnesota. Hope this isn't too broad -- I've done as much reading as I can (thanks, by the way) and I'm looking to fill in a gap.

I'll be back in my old 'hood (Annandale/Fairfax) for a few days. It seems like Eyo for Ethiopian and A&J for Chinese are "my kind of places"/on my list. I'd like to fill in a Korean BBQ place since we don't have a single source of Korean BBQ up here (although we have a couple average Korean restaurants).

I'd like something along the lines of the other places -- approachable, casual, interesting.

I'll be up in DC at some point (I'm driving out so I'll have a car), so if there's a place somewhere else that's a "must do" (meaning Korean BBQ, but I suppose if there's an especially noteworthy ethnic dive I'd like that), I'll drive. I lived in Annandale for 10 years and know my way around DC.

For reference, the last few times I was out, I was in DC/Arlington for work. I hit Makoto, Good Stuff Eatery (and the pizza place next to it), a few things at a Nationals game, and this one from two years ago:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/771624

Thanks in advance! - Dave

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  1. Eyo and A&J definitely.

    My sine qua non at A&J is the Niu Rou Xian Bing (pan fried beef bun). There is a dangerous, boiling hot soup inside and also a beef patty. You can't bite into this, you just have to nibble on one end and slurp the soup with the constantly shifting patty. Also the Suan La Mian (noodles in hot and sour sauce. You need to ask for the big homemade noodles.

    I also love the scrambled tofu with 1,000 year egg.

    For Korean BBQ I prefer Oegadgib, it's a nice, quiet place that is packed with Koreans. Very attentive service. Hard to find, not visible from the road, it's located behind a Paisano's pizza in Annandale. The banchan here is insanely copious. The do not marinate the bbq here, you just use the sauce at the table.

    We met, BTW, in august of 2004 at Galileo's backyard grill. If you'd like to join another group outing, just send me a PM.

    I hope by now that Minneapolis has kabobs!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      Thanks Steve, and good to talk with you again! Wow...the Galileo thing seems like a million years ago...I almost can't believe I've been on Chowhound that long, but I guess so. Thanks for the offer of group outing. I'm on a strange schedule while I'm there, but I'll see if things work out.

      As for the food, thanks for the advice on the dishes. I understand the buns at A&J are sort of like the famed Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings) insofar as having to be careful about eating them. Probably from reading posts you've put up..who knows. Sounds like something right up my alley.

      I had also seen a few mentions of Oegadgib. My brother used to live within walking distance (I lived just off Braddock a few miles west of the Beltway). I think that might be a good spot as I'll be staying out that way.

      Oh...and kabobs are still hit or miss up here.

      1. re: MSPD

        Xiao long bao are tiny,delicate, and steamed (A & J has them, but they are lesser) The niu rou xian bing are large, fried, and with a heavy pastry bun.

        1. re: Steve

          I realized I was unclear after I posted. I meant similar in having to be careful about not just launching into them...yes, different beasts I know.

          Oh...and "large, fried and heavy pastry"...how can that combination of words NOT be good?!?

    2. Honey Pig is great for Korean BBQ.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Worldwide Diner

        Lively atmosphere and cheap booze but I don't know about great. Their offal and specialty items are good but for grilled meats you can do better elsewhere. I think Honey Pig licensed the name from the OG restaurant in LA which I found to offer far superior meat quality.

        1. re: shake N baik

          I was underwhelmed with Honey Pig. It's an industrial operation. Get you in, serve you fast, and get you out. The food was meh. Soo Won Galbi in Centreville was much better.

          1. re: dpan

            I think all of that is probably true. That said, I've never had a bad time with Korean barbecue and Honey Pig isn't an exception. I got the check mid-meal, which seems to be very common. But I also was able to order a lot of alcohol cheaply, so it balanced out. So, I guess there are better ones, but it satisfied me.

          2. re: shake N baik

            Agreed. I do recommend Honey Pig to people, but I do so more as sort've an oddball, slightly wild, fun experience. The food is tasty, but nothing special.

        2. I like Anangol for BBQ. Pork rib and duck.

          5 Replies
          1. re: wineo1957

            Extra points for duck - not that easy to find. I'll try it soon. Marinated duck is the best, but I'm willing to dip into sauce then grill.

            1. re: Steve

              They marinate or not as you choose, you have to order 2 orders to get it so go with more than yourself. They grill in back and bring it to the table on a plate for the beef, I seem to think they do the duck on a pan over butane at the table. Good if limited banchan. I heard about it from Korean friends.

              We tried Honey Pig when it first opened and it was quite fine, but way down hill since. Anangol is somewhat across the street from HP on Tom Davis in a strip mall.

              1. re: wineo1957

                I'd want them to do the duck at the table. That way, I can start to eat but the duck gets crispier and crispier as you go along.

                Thanks for the tips. I already have my bib one.

                1. re: Steve

                  Even with the food done in the back, they put it on a glass platter and it sizzles as it crisps off. It is much juicier than typical due to the higher heat of the large grill.

            2. re: wineo1957

              Maybe a dumb question -- is it just not a good idea to do this as a solo diner?

            3. I think there are a number of places in VA I'd hit before A&J, including Bangkok Golden for the Lao menu, "Honk Kong Palace" which has new owners and is now a Sichuan restaurant, and Myanmar, a low-profile but totally excellent Burmese restaurant.

              1. Reporting back:

                I was able to hit Oegadgib at about 10 p.m. on Saturday. Greeted by the owner out front and the crowd was lively inside. Ordered the seafood pancake (good) and the server was OK with ignoring the minimum-of-2 order for the pork belly BBQ (although it was cooked in back...no problem, I was a little tired and didn't need any extra theatrics or attention). The pork belly was good, but not out-of-this-world great. Not too long into the meal, one of the other servers brought me a little dish of sesame oil and salt, saying "I think you need this" and that little, simple addition was a nice touch. Again, the sides were fine (7 of them) but not appreciably different from my local Korean restaurant up in MN. I liked Oegadgib mostly for its warm, welcoming, and festive atmosphere...I think if I visited with several friends and sampled more of the menu, I'd discover dishes that shine.

                Eyo was the other from my list that I hit. Ordered the kafto, server said "you want that well done?" I wonder if she saw me pull up in a minivan with Minnesota plates (don't be jealous). No thanks...gimme the raw. Again, nice lively atmosphere but the food wasn't eye opening. I was hoping for something like the gored gored at Dukem I had as part of my last DC Ethiopian meal and it wasn't that. Satisfying meal: Yes. Would I go back: Probably not.

                One home run was finding that my hotel was less than a mile from Wegman's which meant three breakfasts in a row were solved as follows: Walk in, grab bialy, grab 1/3 pound of lox, grab coffee and cream cheese, return to car and devour. In my 23 years in Minnesota, I've only known one bialy to exist (at a chain that quickly discontinued them). What a joy it was to find one, albeit just an average version of one. The salty lox, even more rare than a bialy in MN, was perfection. I'll be at the door at 6 a.m. to stock up for my drive back to MN.

                Other meals: Elevation Burger because I pretty much had to (based on location and available time). I hadn't heard of this place before, but their claim to fame is fast food that doesn't make you feel like you ate fast food. Grass-fed beef, "real" cheese, fries made in olive oil, etc. It was fine. I like really thin shoestring fries, so that was probably the highlight. I prefer thicker patties, rare to medium rare, so fast food joints are generally 2nd rate. This wasn't an exception there. (Side note: Similar to the "kobe" burgers craze, doesn't it kind of defeat the purpose to griddle grass-fed burgers to medium well?) Anyway, their cheddar cheese was good. For fast food, this is a good option. But I'm sure there are many, many better burgers available around town.

                Piero's Corner on Main St in Fairfax. This was a group selection and the place was fine for that. I had a wood-oven pizza which was OK (my internet here at the hotel sucks, otherwise I'd grab the name off the menu...it was "white" with arugula, mozzarella, and something else, plus I added anchovies). The others' entrees looked OK as well...nobody complained. Maybe my enthusiasm is tempered knowing there are all sorts of great options nearby (including Pupuseria El Buengusto that I noticed hiding next to the 7-Eleven across the street). Oh well.

                I also had a dish of Baskin Robbins chocolate with peanut butter ice cream for old-time's sake. Not noteworthy at all except that, like a bialy and great lox, this food-of-my-youth doesn't exist in Minnesota.

                Thanks again for all of your recommendations. I never, ever get to hit all of the place I want to and, especially, the tiny little gems I seem to drive past constantly. Like I always do, I'll file the ones I didn't get to away for next time.

                6 Replies
                1. re: MSPD

                  I had the kitfo at Eyo last week. The version with cottage cheese, clarified butter, and spices. It was as good as it gets, but it's not the same dish as gored gored. They have a version of that on the menu, though I think it's called something else.

                  The problem with getting the pork belly cooked in the back is that you can't dip it into the gochujang before you fry it to a crisp.

                  I went to Elevation Burger once years ago and never went back.

                  1. re: Steve

                    Elevation Burger has a decent strawberry shake, if memory serves. Their burgers were fair, with Ray's Hellburger on the upper end and 5 Guys on the basic burger end, Elevation is kind of second tier.

                    1. re: Steve

                      First off, where the heck did I come up with "kafto"? Oy. I guess I should stay away from the computer while still in a food coma. Kitfo. Kitfo.

                      Interesting contrast in experiences though, Steve. I understand kitfo to be marinated in the butter with herbs and sometimes mixed with the mitmita. I was thinking the flavors should be more pulled together and present. I really couldn't discern any herbs at all, nor was there any of the buttery quality. Sure, not the same dish, but the gored gored at Dukem took simple - and similar - ingredients and made them shine.

                      Basically the kitfo at Eyo was a big bowl of virtually unadorned minced beef and two separate small piles (the mitmita and the cheese). It didn't strike me as having much thought or care.

                      Maybe it's just a case of expectations being off -- I guess time will tell when I have a chance to try a few more orders at some of the other well-regarded places.

                      re: the pork belly, you're probably right on. The gochujang was a nice complement to the pork, and I can imagine it would be great as you explain. Next time...next time....

                      Thanks again for your great input.

                      Dave

                      1. re: MSPD

                        It seems as if your kitfo was served differently than I had it last week. Mine was served in a special, large two-compartment bowl. One half a cottage cheese and clarified butter miixture, the other half beef. 50/50. When it is overturned on the platter, it all gets kind of mixed and the butter drenches the beef. The spices are served on the side so you can dip the mixture into the spice. I ordered the special kitfo which costs $1 more.

                        The vegetables I had weren't as good as the last couple of times. Such are the vagaries of life, I hope they are not getting lax in their preparation.

                        1. re: Steve

                          Say what?!? Ha ha.

                          I guess I should have gone with the "special kitfo" (and, therefore, recommend anyone reading along do the same). That sounds really great and kind of what I was expecting out of the standard based on the description on the menu.

                          You live and you learn I guess.

                    2. re: MSPD

                      I agree with you on Piero's. The food is decent and it's a good compromise for a group. Good to know about Elevation Burger. I had considered grabbing lunch at the Tyson's location last week but couldn't think of any rave reviews. All I really hear about it is "well...it was ok".