Duck Bulgogi at Annangol in Annadale
Annangol in Annadale has been there forever seemingly, but my first visit was prompted by the enticement of duck bulgogi, which is hard to find in this area.
I think this will be the last time I let a waitress manipulate the tongs. I'm thinking of politely shoving them out of the way in the future. The problem is that real Korean bbq is a slow meal- it takes time to sear the meat.
I liked everything about the meal, though Annangol is going to be nobody's romantic ideal of great Korean food. Everything is good, even the kalguksu (noodles, usually with chopped clam) a simple dish I find actively bad in most places here. At Annangol , they use seaweed for flavoring in addition to two large clams.
I ordered the duck marinated, but this turns out to be only a gesture. They throw some light sauce on it before serving, which burns off quickly and has no effect on the duck.
The stone pot bibimbap here gets a better crust than anywhere I've been, though I prefer a bbb where all the flavorings are in the pot already. This is yet another do-it-yourself affair.
Grilled mackerel was very well executed.
Banchan here is not terribly exciting, though we wound up with a bubbling pot of egg custard, a doenjang jigae, and IIUC a clear soup with fermented vegetables that went with the bbb, but could be slurped on its own.
I would return here if I get to work the equipment.
The key to eating grilled duck is to eat it plain. As soon as you dip it in a sauce, the distinctive duck flavor becomes hidden and the meat becomes very similar to the taste and texture of pork belly. Don't pay the extra cost for duck if you're going to marinate or dip in a sauce. Just eat it plain or go with the cheaper pork belly.
Since Korean BBQ is best when dipping meat in a sesame oil or fermented bean sauce, I don't think the price premium for duck is worth it (unless you don't eat pork).
However, if you really like duck, a good alternative is to grill it at home, which is a lot cheaper than what the restaurants charge. Wow Fresh Meat in Centreville sells thinly sliced frozen duck breast identical to what you'll find in a restaurant. Their sliced frozen beef brisket is also quite good.
The meal at Annangol was not a random experiment on my part. I've eaten fantastic duck bulgogi marinated for a long time that had a strong duck flavor. If done right it can be sublime, so I disagree with your generalization.
I've also had good duck that was plainly grilled. But the better flavor will come when it is very well seared, like most meats. If it looks gray, it's probably not at the best flavor.
I agree w/ your review, the duck was good, but as someone said, if you closed your eyes, you wouldn't know it was duck-it would benefit from longer marination & grilling. I thought the sides were good, & I really liked the fish (that's usually my favorite). Props for keeping my water filled & providing extra napkins. As far as bbq goes, I would give the edge to Kogiya, although I've only visited once.
The restaurant was good, the company was better, thanks for letting me join you...& I was wrong about ThaiBox, looks like it's open until 9pm.