Korean


My love for Korean food continues, but I haven’t found a good sit-down restaurant in DC yet.  Now while I love the Korean cart and Adam Express, neither has real sit-down capabilities.  So when I found out Yee Hwa was in DC and had some good reviews, I was hopeful.  

  • Food:  One of the things I love about Korean food is the banchan.  Now since I went at a dinner, I was expecting more than we were given, but it was still good.  For the main, I ordered vegetable bibim bap — which was pretty good (not as good as Heebeen or Woo Lae Oak) because the egg was too cooked so the rice couldn’t get crunchy.  They charge an extra dollar for the claypot, but it’s definitely worth it (although am bummed they did that).  At the end of our meal, they provided a small cup of cold tea with honey, ginger, and cinnamon (and other spices?).

Yee Hwa Banchan  Yee Hwa Banchan  Yee Hwa Vegetable Bibimbap

  • Service: Our server was very nice, although a little absent. 
  • Atmosphere: It’s a decent sized restaurant and has 40-50 tables.  The booths though need to be redone because where I was sitting, the springs were poking out. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: When you can’t get out to Virginia and want a sit-down Korean restaurant, this place is the closest I’ve found in DC to good Korean.  I’d definitely go back again and try some of their other dishes!

Details:

  • Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-10 pm Sat noon – 10 pm Sun noon – 9:30 pm
  • Address: 1009 21st St NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: 202-833-1244
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I  vaguely remember when Suki Asia opened — I think two or three years ago.  I have been once before and remember ordering sushi and it was pretty good.  But it had been a couple of years since I had been so I thought I’d try it again for the blog.  Their menu is pretty brief and actually fits on one page here

11/2008 – Here’s their updated menu.  Page one here and page two here.

  • Food: I was hungry and so I decided to order their original bibimbap and a bagel roll.  First, the bagel roll.  They get points for not dying their ginger to that horrible pink color and instead, leaving it to its original state.  I also give them major points for not giving me so much wasabi that I feel like I’m wasting it.  Their bagel roll was pretty good and I’d definitely order it again.  Next to the bibimbap.  I thought it was OK, but the bulgogi cart definitely makes a better version.  Plus, there was no egg.  And there wasn’t that much in there, but what was there was decent.

Suki Asia Bibim Bap  Suki Asia Bagel Roll

UPDATE: My lunch buddy kept raving about their udon mushroom with tofu so I had to try it.  It was really good (no MSG so no weird after-taste).  There weren’t a lot of veggies though, but the noodles and broth were really good.  A super filling lunch!

Suki Asia Udon Mushroom with Tofu  Suki Asia Udon Mushroom with Tofu

  • Service: They’re very nice and while it can seem busy with a lot of people, they are pretty efficient. 
  • Atmosphere: While it’s not a very big location, it has 5-7 tables.  The interior lacks much decoration, but considering most people are grabbing and going back to their office for lunch, it doesn’t really matter.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall:I think I’ll skip their bibimbap and go to the Bulgogi cart instead since it tastes so much better and is cheaper.  But I do like their sushi so I would definitely go back for that. 

Details:

  • Hours: Monday-Friday 10:30-5:30
  • Address: 1730 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: 202.463.3400

UPDATE 9/2008 — This is my new comfort food.  I go here so many times, it’s ridiculous.  My favorite is the spicy chicken bibimbap.  Yum!!!!

A friend of mine was raving about the Bulgogi cart — and with my love of cart food, I was intrigued and looking forward to going.  And avid readers of my blog know I don’t go to the same restaurant because I’m trying to try out as many restaurants as possible.  But in this case, I went twice. 

  • Food: They seem to be mostly known for their bulgogi, but they also serve bibimbap.  While I LOVE, LOVE bibimbap, I thought I should branch out (and besides, I knew I was going to come back). Plus, my friend said the bulgogi was really good.  I ordered the chicken version (they also have a vegetarian and beef one) and spicy.  There was a little Iceburg lettuce covered in a very light (rice?) vinegar and a side of kimchi.  The kimchi was really good and had such a great, unique flavor (of course, every Korean family makes kimchi differently).  The chicken bulgogi was pretty good and a little bit spicy (although they used all dark meat).  My second trip, I ordered their bibimbap (or as it’s on their menu, bibimbab).  While it’s traditionally with beef, I went with chicken again.  So good — it was healthy with a great mixture of vegetables, egg, and rice.  Plus, there’s a ridiculous amount of food — I mean, take a look at these photos!  The one on the left is the chicken bulgogi, middle is chicken bibimbap, next is spicy beef bibimbap, and the one on the right is of the cart (just so you don’t misss it!). 

Bulgogi Chicken  Bulgogi Cart Bibimbap Chicken  Bibimbap with Beef from Bulgogi Cart  Bulgogi Cart

  • Service: When I went, it seemed like it was a very nice mom and son who were working the bright yellow cart.
  • Atmosphere: It’s a cart!  You can only grab and go.
  • Attire: Whatever you want, IT’S A CART!!!  Ha, this is why I love carts.
  • Price: $
  • Overall:For $6.75 $7, this is a great place for lunch.  They offer ample portions in the Styrofoam container of the bulgogi chicken over white rice.  There was definitely enough food for lunch and dinner.  So yummy!  Oh, and here’s the menu:

Bulgogi Cart Menu  Bulgogi Cart Menu  Bulgogi Cart Menu  Bulgogi Cart Menu

Details:

  • Hours: 11ish AM-2ish PM Monday-Friday
  • Address: 14th and L (SE Corner of L and 14th Streets between N 14th St & N Vermont Ave) — it’s the bright yellow cart.  You can’t miss it.

I went to Adam Express (Menu Side A and Menu Side B— click on the lower right hand box with the arrows so it makes the menu bigger) with a friend of mine to try out their food after reading so many great reviews. 

  • Food:When we first went, it was packed (umm, there are only 5 stools so it’s not hard to be busy).  So we went to Tonic to grab a drink and then go back for dinner.  Of course, I ordered bibim bap.  It’s not like the kind you get in a restaurant, it was in a big bowl with a mixture of various vegetables and beef (so no clay pot).  But I have never felt like I was in someone else’s kitchen as much as I did here.  You could clearly see where they cooked and the ingredients they used to make their food.  The husband and wife team were adorable and very nice.  I really enjoyed the bibim bap, but it wasn’t like anything I had before in a restaurant — it was more like what someone cooks in their house.
  • Service: As soon as we walked in, the wife took our order and two seconds later, the skillets were heating. 
  • Atmosphere: Calling it a hole-in-the-wall is spot on.  As I mentioned, there are only 5 stools in the entire place and some are held together with wire.  But the intimate setting is great for a quick, tasty bite.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: Perhaps you have a bad day and you don’t live close to home, but you want something cheap and good.  You should go here.  The couple’s warm smile and the intimate setting can almost make you feel like you’re home.  Well, if your home is a place where Korean/Chinese/Japanese food is served.  Regardless, it was good food at such a cheap price! 

Details:

  • Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday; closed Sunday.
  • Address: 3211 Mount Pleasant St., Washington, DC 20020
  • Ph: 202-328-0010

When I heard Mandu, a Korean restaurant was coming into Dupont, I was excited.   Mostly because I am on a Bibim Bap kick.  Yum.

  • Food:I went with a colleague for lunch and we were hungry.  So we ordered “mandu” pan-fried appetizers, two veggie, two shrimp, and two beef & pork.  The table favorite was shrimp.  Since it was lunch, we only received 4 banchan — including kimchi.  I remember one of the banchan was potato and green beans which really lacked any flavor.  Then I think it was Sigeumchi-namul and Oi sobak-i — both were good.  I ordered *surprise* Bibim Bap in the stone bowl, but I wasn’t happy that it was an extra $2 (why?).  Whatever, I was going to spend it.  When the bowl came, the egg was partially cooked on the top instead of being raw (again, why?).  Despite the partially cooked egg, the rice managed to be a bit crispy (yay!). 
  • Service: Nice server who left us alone to have a conversation while still refilling our tea and water glasses.
  • Atmosphere: It’s a small restaurant on the main floor.  Upstairs, where the bathrooms are, is a nice sized room that can seat a 20+ group.  For those who want to BBQ at the table, you can forget it here because it’s not an option.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:It’s a good place to go if you need a “quick fix” Korean and you can’t get out to Virginia.  When a friend asked where she could get Korean in the area, I said that this was the only place I knew.  She has a much more extensive Korean dining resume than I do and when she returned from her experience, she said, “It’s very American-ized flavors.  But it was fine.” 

Happy Hour:Daily from 4-7 PM offering $4.00 Sojutinis; $4.00 Rail drinks; $2.00 Beers and $3.00 Mandu.

Details:

  • Reservations accepted (and recommended if you’re going during “peak hours” — you know, weekends and weeknights between 6-9 PM).
  • Hours: Mon-Thurs 11 AM-10 PM; Fri & Sat 11:30 AM-11 PM; Sunday 11:30 AM-9 PM
  • Address: 1805 18th Street NW; Washington, DC
  • Ph: 202-588-1540

It’s a rare occasion, but I went to Virginia.  I’m not against going to VA or MD, but it’s just that there’s so many excellent places in the DC-area.  And, it’s not the most convenient to try some of these places when you’re car-less.   I went to Heebeen with a friend who has a car — and loves Korean food.  She’s the same person who recommended Woo Lae Oak, so I knew she’d know what she was talking about.

  • Food: What I love about Korean restaurants is the banchan.  The second and third photos are of our half-eaten banchan and I will attempt to identify them.  In the second photo, top left it’s Sigeumchi-namul, then top right is Korean potato salad, then I don’t know what’s on the bottom left (but I didn’t like the gelatin texture but there was a good flavor), then on the bottom right is kimchi.  In the second photo, top left is Oi sobak-i and the bottom left is Miyeok-muchim.  In the last photo, that’s my bibim bap in a clay pot.  The reason I got the clay pot (thanks to my friend) is because the egg they put on the top, you mix it all together and then the egg keeps cooking creating an amazing rice and egg crust.  Oh God, so good. 

Heebeen Restaurant  Heebeen Banchan 1  Heebeen Banchan 2  Heebeen Bibim Bap

  • Service: I don’t think I drank the Diet Coke fast enough.  They were fantastic about the refills and very polite.
  • Atmosphere: While the restaurant is in a shopping mall and the exterior leaves something to be desired, inside it’s a HUGE restaurant.  In the middle is an enormous buffet that offers a sampling of everything. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: If I had a car, I’d eat here every weekend.  It’s inexpensive, healthy, and so good.  Plus, it’s filling — I didn’t eat dinner the night I ate here.  

Details:

  • Reservations accepted (though the place is 10,000 sq ft). 
  • Address: 6231 Little River Tnpk; Alexandria, VA 22312
  • Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 am – 11:00 pm ; Sat-Sun 12:00 pm -11:00 pm
  • Ph: 703-941-3737

**March 2008 Update: I have been to the one in Tysons and it’s definitely a huge, well-decorated restaurant.  They have an enormous room for private parties.  And most importantly, the food was yet again, AMAZING.  I love Woo Lae Oak.**

I haven’t had Korean in many (many) years so I didn’t remember if I liked it or not.  So when I went to Woo Lae Oak, based on the recommendation of a friend, I thought it was truly outstanding.  However, I went to the one in Pentagon City, not Tysons.  Unfortunately, I heard from a friend that the one in Pentagon City closed down.  So I’m going to recommend Tysons.

  • Food: Since I had never been before, my friend recommended Bi Bim Bap, fried egg served with rice, hot pepper pate on the side, served with beef broth.   The dinner was definitely memorable (in a good way!) and tasty. 
  • Service: Courteous and efficient.
  • Atmosphere: It felt like it was authentic.  It was casual and quiet, even though the tables were full and it was on a weekend.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: It was good and I have found myself wanting to go back.  Damn Pentagon City Woo Lae Oak for closing. 

Details:

  • Reservations accepted.
  • Hours: Daily 11:30 am – 10 pm
  • Location: 8240 Leesburg Pike Tysons Corner, Vienna, VA 22182
  • Ph: 703-827-7300