Somehow I managed to (unintentionally) avoid much exposure to Korean food until I moved to the DC area a few years ago. Now, with more than a dozen great Korean restaurants nearby in Annandale, I can’t get enough. I’ve still only tried a few dishes, though- Bulgogi beef is great, spicy pork is my favorite so far, and the seafood pancake my favorite starter.
What else should I try that most Korean restaurants will have?
I don’t go to restaurants but I do go to a local Korean market around here.
I like the spicy garlic stems and those spicy sesame seed leaves.
I’ve eaten a bunch of other stuff that I liked to but I have no idea what it as as the guy behind the counter doesn’t speak English. I just have to point at what ever it is I want and say “Gimme that!”
It’s a spicy soup laden with soft clumps of silky tofu, bits of meat and veg. It’s served in a red-hot stone pot, still actively boiling and simmering as it’s set down. You crack an egg into the soup and let it poach, and maybe spoon some rice into it as well.
On a cold day or if you have a head cold, there’s nothing better.
And with every meal, there are those awesome “side dishes”, or ban chan. Assorted pickles and salads and tidbits, all you can eat.
I really like the bean sprouts in white soy sauce appetizer. And a little ball of rice with a smear of black bean paste and a thin slice of garlic wrapped in a napa leaf. With short rib right off the grill.
Sunny side up egg on a fresh bowl of ramin. With fresh cut scallions.
I’m not a Korean food expert by any means, but I used to live in Annandale and I miss the range of restaurants! I would second the stone bowl (dolsot) bibimbap, or the mul naengmyeon (noodles in cold soup, which is very refreshing).
Go to Honey Pig, if you haven’t been already, and get any of their pork belly-- ask for sesame oil and salt to dip into. Omnomnom. Or just order a bunch of meat and side dishes; it’s hard to go wrong there. Yechon is good too, and open 24 hours, in case you are craving anything at 3 AM.
Also, if you can find a market selling hotteokin the winter, go for it-- just make sure you don’t remove several layers of skin with the lava-like filling, although some would claim that’s an essential part of the experience.
For those that don’t know, bulgogi and galbi are end results of Korean barbecue. I assume you’re referring to Korean barbecue as the experience in a restaurant rather than the actual barbecued meat which is included in other dishes like bibimbap.
For anyone wanting a good bibimbap in DC, I suggest Seoul Food. Yes, it’s a food truck but it’s very good. Some of their food is more like Korean fusion. I’ve had their Korean chili dogs and some other non-standard offerings, but I think the bibimbap is their best. The superbowl is also good.
They just opened a brick-and-mortar take-out near Wheaton Metro, so I’m not sure if the food truck will still be operating as normal.