February 13, 2012

Experiencing Korean Cuisine in the DC Suburbs

I have never been to Korea, but I would like to visit someday. In the meantime, the closest I have been is Annandale, VA. This suburb of Washington, DC is home to Korean restaurants, cafes, bakeries, shops, and karaoke bars. A while ago my husband Jonathan and I joined some friends and headed out to Annandale for dinner.

After a short drive from the city we were walking into Honey Pig Gooldaegee Korean Grill. Inside a waitress led us to the back dining room. The restaurant is casual and vibrant with groups of people grilling food on the hot plates in the middle of each table. We ordered some Korean beer and lots of food to try and share - meats to grill, noodles, vegetarian bibimbap, and seafood pancake. The meal began with banchan (or side dishes). This consisted of several versions of kimchi and other vegetables.

Soon the rest of our food began to arrive. Jonathan and our friends enjoyed grilling and eating the meats - especially the pork belly. The seafood pancake was great - a crispy and light pancake made from rice and egg containing a variety of seafood and green onions. The bibimbap was also good. This dish contains rice, sauteed and seasoned vegetables, and chili paste. To eat it you mix some of each together. Everything was fantastic - spicy, pickled, and delicious. This is an array of flavors that is unique to Korean cuisine, but complement each other perfectly.

After dinner we went next door to the karaoke bar. Unlike American style karaoke bars with a stage where people have the opportunity to humiliate themselves in public, this bar was similar to those in Asia. Each group of guests are brought to their own small room where they can relax, laugh with friends, and sing. Definitely a different experience than humiliating yourself in front of a group of strangers!

Before driving back to the city, we stopped at Shilla. This bakery serves Korean style pastries and other sweets. We tried several different items including a light pastry filled with green tea cream . This was not too sweet and had a wonderful mild matcha flavor - a perfect dessert to conclude a fun evening out!

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