This is a part review and part request for recommendations. We've lived in the area for a while, and eat Korean food fairly often for lunch and dinner. Below is our review of the places we frequent. We really would love to expand this list, so if there are any hidden gems we haven't explored yet, do please recommend. Thanks!
Chung Dae Gam BBQ
This is by far our current favorite, despite what they lack in decor. It's authentic wood charcoal grilled meats at great prices, and their galbi dolsot bibimbap is hands down the best we've had outside of Korea. The dolsot(stone pot) is always heated enough to make nu-rueng-ji(crispy rice). This places has yet to increase their price(they merged with another for a while and seems to have split up and is back to their old menu), so a BIG bargain in every way, can't recommend enough.
This is our second choice place. Prices were hiked by 1-3$per menu item in the last year. Still does every menu item decently, though uses sugar and butter rather liberally. flavor is consistent and decent decor/flavor/price combination works. I'd avoid menu items with meat(such as galbitang or wooguhi galbitang) meat is not their specialty)
We used to call this our favorite in town when they opened few years ago, but have since either changed chefs or intentionally "Americanized" their seasoning and have begun to cater to occasional tourist bus groups(i.e. no longer aiming as a quality high-end restaurant) Delicate flavors are gone, just more salty and sweet, and have raised their prices. Now it's so-so foods at raised-prices. wish they would raise the quality again, or at least lower their prices, but we will still use this place to change things up once in a while.
Seoul Garden (formerly Bok Dae Ji)
This place seems to change hands every couple years. currently runs a buffet with a grill at each table. dinner ranges $18-20(fri-sun) before tax/tip.sushi is fresher earlier in the evening on weekends. meat quality is better than heebeen or ill mi buffet (I don't recommend heebeen or ill mi, unless some drastic change has been made; meats quality at these places seemed the worst), but still is a Buffet grade meat. flavors tend to run very sweet(try the pure sugar that is their sik-hae)
Prices are about if not higher than Han Gang, menu is slightly more diverse. Nice decor since the renovation, but the chef does not know how to cook. Overly salty and sweet, flavor is lacking.
We tried this place when initially changed management and renovated few years ago, and disliked it, forgot just how much we disliked it and tried this over priced one again last week. Really not worth their prices. We are done with this place.
Gom Tang E
It looked as if (equipment wise) maybe they brew their own gom tangs, though I've been told all restaurants nowadays serve from a canned premix. This place has the worst kimchee of any gom tang place I've ever eaten at(napa, radish, all inclusive) and serve their Gom Tang lukewarm(wish they would use stone soup bowls to keep hot). This place opened fairly recently in Annandale, and is a recent discovery for us, so will see after exploring their menu a bit further.
Haven't been to this place in the last year(used to be one of the few bigger Korean restaurants in the area back in the day), really liberal with the use of MSG (leaves a bitter after taste) and used to give so much trouble for taking home left overs. Not sure if still doing the lunch buffet, but unless their MSG habit has changed....is a no go.
Heebeen and Ill Mee Buffet
meat qualities were poor (we were questioning if they were serving up "commercial" quality meats vs fit for human consumption) when we tried them a few years ago and haven't gone back since.
things may have changed? don't know.
6231 Little River Tpke, Alexandria, VA 22312
Sorak Garden Restaurant
4308 Backlick Road, Annandale, VA 22003
Seoul Garden Restaurant
7133 Columbia Pike, Annandale, VA 22003
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