Born and raised in Seoul, Yesoon Lee grew up learning how to cook traditional Korean comfort foods. Today, she continues to embrace the recipes and the flavors of her homeland by recreating those dishes at Mandu: the restaurant she opened with her children, Jean and Danny. With locations in Dupont Circle and the Mount Vernon Triangle, Mandu also tempts patrons with an inviting charm that led The Washington Post to claim that the eatery, “knows how to make a diner feel good.” In addition to steaming or pan-frying the dumplings— or mandu—that inspired the restaurant’s name, Chef Lee and her team forge a variety of iconic Korean dishes. Barbecued beef short ribs and stir-fried potato noodles appear alongside classics like bibim bap. The mixed meat, veggie, and egg dish is served in a hot stone bowl, which helps to heat the rice from the bottom and explains why all of Mandu's tables look so relaxed. And although each location features a small selection of wines by the bottle or glass, they pair meals with a handful of Korean beers as well as soju—Korea’s most famous distilled spirit.
The sounds of sputtering grill tops, clattering utensils, and lively conversation fill the dining room at Honey Pig Restaurant, earning it praise from the Washington Post in 2010 as "one of the most entertaining barbecues around." The menu brims with both familiar and adventurous meats, including pork belly, beef ribs, and pork neck. Diners soak in Korean culture via both the food and K-pop, selecting a protein-rich spread and watching as the servers sear their orders on solar-heated tableside grills.
Korean specialties such as barbecue short ribs, kimchi, and?of course?tofu soup fill the menu at this casual restaurant with outposts in Annandale and Centreville. Among the chefs' crowning offerings are steaming bowls of bi bim bap that cradle bulgogi (Korean-style marinated beef) as well as heaps of bean sprouts, corn, and fried egg. Depending on personal tastes, the spice levels of each dish can be custom calibrated from ultra-mild ?white? to three-alarm ?spicy spicy.? But not all dishes served here come to the table piping hot, including the cool naegn myun soup, a refreshing summer dish loaded with buckwheat noodles, slices of beef, and hints of Noreaster.
The sign outside is unassuming and the inside––bearing nothing more than a few stools––may make newcomers wonder how Adam Express stays in business. But one bite into a fresh sushi roll or Korean entrée makes it all clear. Those who happen to snag one of two seats in front of the open kitchen can sit and watch as chefs prepare kimchee and bibimbap to order without flavor enhancers like MSG or chocolate syrup. Besides Korean specialties like chap chae––vermicelli noodles with shredded beef, veggies, and soy sauce––the chefs cook up a number of Chinese dishes such as fried rice and lomein, and blend Japanese and Korean traditions to make bulgogi sushi rolls, which feature marinated beef, crab cakes, and pickled radish.
Ultimate Chicken Bistro’s housemade dishes incorporate signature soy-garlic sauce, spicy crushed-red-pepper sauce, and ingredients from Asia and Europe. Yet, unsurprisingly, one ingredient dominates the list: chicken. The lengthy menu, broken down by the region from which each dish takes its inspiration, occasionally strays into shrimp, beef, or vegetables, but poultry steals the show. Prosciutto and swiss cheese stuffed inside a roasted chicken breast tempt diners to sample the chicken cordon bleu, and the Korean-style fried chicken's secret blend of spices is as mysteriously delicious as a steak pulled out of a magician’s hat. Inside the restaurant, sleek wood tables surround an open kitchen space behind glass, creating an inviting space to enjoy a rib-sticking meal.
Formerly known as Honey Pig Dumpling, Honey Pig Chicken now broadens its menu beyond steamed bundles of flavor. Even when she isn't present, the pink cheeks and puckered lips of co-owner Mickey Kim still watch over Honey Pig Chicken. Depicted as a warm, friendly cartoon, Kim looks out from a banner that hangs over the counter inside the Catonsville Lotte Plaza's Asian grocery store. That playful personality is reflected in Honey Chicken's aesthetics as well as its menu, which encompasses seven sweet-bun dumplings: beef bulgogi, pork, mixed vegetables, curry with potatoes, shrimp, chicken, and kimchi with ground beef. Newer dishes include spicy Korean-style fried chicken or pork and ddukbokki—a traditional plate consisting of fish and spicy rice cakes.