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.
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.
At HeeBeen Asian Bistro, visitors delight in a culinary exploration that’s aided by a wide buffet counter topped with myriad dishes that invite sampling. Trays of Korean barbecue meats lay next to hot entrees of ramen, teriyaki, tempura, and oysters rockefeller. After trips to the sushi section, patrons’ chopsticks grip morsels of unagi nigiri, slices of sashimi, or pieces of a smoked sake crunch roll. While enjoying their spread, patrons sit beneath ceiling-mounted cubes lit from within, comforted by sleek woods that dominate the dining room. And behind one of the buffets, a glass case shows off small pieces of art beneath clusters of small fairy lights.
Woomi Garden's expansive menu teems with authentic Korean barbecue, fresh entrées, and schools of sushi. Lunchtime combinations serve up an assortment of fresh sushi served with miso soup ($9.95), or spoon out yook gae jang, whose shredded beef and spicy broth grant both satisfaction and the ability to start a fire with a mere whisper ($8.95). Diners can kick off dinners with an appetizing appetizer of lightly battered and fried soft-shell crab ($8.95) before diving into hearty entrées, such as broiled chicken teriyaki doused in flavorful sauce ($15.95). The popular bulgogi, a dish of marinated, tender beef rib eye, arrives sliced thin for an easier slide down fun-loving fork tines ($19.95). A variety of special sushi rolls, such as the Rock 'n' Roll, warm the cockles of the belly, snuggling a mouthwatering medley of fresh salmon, eel, flying-fish roe, crab, avocado, cucumber, and lettuce ($11.95). Once organic furnaces have been fully fueled, cool off overheated mouth-grates with sips from a sake martini ($5.50) or a glass of wine ($4.85).
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.
With a savory selection of fresh seafood, delectable steaks, and tasty sandwiches, Gaffney's menu features classic American cuisine with a Cajun and traditional Southern influence. Land-meat lovers can hunker down with steaks ($21–$29) and barbecue pork ribs ($22), while diners desiring delicacies of the deep can partake of the specialty Maryland crab-cake sandwich ($16). After tasting the jambalaya ($20), the New Orleans shrimp etouffee ($21), or the bayou stew ($24)—a hearty helping of shrimp, scallops, and crawfish in Creole-mustard sauce—tone-deaf taste buds find themselves serenading incisors with John Fogerty lyrics.