Introduce your palate to Asian food that isn’t Chinese or Thai with today’s deal: $15 for $30 worth of Korean food and drinks at Mandu in Dupont Circle, one of the few authentic Korean restaurants in the DC area.Besides, they’re only cute because they taste so good.
At Palace Korean BBQ, diners watch as meats sizzle atop tableside barbecue pits, flanked by a colorful mélange of marinated vegetables, rice, and Korean condiments. In addition to Korean barbecue, kim-chi, and bi bim bop dishes, Palace’s expert chefs chop fresh ingredients and simmer them in teriyaki sauce or roll them into fresh sushi and sashimi. Their sharable Japanese shabu-shabu dishes also warm empty bellies.
Decorated with minimalistic earth tones, Asian masks, and dark wooden tables and chairs, the dining room fuses traditional and contemporary elements better than a supercomputer glued to a horse-drawn carriage. Throughout the eatery, bamboo stalks spring up from square pots, glowing in the same neon lights that illuminate the fully-stocked bar.
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.
Lauded for both its cuisine and its atmosphere, Woo Lae Oak seats diners in spacious tables, booths, and portable pods, in which they can enjoy a distinctly Korean-American blend of abstract wall furnishings and traditional Korean artwork. The expansive bar, centered about a large fireplace with a modern tile hearth, features ample space for enjoying Soju and sushi. Please call ahead to confirm your reservation.
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.
Hungry twosomes can warm up palates with organic tofu miso soup and a starter to share, such as a Dragon Taco, a combination of eel, cucumber, and salsa tucked inside a grilled-tortilla sleeping bag. The second course confronts chopsticks with two of more than 35 special rolls, including the Crunchy Infinity, a symphony of shrimp tempura, spicy crab, cucumber, masago, and crunch flakes, and the Out of Control, which attacks tongues with tuna, salmon, soft-shell crab, and spicy tuna, all drizzled with spicy aioli. Special rolls are then sidekicked by a choice of two classic maki such as California rolls, spicy-scallop rolls, and Spider rolls—deep-fried soft-shell crab dressed in the finest bright-orange masago overcoats.