Today is Korean American Day, which commemorates the arrival of the first Koreans to the United States on January 13, 1903, and celebrates the contributions of Korean Americans to our country. I’m not going to pretend to have a lot of knowledge of Korean culture, because I don’t. My cultural experiences are limited to eating Korean fried chicken in Beijing and having Korean BBQ a couple of times in New York and Virginia. However, I do want to take this opportunity to point out that nearby Annandale, VA, is home to a large Korean American population, and there is a pretty wonderful Korean food scene there.
A couple weeks ago, my friend Hutch, recommended that we go to Annandale to eat at Yechon, a restaurant that serves up Korean fare 24 hours a day (located at 4121 Hummer Road). Hutch is a native of Northern Virginia and has excellent taste in food, so when she told me this was her favorite Korean spot in the area, I knew I was in for a treat.
Just pulling up to the parking lot and seeing the neon lights on the outside of the building, I was excited to walk in. The dining room was full, but nonetheless, we only waited about twenty minutes for a table. The steady crowd never died down, even by 9:00pm on a Sunday night, which is a testament to the restaurant’s popularity. As I looked around the large, comfortable dining area, I noticed that many of the patrons were Korean Americans—a mix of large groups of friends, multi-generational families, and couples dining. Seemed like a good sign that we were about to eat good Korean food!
And, we were not disappointed! I let Hutch do all the ordering from the VERY EXTENSIVE menu. We had quite a spread, including some Hyeomit Gui (beef tongue) and Chadolbaegi (thin sliced beef brisket) to BBQ right at our table. I had never had beef tongue before and was a little squeamish at the idea. But, as a food adventurer, I decided I should at least try it, and I’m really glad I did. It just tasted like beef—shocker!—and, it was delicious.
The food came out with an assortment of side dishes. I don’t know what everything was, but it included some daikon radishes, bean sprouts, kimchi, mixed vegetables, sugary potatoes, etc. We also ordered a 5-piece sushi appetizer to honor my commitment to finding good sushi in the DC area. (It was very fresh and flavorful. I need to come back here to order more from their sushi menu.) And, of course, we had to have some hot tea.
Then we got some Galbi Dolsot Bibimbap (rice, vegetables and beef ribs) and a big bowl of Boyangtang (goat meat soup). Hutch loved that the bibimbap is served in a sizzling dish, so the rice continues to cook and gets a nice crunch to it on the bottom. I enjoyed the gaminess of the goat soup, which I mixed with some steamed white rice. It’s something unique that I don’t find myself eating often.
Everything was great, and we did a pretty good job demolishing it. Then, as we were rubbing our bellies and feeling quite full, we got to use one of my favorite features of the restaurant—the “Happy Call” button on our table. Like magic, our check arrived.
I LOVED my Korean dining experience at Yechon. There’s something special about the way the food is served and shared. It’s not only tasty, but it also invites a feeling of community and joy. I want to come back here with a large group of friends or family. It’s an experience that definitely needs to be shared.