Mandu Rang Kimbap Erang in Annandale

My very favorite Korean place has added a couple of tables outside and is certainly the safest, most enjoyable, and most utterly authentic eating experience for Korean food in the DC area. If you want to know what eating out in rural Korea is like (or in the back alleys of Seoul), this is it. I find it hard to tear myself away from old favorites, but this time we added a new dish.

We once again ordered the braised mackerel with radish, which comes out in a bubbling cauldron. I don’t know how they get the rich gravy of this dish so blazing hot and delicious, but I could just drink it down.

The new dish was ginseng hen, which also comes out as a bubbling pot, but this time in a delicate white broth with ginseng root, jujube, rice, and a small hen, intact with skin and bones. Getting at the meat is a project with just chopsticks, but is totally worth it. The contrast between the red pepper gravy of the mackerel and the silky white smoothness of the hen gives you the best of both worlds. I was in heaven.

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Samgye-tang is the name of the very famous Chicken-Ginseng Soup

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Thanks for that, I blanked on the name. I could have read that on the menu, but I didn’t take the time. I have long heard about this dish, but never ordered it before, maybe because of how it looks.

Yep. Not pretty but delicious.

When we were in Seoul, Toni and I ate at Tosokchon Samgyetangm, which is the most famous restaurant serving the ginseng chicken soup. The place was packed and peopl


e were taking group photos and selfies outside to document their having eaten there.

The restaurant is very traditional. No shoes are allowed and everyone dines together sitting on the floor at long communal tables. The chicken soup is delicious, but its flavor is very delicate, which was a little bit of an adjustment from the otherwise emphatically non-subtle Korean cuisine.

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There are some Korean dishes like seullongtang (beef bone broth soup), sujebi (hand torn noodle soup), kalguksu, (knife cut noodles, often with manila clams) and kongguksu (cold soy milk noodle soup) that have very gentle flavors. Most Korean places specialize, so you might not find these dishes unless you seek them out, just like you sought out the samgyetang.

That place looks very good. Apparently they serve ginseng liquor…

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I’ve had the beef bone broth twice, which is enough for me to definitively conclude that it’s not to my taste. I do remember having had some knife-cut noodles somewhere in Annandale, but the memory is not very specific.

Maybe I should have said that my personal taste in Korean food runs to the non-subtle.

I had the seulongtang once at Gamasot (the name of the large pot it’s cooked in) and it did not interest me. Kalguksu, done right, can be terrific. Same for sujebi, but I doubt you can find it done well here.

I was most happy about the difference between the mackerel and radish dish and the samgyetang. I probably wouldn’t order only the latter for a meal. Though I have made kongguksu at home several times.

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The cold Korean noodle soups – especially the ones with ice in them – are a taste I have not managed to acquire.

Kimbap and mackerel hot plate.
Good stuff with good banchan too.

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Glad you liked it. With some notice I’d be happy to join you on your next foray in the area.

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I have long said that Korean cuisine is maybe the weirdest, especially the nangmyeon which is served ice cold with cubes of ice thrown into the steel bowl.

I remember my first Korean meal. No English spoken and maybe no English on the menu, I ordered what I thought was a beef dish, but then the waitress came out with something that looked like jello. I was perplexed. That’s what I ordered?!? Turns out it was part of the banchan, which I didn’t know about.

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I will give you a heads up before I hit Annandale again, I have been wondering what real Budae Jjigae tastes like. I like my own, but it isn’t “made by Mom”. LOL!
Yesterdays trip was a rush one. My well water conditioning system uses Sodium Hydroxide to leach salt out of the water. The SH dispenser tub went berserk and dumped way too much SH into the water making the water rather caustic. I didn’t know there was a problem until I stepped into the shower and my face and scalp started to burn. Luckily, I had my eyes closed but it burned my face as if I was out all day in full sun. Feel better today, just some peeling skin around my eyes and ears.
Yesterday during my clinic visit my doctor told me not to eat spicy food for a day or two, vasodilation this or that. She is something of a foodie so I asked her, “Would you skip spicy food for a day just because of this??” She said, “This is about you, not me.” LOL!
She did fess up and admit that she would still eat spicy food.
So I hit a Korean restaurant on my way out of town…

Well water, who would have thunk it?

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Sunday market in Ubud, Indonesia
Credit: Roozbeh Rokni, Flickr