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To Sok Jip, Annandale - Authentic Korean Pillbox on Columbia Pike and Backlick Road


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I have been wanting to try this hole in the wall place. The only problem is that the menu is in Korean only, and I am not Korean. Anyone being to the place and can recommend a couple of dishes?

Thanks

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I have been wanting to try this hole in the wall place. The only problem is that the menu is in Korean only, and I am not Korean. Anyone being to the place and can recommend a couple of dishes? Thanks
From the review I read, the menu is in Korean and English. If you have any familiarity with Korean food, you can either point at someone elses plate or attempt a bit of Hangol. Koreans are shocked and pleased when Meeguks attempt Hangol.
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I really like the banchan at this place. The stews and soups are solid bets but my favorite are the grilled or braised fish. I have braised blue fish in spicy sauce (have no idea what the name for it in korean is) at it is great.

Soup

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Escoffier and I went there around 6 PM yesterday. It is indeed a small place with 7 four top tables and a six top table, 2 waiting staff, 2 busboys and a cook. The menu is a homestyle. (even more than Gom Ba Woo) We ordered Seafood pancake, young radish bibimbop and fried croaker. The seafood pancake was the best in town so far. The steamed rice comes with seaweed (wakame) soup, which is not served in the regular Korean restaurants. I haven't had the bibimbop for a long time so it refreshed my memory. Two of fried croakers were given with Korean miso stew. We enjoyed them. Service was nice but the kitchen was slow because it was packed. We planned to visit Yo Fruit after the dinner but couldn't go because we were full. If I go there next time, I will try noodles in clam soup.

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The seafood pancake was the best in town so far.
Absolutely. Full of squid and octopus and other seafood. The squid and octopus weren't overcooked so they were nice and tender. It was great.
Two of fried croakers were given with Korean miso stew. We enjoyed them.
Almost Southern (US not Korean) style. Breaded in a great crispy crust, the meat was delicate and excellent (and extremely heat hot). This is a dish you could feed your grandmother and she wouldn't have any problem eating it.
We planned to visit Yo Fruit after the dinner but couldn't go because we were full.
For around $36 (I think; I don't really remember), we ate enough for 4 people. The biggest problem with the food was it was so good, we didn't want to stop eating it.
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The seafood pancake was the best in town so far.

I second that. I finally made to to To Sok Jip yesterday and I loved their seafood pancake. It looked almost physically impossible to put so much seafood into that pancake and yet the octupus was still tender without any rubber band texture. There were also seaweed in the pancake which gave it a unique sweeet flavor. I haven't had alot of kimchi jjigae before, but their version was the most flavorful I have ever had. It was tangy and very spicy.

The menu was in English and Korean, but the lunch specials were written in Korean on a board. The entire restaurants smelled like fried fish and pickle, so I can see that it might scare away some non-Koreans. The quality and value of their food is unbeatable. I took the leftovers home and had two more delicious meals out of it.

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Might be a good $20 Tuesday place but it is a small place.
More then 10 people and the place would come to a standstill. There are at the max 7 tables (roughly what I remember) and they have a pretty consistent clientele. The food is excellent though...(going to have to go there for dinner this weekend, I'm getting hungry and it's only 07:00am in Amsterdam as I write this)
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going to have to go there for dinner this weekend, I'm getting hungry and it's only 07:00am in Amsterdam as I write this

i always get the munchies when i am in amsterdam. (there's a mother/daugher coffee shop along the canal heading to the museums, painted in van gogh, that bakes some pretty mean brownies. i hope they are still in business.)

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I tried to replicate the haemul panjeon at home, but wasn't successful in it. When I put that much seafood in the batter, the batter got too soggy. Maybe it was To Sok Jip's secret batter that made it so good or maybe it was the crack.

Might be a good $20 Tuesday place but it is a small place.

This place was already full at 5:00 PM on Saturday, so you can imagine what it will be like during peak dinner time. I think its possible for a late lunch or an early dinner on a weekend. Somewhere between 2:00-5:00 PM. Food also come out slow since they cook everything to order.

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I tried to replicate the haemul panjeon at home, but wasn't successful in it. When I put that much seafood in the batter, the batter got too soggy. Maybe it was To Sok Jip's secret batter that made it so good or maybe it was the crack.

Probably they are using Korean pancake mix which creates a bit crispy texture than regular flour.

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We (4 adults, 10 yr old kid and 2 yr old kid) went to To Sok Jip Saturday around 7:00 PM. The place was packed and people were lined up.

We waited for 25 minutes and got a four top table in the corner. I ordered bulgogi for two, fried croakers and Korean miso stew when we were standing in line (seafood pancake and tofu stew were not available at the time). The quantity was enough for all. Kids loved bulgogi and croakers. A small sized kimchi stew came along with the fish. I would say bulgogi here is more like sukiyaki but was delicious. The price was $60.00 for everything including tip. I thought about having a $20 Tuesday but the place is too small and too crowded so I would rather do 'On a whim' kind of dinner with DR.com friends. We went to Yo Fruit after dinner.

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The entire restaurants smelled like fried fish and pickle, so I can see that it might scare away some non-Koreans.

The smell is very noticeable and unpleasant at first, but I got used to it quickly. I went there just before noon and it was nearly packed. It stayed packed while I was there for lunch (on Thursday). I tried the kimchi pancake (why is their pancake reddish in color?), spicy beef stew, and fried croaker. I gotta say I loved the fried croaker - simple home cooking, just salt and fry (beware of the bones), eat it while it's hot. The spicy beef stew has great flavor, but I'm more of a fan of the veggies than the stringy tough beef. Is there a place that uses oxtails The pancake tastes different than others as well. I will try the seafood version next time.

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I tried the kimchi pancake (why is their pancake reddish in color?), spicy beef stew, and fried croaker.

As you see, Kimchi is red. :rolleyes: If you meant that their pancake was more red than any other Korean restaurants' pancakes, then I would say that the chef didn't scrape the stuffing enough whether it was intended or not.

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Mmm, croaker & seafood pancake sounds delicious! I will definitely have to try this place out for lunch sometime...
Some damn fine hae-mool pajun and the croaker (and the belt fish and all the other fishes that I've had there that Grover won't tell me the names of but it doesn't matter because they're mighty tasty) and the miso that comes with everything are all great. If you go, either go early for lunch or be prepared to wait 15 to 20 minutes for a table.
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We had a delicious meal at To Sok Jip with Grover and Escoffier. I got to try Bossam for the first time. I was always reluctant to order this because steamed pork just sounds boring, but it actually tasted really good when all the components came together. We also got the old standby seafood pancake. It was greasier than the ones I ordered in the past, but still tasty. Spicy pork and broiled mackerel completed the meal. The restaurant was full when we got there at 5:20, and by 7:00, there was already a line out the door. My 1.5 year old was really fussy at first, but eventually settled into a small area between the chair, table, and the highchair and enjoyed some seafood pancake, mackerel, and rice mixed with seaweed broth.

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My wife hates the smeller here. Just as I thought I was getting used to the smell and our food started arriving, a new wave of raunchiness wafts out of the kitchen. At this point the baby starts to get fussy and my wife used that as an excuse to leave the restaurant, telling me on the way out that she is never coming back.

I'm left in the restaurant to eat (i) kimchi pancake, (ii) short-ribs, (iii) fried croaker, and (iv) chicken noodle soup by myself. Of course we were warned in advance that it was too much food, but I didn't really care until my wife left. The croakers were deep fried this time (I prefer them pan fried so this was a little disappointing) otherwise the food was very good home-cooking.

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The Korean said there's only one good Korean place in DC and I was curious as to which place he was talking about, so I e-mailed him and this is the response I received:

The place is called 토속집 (Tosokjip), off Little River Turnpike and Columbia Pike, on the far side of the Giants supermarket. Their grilled fish is solid.

TK

TK = The Korean, not Todd Kliman. I don't know who The Korean is but he seems like a straight shooter.

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Sorry to hear about your wife's reaction. The smell of mackeral, which is really good @ TSJ, can be very strong. I've smelled of fish 4 or 5 hours later after having lunch at this place. Not a place I go to if I have to go back the work. The food is solid but it is very korean. This is not a place that cater's to western pallets.

If you go there around noon on Sunday the place is completely packed with korean after church crowd. Last time I was there, they asked how many. I said one and they said, we're sorry but we just cannot seat you today.

As everyone said, this is small place. It is also is not a woo lee oak. But I really like this place.

Soup

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Escoffier, I have to ask, if you're ever over on my side of town, will you weigh in on my local favorites, Kimchi House & Hunan Deli? I know that I like the food I get there, but have no idea where it falls in regards to other Korean restaurants, & I respect yours & Grovers' opinions. The only problem I have there, is that now my daughter is a pescatarian, it's harder to get something for her to eat- I love the spicy beef soup, yook gae jang, & spicy seafood soup, jjampong, & my son gets dumplings, but it's trickier for Lizzy....

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Escoffier, I have to ask, if you're ever over on my side of town, will you weigh in on my local favorites, Kimchi House & Hunan Deli?

Hmm, now I have to ask, which town and which side :D. Okay, a bit of digging and now I know. For a moment, I thought Kimchi House was the Korean restaurant just inside Woodbridge on Rt 1. Now Grover and I are going to have to take a drive and check out the food in two restaurants. Thanks for giving us what sounds like two more (from the Yelp reviews) authentic Korean restaurants.

Hmm, sounds like you need a Busan type restaurant for your daughter...there's one on Columbia Pike. I'll check with Grover for the name.

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Thank you to our birthday boy, Escoffier, for recommending the Haemool Pajun ($11.95), a massive seafood pancake, octopus and onion based for at least four people to split; if you're with two, you'll either waste half, take half (it's delicious later that night in the microwave with a drip of olive oil and fresh-ground pepper), or eat one heck of a lot of octopus along with your ONE entree - it's an eight-piece pie, each piece weighing about half a pound. The Jeyook Bokum ($11.95) was merely decent, but Matt will enjoy it for lunch tomorrow, and the Godeung-Uh Gooee BeakBan (the third $11.95 dish of the night) was grilled mackerel, mercilessly oiled (it's a very oily fish to begin with); a batter-fried croaker that came by, despite being deep-fried, seemed like the less oily option; the two generous pieces of mackerel were good fish, but they brushed them with far too much ugly-tasting oil, and we didn't want to finish the dish. The panchan was plentiful, a generous selection, and the bill, with a Coke and two Miller Lights was under $50 which was absurd for all the food we ate - there will be at least three full meals formed out of this. I've raised To Sok Jip to Italic in the DIning Guide which was an overdue placement. If you're in from out of town, and want a taste of authentic Korea, this is your restaurant of choice right now. Communication was difficult, but we did just fine. A lovely meal, even the Miller Lites tasted good; actually, downright appropriate. Thank you all for putting this back on my radar - I thought sure I'd been here in the past, but I don't think I have.

Cheers,

Rocks

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Menu items that I have questons on (for anyone who knows the answer...)

55 & 56 says "hard-boiled" - they really mean broiled, right?

51-54 are "cooked" fish - they're are fried, right? At least the croaker and cutlass are fried.

59 smothered dish made with skate fish - how is this prepared?

58 saury fish with kimchi and seasoning - how is this prepared?

The online menu doesn't have bo ssam (but the menu at the restaurant does).

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In 55 and 56, you see "jorim", it means cook meat or fish in soy sauce reduction (soy sauce + sugar + sake+ ginger + scallion + sesame oil + red pepper flake, etc)

51-54, you see "gooee" usually it means grilled but means deep fried here.

59, "Jjim" it usually means a steamed or braised dish. I would say it would be a spicy marinated braised skate.

58, I have to see this one. I know some people add saury to Kimchi stew but have no idea if this is what To Sok Jib is talking about.

You are right. They didn't list Bossam in the online menu.

I was a bit disappointed at the seafood pancake. I used to see various kinds of seafood, however, there was only a bunch of squid and scallion this time.

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I was a bit disappointed at the seafood pancake. I used to see various kinds of seafood, however, there was only a bunch of squid and scallion this time.

Yes, it's really just a squid pancake these days. At lunch we had a waitress who spoke English, but she was unfortunately the only waitress running the entire restaurant. Tea refill took forever, and we didn't get any ban chan refills.

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"You know, we really need to try that place someday."  That's what one of us inevitable says as we drive by on our way to another Korean dining establishment in the area.

Tonight I got off work a little early and we took advantage of it by finally trying To Sok Jip.  It's a tiny place that was bustling from the time we got there to the time we left.  The food was very good and well worth more trips to further explore the menu.

We started out with the spicy seafood pancake.  This thing was huge!  I've seen tires that were smaller.  It was chock full of squid, shrimp and veggies and absolutely delicious.

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Two bowls of soup that I believe was seaweed in a fish broth arrived next.  These must come with the pancake since we didn't order them and other tables with the pancake got them too.  I was hesitant about trying it as most other soups like this I've not like.  But this one was quite pleasant.

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Shortly before the pancake arrive, we got a nice selection of banchan

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Next up were the fried yellow croaker with soup in a hot clay pot (didn't get a picture of the soup that came along with this).  The croaker had  a light batter on it and the fish was moist and flaky.  It was nice when eaten with a spoon of the spicy soup.  We manage to pick both fish fairly clean.

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Last to arrive at the table was the spicy pork barbeque.  This was very tasty but didn't have the level of heat we were expecting.

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The tab was less than $50.  A feast with leftovers at a bargain price.

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9 hours ago, reedm said:

Nakwon is certainly more of a family restaurant, and it's not as flashy as Kogiya or Honey Pig.

If you want non-flashy, you might want to try To Sok Jip.  A veritable hole in the wall (a now freshly painted and new tabled hole in the wall) always with a line of people waiting to get in.  It doesn't get more home-style than this place.  Unless you go an hour before the usual dining times, be prepared to wait for a table.  The service is NYC warm and friendly, the panchan good, and the food excellent.  This isn't your mom's kitchen and if you linger after eating you'll get the "what the hell are you still here for" look because there are only about 10 tables and a lot of people waiting.

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On April 20, 2016 at 3:18 AM, Escoffier said:

If you want non-flashy, you might want to try To Sok Jip.  A veritable hole in the wall (a now freshly painted and new tabled hole in the wall) always with a line of people waiting to get in.  It doesn't get more home-style than this place.  Unless you go an hour before the usual dining times, be prepared to wait for a table.  The service is NYC warm and friendly, the panchan good, and the food excellent.  This isn't your mom's kitchen and if you linger after eating you'll get the "what the hell are you still here for" look because there are only about 10 tables and a lot of people waiting.

Details later but because of this post, we dined here tonight. After trying two Korean bbq places only to be denied, we ended up with a very short wait although we were 3rd in line. The food was so good my stomach hurts. 

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I ended up at To Sok Jip because of a review in the general Korean thread and want to tell my story rather than provide a traditional review (last paragraph explains why).

Again forgetting our anniversary, my husband I had not made plans to celebrate our 10 years married, 12 years together.  We did, however, find a babysitter so decided to go out for Korean BBQ because we love it but the combination of little kids and burning hot tables does not mix.

Our wonderful babysitter was late so we arrived in Annandale at 6, rather than 5 and it was raining. There were lines everywhere, out the door or a hostess quoted us a 9pm dinner time. I hate lines and waits and do almost everything I can to avoid them; usually.   

While driving to Honey Pig (our last stop before heading to our backup plan; food at a bar) I spotted To Sok Jip & told my husband that it got great reviews on DR. That was enough for him so we pulled in to the spot RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE DOOR. I saw the line but we could wait inside; it was still raining.

The Wait:  Maybe 20 minutes
We were the third couple in line for a 10 table restaurant and were worried about the wait but we were inside, together and cozy.  The lady in front of us handed us a menu and directed us to figure out what we wanted b/c the waitress was going to take our order WHILE WE WERE IN LINE.  We did as we were told.  We sat probably 20 minutes of arriving yet it was a “fast” 20 minutes because we were expecting BBQ and had to make new choices.

The wait at table: Non existent.

The banchan and drinks arrived as we sat down. One main dish came soon after and the second soon after that.

Order:

Bim Bim Bop in stone pot and it was almost too hot to handle as I put away my left overs. Of course I’ve had bim bim bop before but the broth at the bottom of the stone pot was by far the best ever of my entire life.

I don’t know the name of the other dish. I thought it was fish soup but the grilled fish was served on one plate and the “soup” with tofu was served in a separate little stone pot.  It was amazing. Both dishes were excellent yet different. 

Editorial comments:
We are not Korean; we are not sophisticated about Korean food. We do, however, love food and appreciate strong flavors.  This is a little, intimate place that without the DR review, I would have not attempted. I hope that you give it a chance because the food was marvelous.

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On 5/31/2016 at 2:28 PM, NolaCaine said:

IBim Bim Bop in stone pot and it was almost too hot to handle as I put away my left overs. Of course I’ve had bim bim bop before but the broth at the bottom of the stone pot was by far the best ever of my entire life.

Bi Bim Bap in the heated stone pot is Dolsot Bi Bim Bap (one of my favorites).  The dolsot means stone pot.  That way you know what to order next time.  The best way to eat it is to mix the veggies and the egg and red pepper paste, being very careful to leave a thin layer of rice at the bottom of the bowl.  As you eat, the rice on the bottom cooks and crisps.  Once you finish everything else, you get the absolute best part (well, to me anyway).  That crisped rice is wonderful.  You break it up with your spoon into bite sized pieces and savor the subtle flavors.  (incidentally, crisping rice like this is also common in Persian cooking where it also a treat).

It sounds like they added bori cha (corn or barley tea) to the rice at the bottom of the dolsot.  I prefer it without the bori cha.  Try it that way the next time, you may like it. 
 
Incidentally, the fish at To Sok Jip is amazing as well.  I'm not Hanguk either but I sure am glad I have a Korean wife who has introduced me to such wonderful food.

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4 minutes ago, Escoffier said:

That crisped rice is wonderful.  You break it up with your spoon into bite sized pieces and savor the subtle flavors.  (incidentally, crisping rice like this is also common in Persian cooking where it also a treat).

Not to mention a perfectly-executed paella.

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On 4/3/2018 at 11:03 AM, FranklinDubya said:

 I'll definitely shoot Escoffier a pm, thanks!

Must have gotten lost in the mail... :) We're always happy to help others experience Korean food.  Don't be afraid to just point if something looks good (or interesting).  At places like To Sok Jip, you're going to run into a minor language problem and you'll discover that true Korean food service has absolutely NO connection to American service. Korean service may seem a bit abrupt if you're not used to it, don't take it personally, most Korean restaurants are small and the idea is to feed you and get you on your way.

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On 5/25/2018 at 8:10 AM, FranklinDubya said:

One question for more experience Korean diners - how does one properly eat a seafood or kimchi pancake?  The slices they had were a bit unwieldy for chopsticks but it didn't seem to work great as hand food either... we felt like we were probably missing something.

You take a slice and then using your chopsticks (one in each hand),  you tear it into bite sized pieces.  Please don't eat it with your fingers.  :)

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On 6/21/2018 at 1:15 PM, Escoffier said:

Must have gotten lost in the mail... :) We're always happy to help others experience Korean food.  Don't be afraid to just point if something looks good (or interesting).  At places like To Sok Jip, you're going to run into a minor language problem and you'll discover that true Korean food service has absolutely NO connection to American service. Korean service may seem a bit abrupt if you're not used to it, don't take it personally, most Korean restaurants are small and the idea is to feed you and get you on your way.

Derp, I never sent it, but thank you for the response! I think your response sorta hits the nail on the head with my experience at To Sok Jip when I went there which I personally didn't mind at all.  My dining companion and I are typically devour our food quickly and go in with a good idea of what we want which worked out well.

On 6/21/2018 at 1:24 PM, Escoffier said:

You take a slice and then using your chopsticks (one in each hand),  you tear it into bite sized pieces.  Please don't eat it with your fingers.  :)

... whoops..  well this is tremendously helpful for next time so thank you!  

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