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Kimchi House, Richmond Highway in Fort Belvoir - Run by two Korean Women, Has Its Own Vegetable Garden


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I got a takeout order from this charming little restaurant the other day-I can't believe it's taken me this long to try it, since it's right around the corner. Now, I was ordering mostly for my kids, to feed them before I had to go out, so that determined my menu choices. Bulgogi ($8.95) was my favorite, a good sized portion, chicken teriyaki (yes, I know, not particularly Korean-$8.95).was a bit sweet for my taste, sides of rice & panchan-red kimchi, napa & jalapenoes, daikon, bean sprouts, & potato.

For my son, the dumpling king, we got the 10 pc.fried dumpling plate ($9.95), I really liked these, mostly meat w/ a bit of glass noodles,maybe cabbage & spicy dipping sauce. We'll definitely eat here again, I'd like to try the yook gae jang (spicy beef soup), dae gu mae woon tang (spicy cod stew), jap chae bab, & bibimbap. It's like a little cottage in the woods, w/ a small garden outside, plopped on the side of Rt.1...

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I had lunch here today. I've gotten takeout before, because the parking lot always seems empty, & I hate to be the only diner in a restaurant -made myself a deal that if I drove past, & there was at least one car there, I'd stop. There were 5 other tables while I was there, so no worries about solo dining.

The yook gae jang (spicy beef soup) was delicious, but I may still go back to takeout. Between the enormous bowl of soup, 5 dishes of banchan, & large bowl of rice, I barely made a dent in it-the lady said, "next time we"ll give you a small bowl of rice".Although I assured her that everything was delicious, I still felt guilty...

One question-does anyone know what the brown things that look like twigs, but are soft, would be in the soup?

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That was my best guess, just looking for confirmation...from what I could see, everyone besides me was having bulgogi, might try that next time.

Matt called it. You can pick them up at Super-H on the far left side (the side with the dairy products) about 2/3 of the way down the aisle if you'd like to add your own.

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Because of exams, high school has half days this week, so Tom suggested we go to Kimchi House for lunch-bulgogi for him, chicken bulgogi for me, & an order of dumplings to share. I thought about trying the jap chae, because of the recent thread, but I would miss my rice. The restaurant was busier than I've ever seen it, there were 10-12 tables dining while we were there,as well as a couple of takeout orders. Food was delicious...

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It's worth it if you're in the area, but it's not mind-blowing...just homestyle Korean. I think the yook gae jang (spicy beef soup) is better than the bulgogi, which is a little sweet. I give a slight edge to ThaiBox, which is amazingly spicy, fresh, & flavorful (& even further off the beaten path) -I got a lunch special last week of Thai pesto noodles w/ shrimp that was memorable, but you have to mix it up once in a while...I deferred to my dining companion, who was craving mandu.

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We just got back from having dinner here. I've been a little grumpy lately, and this was the kind of quiet, soothing place that eases the stress. There were two other groups in there when we went. Surprisingly, I thought the kimchi was a little substandard, but the spicy pickled radish made up for it. The chapchae was good, reminding us of how a Korean friend makes hers at home with lots of black pepper. The ohjingoh bokeum was good, pieces of squid stir-fried with vegetables in a spicy sauce. The squid was tough, but the whole dish had a good flavor.

We'll be back here to try it again.

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My chiropractor is in this area, and I was in the mood for Korean food, so I gave it a try. I had a lovely lunch, although service was slowwww (particularly at check time).

Appetizer: the small (5 pieces) of friend dumplings. Meh. Not bad, but not great. Should have saved my appetite for more panchan (had about 5 different ones, kimchi, spicy cucumber, radish, bean sprout, and a homegrown green veggie w/ garlic. all good, but I found it odd that they served it at the same time as my main course)

Main: I forget what the proper name of this dish was, but it was spicy chicken served on a hot plate with some veggies, with rice on the side (so, not a bi bim bap). perfectly spiced, great flavor, slightly oversauced and soggy, but that was forgivable given the great flavors.

verdict: I would (and will) go back when I am in the area, but probably not worth going miles out of your way for if you have decent korean options that are closer.

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Went there for dinner tonight. It's a good spot if you live in the area and don't feel like going to Annandale; the location is on a strip of Route 1 that has only a few other restaurants, including Pema (Italian) and Thai Herbs. But it's near Fort Belvoir so it certainly benefits from the proximity.

An order of 6 dumplings, two entrees (bulgogi and bi bim bap), and a bottle of Korean lager came to $33 before tip. Six panchan are gratis. As mentioned by others above, service is slow and pacing can be off (we hadn't finished our dumplings before the panchan and entrees came). I'd probably put this in the rotation as a takeout option.

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Six panchan are gratis.

Panchan is ALWAYS included with Korean meals.

we hadn't finished our dumplings before the panchan and entrees came.

Korean food is served when it's ready, not on some mee-guk schedule :D. The panchan comes with the "main" course. The service was exactly what it was supposed to be. Koreans eat and leave, they don't sit around and occupy a table for hours, therefore, when your main course was ready, it was served.

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Escoffier, you can probably tell that it's been a while (read: years) since I've been in a Korean restaurant so I had forgotten about the pacing in terms of food coming to the table. But that being said, the service was slow because they had one person taking care of tables and carry-out orders. She was very friendly, though.

I included the bit about the panchan because a poster above had said 5 dishes and I wanted to mention that we received 6. And perhaps I'm not quite used to having stuff show up for free. :D

Since I'm in the area it's nice to have it as an option, both for takeout and sit-down. It's a good value.

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Escoffier, you can probably tell that it's been a while (read: years) since I've been in a Korean restaurant so I had forgotten about the pacing in terms of food coming to the table. But that being said, the service was slow because they had one person taking care of tables and carry-out orders. She was very friendly, though.

She might have been the owner and the line cook and possibly the dishwasher as well :).

I included the bit about the panchan because a poster above had said 5 dishes and I wanted to mention that we received 6. And perhaps I'm not quite used to having stuff show up for free. :D

The numbers of panchan can vary all over the place. Depends on what's available, what's been made, what's in the walk-in and...who knows? The weather? Even places we frequent often vary the amount and number of panchan. The nice thing about panchan is that you can always ask for more. (I hear you with the "stuff show up for free" :D)

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Last weekend, Episode #7 in the series of MUST EAT NOW (brought to you by your friendly neighborhood triathlon training) found me near Fort Belvoir. Siri suggested Kimchi House, and who am I to argue with my phone when I'm lost in the maelstrom of glucose crisis.

The empty parking lot worried me, where were the workers and other dining patrons? It was mid-afternoon, a quiet time, but suspicion arose. Raging hunger shoved any lingering doubts into the next county, so I headed to the door. I opened it, tentatively, and...

Breathed a sigh of relief. As others have noted above, the interior is nothing like the exterior. It's charming and comforting, simple and clean. I noticed one table enjoying a diversity of dishes. I walked up to the staff relaxing at a table in the back, who assumed I was seeking takeout, but then seated me with a smile. I ordered nakji bokkeum (spicy octopus with vegetables, around $14), picture enclosed. Five panchan arrived, including the usual suspects of spicy cabbage, cucumber, mung bean sprouts, and thinly sliced sweet pickled daikon radish. I requested ggak du gi (kimchi of fiery cubed daikon) be added to the mix, which they obliged. Panchan hit the spot, not stratospheric but savory. Not a bad rendition of the main dish followed, tender octopus and tender-crisp vegetables. I prefer the sauce to have a bit more smoke and pungency, and this one edged to sweeter.

Tips from FourSquare suggest that during the summer, the restaurant grows many of it's own vegetables. Which is easy to believe, given it's location adjacent to a plant nursery business. I intend to return in summer to see if ultra-local sourcing transforms this into a destination-worthy find.

Odd Moment of Intrigue: Midway through my smoky smackin' tentacles, a mid-30s blonde woman came into the restaurant. She did not experience the same reception I did. A staff member said "are you alone?" before they sat her, she said no, she was waiting for someone, and they gave her two menus. She seemed like she had not been there before, and kept looking at the door once seated. Twice, other staff came up and said, harshly, "you waiting for someone?", which she confirmed. After that second inquiry, and the server walked away, she headed out the door. I have no idea what to make of this scene, except that if she was new to Kimchi House, she will not be back. And if she was not new, they know something I don't.

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This is my 'local', I had lunch (w/ Eric & Steve) at To Sok Jip on Friday, & I kept thinking, "this is just like Kimchi House (which is a little more attractive), the ladies fly past the table (at Kimchi House, I've only seen 1 lady in back & 1 in front), you should know what you want, ask for what you need-more tea & panchan, & be prepared to fend for yourself.

I used to work at Holly, Woods, & Vines (garden center) next door, & when I asked my boss about this place, she said, 'Oh, you mean the Korean whorehouse? (Yes, totally pulling one over on me, I must have 'naive' stamped on my forehead). Just glad I tried it out, along w/ other local favorites-Thai Nakorn, ThaiBox, Hunan Deli (also Korean), Taco Jalisco & Tacos el Costalilla (which got a $20 Diner write up from Tim Carman in Friday's WP)

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...Tips from FourSquare suggest that during the summer, the restaurant grows many of it's own vegetables. Which is easy to believe, given it's location adjacent to a plant nursery business. I intend to return in summer to see if ultra-local sourcing transforms this into a destination-worthy find...

OK, perhaps not destination-worthy, but pretty as a picture and promising.

Today's visit revealed an emerging garden, photos enclosed. Already abundant lettuce, early herbs, and various alliums peeked through pebbled dirt. My order of fried dumplings ($8) and ddukbokki ($9) probably did not reflect the seedling garden choices, but in another six weeks, they might.

The ddukbokki (rice dumplings in a rich spicy sauce with fish cake, green pepper, sliced onion) provided an ideal choice on this chilly, rainy day, highly recommended. The restaurant had the door propped open, and the sound of cars whisking through the streets created soothing salve for pleasantly spice-assaulted senses.

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Worth a detour? You're the only person I've ever known that's been. (Yours are the kinds of posts that put little mom-n-pops on critics' radar.)

I realize this comment is now out of date, but Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve fame likes this place.

According to the "Chef's Feed" app, he lists Kimchi House as one of his favorites (only 5 other places were picked by him). Specifically, he likes the Bi Bim Bap, saying, "The best spot for family Korean cooking. The kimchi is made from vegetables grown in the restaurant's garden."

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