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Annangol, Korean Barbecue on Tom Davis Drive in Koreatown


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I went to Annangol for dinner and enjoyed it overall.  It's at 4215 Annandale Center Dr, in same shopping strip as Napoleon bakery.

The seafood pancake was alot of green onion, slices of carrot, and a few little bits of octopus and shrimp.  But mostly green onion.  The fried dumplings were good though a little greasy.

For the main dishes, we ordered short ribs on the bone, short ribs not on the bone, and spicy pork ribs.  The server brought a plate of lettuce/other greens for wrapping the meat.  She also brought a round platter divided into sections with banchan (including kimchi and a scoop of potato salad) and raw garlic, slices of long green peppers, and spicy bean paste to include with the lettuce when wrapping the meat.  She also brought a metal bowl filled with slices of onion.

Although there's a burner in the center of the table, she brought the meat already cooked. That's a plus or a minus depending on how much you like cooking it yourself.  We were glad to receive it cooked because then we could eat it right away without fussing with it.  The onion slices went on the burner with the meat.

The short ribs had a bit of a smoky flavor, and my parents were glad that the marinade was not too sweet.  The spicy pork was 1 bone plus meat, and the pork was not particularly spicy.  I liked the beef better overall.

(Annangol also has duck on the menu, both with and without special sauce.  The server told us it's a minimum of 2 orders though.)

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They also now have a location in the Chantilly area, on 50 just South of the intersection with 28.  We've eaten there 3 times in the past 4 months, with consistently good results.  14015 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy, same location that IL Mee occupied for many years.  There was an intervening Korean buffet place so crappy that we have forgotten its name.  Annangol has NOT kept the buffet.  

They have been cooking the meat most of the way in the kitchen for us, then bringing it to the table for a final sear.  I have not been observant enough to notice whether the Korean diners at other tables are receiving different treatment.  However, they brought a very generous portion of onions to our tabletop grill which seared into carmelized deliciousness before our partially cooked spicy pork belly was added. 

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We actually have a small cache of the groupons for them.  Groupons scare me because they are often a sign of a floundering business, but the Korean BBQ joints seem to use them, and Living Social, quite heavily.  They probably make it up in the alcohol bill when the groups of young people come in; our soju consumption is rather modest in comparison.

BTW, they have a picture menu for the Korean-dish-name impaired.

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I love Korean food, well the good stuff anyway, but my SO is vegetarian. Does a vegetarian stand a chance here?

If your SO is willing to have VERY limited options, yes.  If your SO eats seafood, I believe there are some soups that would work and their excellent haemul pajan (seafood and scallion pancake) would work.  In addition, you could ask for a vegetarian bibim bap, essentially veggies and pickled veggies over rice, either in a steel bowl (cold) or dosolt, in a sizzling hot stone bowl.  But you should call in advance.  In general, Korean menus offer very few vegan options.  Tofu-based soups generally have some seafood in them.  Banchan are mostly vegetarian, so they would be able to enjoy those.   Annangol's menu is more limited than that of many of our area Korean restaurants but I have yet to see one that has a vegetarian section.

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Dolsot Bibimbap.  You can also get mung bean pancakes and, if you ask, meat can be left out of anything.  Duk Guk (usually duk mandu guk) is rice cake soup without the mandu (sacrilege :D).  I believe when Grover arranged the dinner at Gom Ba Woo, there was a vegetarian dish.  If you ask, you can get almost anything without meat you want (within reason. Don't think you'd get Galbi Tang minus the beef).   Most Korean restaurants are happy to see mee-guks eat Korean food and they want you to enjoy it  (no matter how strange your request :) ).  Incidentally, there is shrimp in one form or another in almost every type of banchan.

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Dolsot Bibimbap.  You can also get mung bean pancakes and, if you ask, meat can be left out of anything.  Duk Guk (usually duk mandu guk) is rice cake soup without the mandu (sacrilege :D).  I believe when Grover arranged the dinner at Gom Ba Woo, there was a vegetarian dish.  If you ask, you can get almost anything without meat you want (within reason. Don't think you'd get Galbi Tang minus the beef).   Most Korean restaurants are happy to see mee-guks eat Korean food and they want you to enjoy it  (no matter how strange your request :) ).  Incidentally, there is shrimp in one form or another in almost every type of banchan.

I'm often suspicious of "vegetarian" options at some Asian restaurants since there can be a language barrier and for some the concept of vegetarianism is strange. They might claim something is vegetarian, but are they using beef/chicken/fish stock in the sauce? Are they deep frying those veggie rolls in the same oil as everything else (of course they do)?

Oh well, I guess I'll have to make some adventurous foodie friends who aren't vegetarians.

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Annangol recently has remodeled and is back to a BBQ menu with a wonderful set of ajummas taking care of you.  Think tough love! They make sure you are having a good time but there is no nonsense about their service.  

The star of the show here is the plate of greens you get with the BBQ. And the Mul Naeng Myun. And the BBQ! 

When you order BBQ you get a huge plate of greens from leaf lettuce to perilla leaf, to a chicory or dandelion relative and more.  There is a Korean long pepper which is mild and sweet at the tip and gets increasingly hot from the halfway mark to the stem.  A couple of carrot slices round out the selection.  You also get a metal tray with a center portion of doenjang sauce surrounded by sections with pickled veggie {chayote the last time, something else the time before in a tangy vinegar marinade,} seaweed with a gochujang spiked sauce, kimchee, sweet pickled shredded daikon, garlic & jalapenos.

The mul nayen mum is a large bowl filled with loads of cold buckwheat noodle in a tangy, icy broth which can be had spicy or not.  The bowl is decorated with asian pear, cucumber, daikon and a slice or two of thin sliced brisket.  You spike the soup with mustard sauce {tastes like it has wasabi in it} and white vinegar.  This is a must have with BBQ both for its cooling effects and because the mix of the rubbery chewy noodle and the bbq meats is sublime.

The BBQ is fabulous.  Since the remodel and return to BBQ I have only been in by myself for the lunch specials: pork for $13.99 and the beef for 18.99 or so. For one person, they are prepared in the kitchen and brought out sizzling on a metal platter on a bed of onions.  The beef is cubed and very tender with loads of flavor. Not sure of the cut. The pork is probably off the shoulder and in thinly sliced small pieces that get a little char around the edge from the spicy marinade. It is available mild as well.  

On the menu and to be sampled on future visits are pork jowl and duck.  Pork neck and jowl are some of the best cuts in Korean BBQ and not widely available, so I can't wait to try.

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An amazingly good meal tonight with fabulous company: Kobe {turbogrrl} and Nic. Oh yeah, Kay was there too! We think we may have come perilously close to collapsing into black holes from eating so much food!

BBQ is cooked inthe back on a superbly hot fire and then served to you in a pan fulled with white onion over a sterno heater. The onions brown over time and add aroma and something good to eat too! We tossed in hot green pepper cloces and garlic.  

Marinated short rib was the rib butterflied into a long strip with the bone attached. The meat takes on a caramelized toastiness and was extremely tender. This is the best galbi of recent memory. Unmarinated boneless galbi {jumuluk?} is cubes of short rib meat, charred on all sides. Note: this is the meat on the beef special lunch where it is 17.99 or 18.99 which is $6 cheaper or so than at dinner. The third BBQ we ordered was pork jowl which is a pale pork cut with a good chew. It is very rich. They give you salt and sesame oil to dip the jowl.  

Mul Naeng Myun, cold buckwheat noodles, are a fabulous accompaniment to BBQ and one order was enough for all of us to share.  I added vinegar to the communal bowl and each of us was responsible for adding their own mustard. 

My favorite part of the meal was the steamed pork belly {listed as such on th emenu but I am used to it being called bossam.} This was beautifully cooked belly that was then steamed lightly making the fat really unctuous. The accompanying mound of some sort of kimchee root, oysters and cucumber in a spicy gochujang based sauce is usually served with salted cabbage for making ssam. They gave us moe lettuce but I mostly just piled the belly with the kimchee and oter bits and pieces from the side dish platter. Each bundle included a lice of raw garlic and green hot pepper. FOr $29, it is enough for 4 to have a feast of pork belly or 8 to get a taste.  

Annangol is not a great place for banchan. They give you a round stainless steel platter with sections. The center is filled with daengjang. Then there is a kelp with hot & sweet sauce, cabbage kim chee {a bit aged and soft but with a hint of crunch left and not yet full sour funky. There was a sweet shredded daikon and fish cake with a bit of heat. Usually your BBQ comes with an impressive array of greens but tonight we got a sturdy leaf lettuce only. You get steamed egg {fabulous} and soybean stew {as usual, watery but pretty good}

A bottle of makkoli and one of soju rounded out the meal. $160 before tip, $200 after because our waitress was so nice to us, even going so far as to complement my barely understandable pronunciation of some of our dishes.  

Once again, this unassuming spot is really fabulous. I wish we had the room to try the moksal {boston butt pork shoulder} but we would have popped. 

They have a $9.95 lunch special with a grilled fish and a bunch of banchan which I need to order the next time I am in for lunch. 

Along with So, Annangol is my pick for top BBQ. The meats & cold noodle are better at Annangol, but the banchan star at So. I know all the hype is for Meokja Meokja and it is a superbly fun place with some great cheesy corn, but simply not int he class of these two.  

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