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FunnyJohn

Hee Been, Landmark, and Hee Been Asian Bistro and Buffet in South Arlington

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Went to Hee Been last night with the guys for a little farewell party for one of us. Our host was the architect who designed the interior of this place which is quite stunning. Had beef and chicken BBQ with all the fixins' and a good sample of the sushi and sashimi offered at this establishment -- washed down with soju. Don't recall much other than that food was excellent. The staff doesn't speak much English, but if you can find some Korean friends to escort you go.

Hee Been

PS: Mee Kim the young bartender is very cute and enthusiastic -- just the way I likes 'em cool.gif

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The dinner is good, at least as good as Sorak Garden, but the lunch buffet is a steal at $13. It is a 3 sided permanent buffet: the first side has jap chae, different dumplings, pancakes etc.; the second side has 6 different types of meat, raw, which you can copok at your table or have the chef cook, this side also has various soups and rice. The third side has different salads, kimchees and all the things from the little dishes that usually come out first. There are also desserts and sushi (not so good). Its usually pretty crowded but there aren't waits on the weekdays.

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The dinner is good, at least as good as Sorak Garden, but the lunch buffet is a steal at $13. It is a 3 sided permanent buffet: the first side has jap chae, different dumplings, pancakes etc.; the second side has 6 different types of meat, raw, which you can copok at your table or have the chef cook, this side also has various soups and rice. The third side has different salads, kimchees and all the things from the little dishes that usually come out first. There are also desserts and sushi (not so good). Its usually pretty crowded but there aren't waits on the weekdays.

Disagree. I like the sushi (as unlimited sushi buffet goes--you don't expect Makoto quality at these prices); the buffet items are fine but not enthralling to me. Either way, it is without question a good deal at lunch. However, with TemptAsian now rolling just across the parking lot, it has become significantly harder to choose Hee Been. :lol:

Edited by johnb

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Dined at Hee Been this past weekend with some college friends and while I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food, I was hoping for better service and better value. First of all, the interior of the restaurant was the nicest of any of the Korean restaurants that I have been to in the area (I've dined at Sorak Garden and Songbird in Tysons)...so props to FunnyJohn's architect friend.

The four of us sat down to orders of kalbi (beef short rib) and shrimp for the BBQ, mandoo (dumplings), and bibimbap. Kalbi and shrimp were well marinated, the mandoo was stuffed with a great pork mixture, and the bibimbap was sizzling with its usual flair and crisp vegetables. However, I couldn't help but notice that the portion sizes (particularly the BBQ items) were smaller and prices higher than other Korean restaurants.

As for the service, while far from being horrible, it certainly left much to be desired. For reference purposes, our section was no more than half full so the restaurant was not overly busy. Several examples...after consuming some of our side dishes (panchan), I was surprised that our waitress didn't bring more or offer to refill them as I'd previously experienced and thought was typical practice (perhaps I'm wrong on this). Additionally, and perhaps more bothersome, was the fact that the one time she approached our table after grilling our goodies she only offered new drinks to the two in our party that had purchased alcohol while those of us drinking water weren't even offered a refill despite our glasses being visibly empty.

All in all, we still ended up having a great time socializing (as Korean dining is known for causing) and enjoying well-prepared food. I just wished that the value and service I'd experienced at other area Korean establishments would have been there as well.

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My wife Barbara and I had dinner last night at Hee Been. We've been several times, both before and after renovation. Also, I spent several months in Korea quite a few years ago on a student exchange program.

We decided to try one of the "Casseroles", since we hadn't tried them before. It's like a hot pot they put on the barbeque burner in the table in place of the grill top. We got the Hae Mul Jun Gol seafood casserole. I would not recommend this. You get to watch squid and shrimp overcook in front of you, not a plesant thing when your hungry enough you'll eat the damn stuff anyway even when it has the consistency of rubber.

I like the place. I like the grilled meats, the soups, the noodles. I love their panchan. I even like yook hwe (raw beef entree). Just avoid the seafood casserole.

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My wife Barbara and I had dinner last night at Hee Been.  We've been several times, both before and after renovation.  Also, I spent several months in Korea quite a few years ago on a student exchange program.

We decided to try one of the "Casseroles", since we hadn't tried them before.  It's like a hot pot they put on the barbeque burner in the table in place of the grill top.  We got the Hae Mul Jun Gol seafood casserole.  I would not recommend this.  You get to watch squid and shrimp overcook in front of you, not a plesant thing when your hungry enough you'll eat the damn stuff anyway even when it has the consistency of rubber.  

I like the place.  I like the grilled meats, the soups, the noodles.  I love their panchan.  I even like yook hwe (raw beef entree).  Just avoid the seafood casserole.

Interesting report. Why don't they serve the seafood (uncooked) separately and allow the diner to put it in the pot and extract it before it gets overly done? Incidentally, the seafood casserole was featured in a photo that accompanied the article about Korean restaurants along the "Little Korea" stretch of Little River Tnpk in the Fairfax version of a Post insert a few weeks ago -- although Hee Been was only mentioned in passing in the article, it had two photos -- I guess that would be 2,000 words :lol: Edited by FunnyJohn

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Interesting report.  Why don't they serve the seafood (uncooked) separately and allow the diner to put it in the pot and extract it before it gets overly done?  Incidentally, the seafood casserole was featured in a photo that accompanied the article about Korean restaurants along the "Little Korea" stretch of Little River Tnpk in the Fairfax version of a Post insert a few weeks ago -- although Hee Been was only mentioned in passing in the article, it had two photos -- I guess that would be 2,000 words  :lol:

HeeBeen is one of the better Korean restaurants in this area, though the food was better before the renovation/expansion IMHO. I don't think Sorak Garden is very good - been there a few times and have always been underwhelmed.

Korean food has so much potential to really take off, if only restaurants took their service more seriously. Being Korean-American, I actually eat out Korean food rarely because the service is mostly crap. :P

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Interesting report.  Why don't they serve the seafood (uncooked) separately and allow the diner to put it in the pot and extract it before it gets overly done?

I don't know, although I suspect they keep the casseroles premade in a fridge in back, then add the broth when ordered and run them out. We did try saving the taste, if not the life, of the shrimp by starting to pull them out early, only to be admonished by the waitress to leave them in, as they were not done yet. I don't think I cringed, or at least not where she could see me.

HeeBeen is one of the better Korean restaurants in this area, though the food was better before the renovation/expansion IMHO.  I don't think Sorak Garden is very good - been there a few times and have always been underwhelmed.

Your experience mirrors mine on both Hee Been and Sorak. Any secret under the table tips on the best place for Sollongtang?

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We did try saving the taste, if not the life, of the shrimp by starting to pull them out early, only to be admonished by the waitress to leave them in, as they were not done yet.   I don't think I cringed, or at least not where she could see me.

Sounds like a Korean version of the "Soup Nazi." Whatever happened to "the customer is always right" ? :lol: Edited by FunnyJohn

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Google tells me that Sollongtang is "bone and internals soup."

Sollongtang's stock is made from oxtail and other bones of the cow, which should produce an opaque, watered-down-milk-like stock that is rich in beef. To serve it correctly, you add rice noodles (angel hair style) and a bowl of rice into a hot stone pot, add the almost-boiling stock, and bring it to the guest. Sollongtang is typically served with chopped green onion, salt, pepper and sometimes red pepper flakes. Because the stock is barely salted, people get to adjust to their liking.

That's how I remember my sollongtang from the g'ole days at home - whether it was the sight of seeing rows of hot pots sitting on the grill at a small, no-frills restaurants in Seoul or worrying about the simmering pot of stock left over night in my mom's kitchen. :lol:

Edited by Jonu

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Sounds like the Korean version of Pho.

Well, it's not exactly like Pho, since you usually consume it with a hot bowl of rice on the side (and sometimes served in the broth). BTW, the best sollongtang I've had in the US is in K-town NYC- Gam Mi Oak (on 32nd b/w 5th and 6th) is a destination spot for this soup. Great kimchi and gakdugi (cubed spicy radishes) too, and you'll find that places that specialize in this soup tends to have superior kimchi than your average Korean restaurant. Still yet to find a great bowl in this area though... hmm, maybe my project for this winter? :lol:

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I had a friend of a friend over at my place last night who's just got back from several years in Seoul and over a few ales he mentioned a casserole-ish dish he particularly enjoyed that's served with a pig spine, allowing you to suck the tender meat off the vertebrae like a lollipop. Anyone come across that in these parts? (Not to digress too much, I hope.)

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Sollong tang is traditionally served (alongside the scallions, etc) with slices of boiled beef tongue and tripe.

The broth is similar in nature to pho, except pho has much more seasoning in it.

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Any secret under the table tips on the best place for Sollongtang?

"Gamasot." In the old Hechinger's shopping center off of Backlick Road (I think the address is Springfield), a little south of the intersection of Backlick and Braddock Roads. It's a "jun-moon-jip," or specialty-shop. They do sullungtang, neng-myun, and I think that's it. Oh... soondae too.

The name, pronounced as it's spelled ("sot" rhymes with "wrote"), refers to the large cauldron that the sullungtang simmers in for like 48 hours (if memory serves), before serving. As with many other such dishes, there's really no substitution for the "real thing." The decor is surprisingly nice and modern for a hole-in-the-wall Korean place... there are two kitchens, and the one adjacent to the dining room is a glass wall. You can watch the guy (presumably the owner) do the "final plating" and scoop the stuff into your clay bowl.

James (jaimetown), I heard that Gam Mee Oak in NYC is gone! Might be misinformation, but a tragedy for sure!

Gamasot is... well... I wanna say that it's "just as good," but I dunno... part of the fun of Gam Mee Oak was that we were in Manhattan, which added to the experience. Leaving Gamasot, turning to your right, looking past the group day laborers to see the abandoned Hechinger, and driving past the Burger King... doesn't add to the experience... but the sullungtang is the real thing. Oh, and yes, they give you a clay pot of kimchee and kaktoogee (radish kimchee) that's cut up with scissors. JUST SHY of what I remember the Gam Mee Oak kimchee was. But the sullungtang itself is just as good. There! I said it!

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The other night, with our (overpriced, but decent) kalbi, we got a cold (sweet potato?) noodle dish. The noodles were cooked and mixed with a red chile paste that was full of chile flavor, but not actually "hot." It also included some long, thin strips of beef and (my favorite) white pickle. This noodle-salady dish was a fantastic! It was a great counterpoint for the rest of our aggressively spicy and strongly-flavored meal. But, the dish did not really have a special name, as it was a side order option with the meat. Is it called anything specific, so I can order it at other places? Anybody have an idea?

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But, the dish did not really have a special name, as it was a side order option with the meat. Is it called anything specific, so I can order it at other places? Anybody have an idea?

Of course, what you had is exactly called 'Bibim Naeng Myun'. When you order a cold noodle dish, the server will ask 'Bibim Naeng Myun' or 'Mool Naeng Myun'. Bibim naeng is potato starch noodle with spicy sauce and is originated Hahm-Hung (a city of north eastern area in North Korea). Mool Naeng Myun is buckwheat noodle with cold beef broth and is originated from Pyong Yang where North Korean capital city is located.

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My secret pleasure food wise are Korean all you can eat buffets that include BBQ. That way I can have a wide range of grilled meats when on my own. I usually go to IL Mee as my one experience at Hee Been had been nothing special and more expensive. Yesterday I arrived at IL Mee 15 minutes after opening time and they were not ready with the sushi. Since I always start my Korean AYCE experience with a plate of sushi, I thought, sonce I wll ahve to wait, why don't I check out Hee Been again. Glad I did.

First off, Hee Bin has lowered their price to $13.95. Secondly, the place is spiffed up with a larger super friendly staff. Third, the food was on yesterday. Korean sushi is full of rolls where the thought process seems to be if 3 items make a good roll, let's have 17 ingredients!!! The rolls are so outrageously overdone that it does not offend the sushi purist in me. Plus with only taking a slice of each, I don't get bored by one type of excess. But in addition to the rolls {my favorite being a role with at least 5 identifiable ingredients roll inside with a slice of fresh mackerel on top and two, count 'em, two sauces squiggled over} the nigiri was good as well. Rockfish, red clam, mackerel, squid all quite good on rice that could have used a little more su.

The cooked food lineup looked better than the tiny tastes I took showed them to be with the exception of the spareribs. If you grew up where special occasions were celebrated at Trader Vic's over PuPu platters of enormous size and flaming "Zombie" drinks of even larger size {drunk by your parents who would then be too hammered to drive you home but did so anyways!!!}, then these spareribs hit a nostalgic spot in the heart. Cooked till all the fat was rendered and the meat still a tiny bit chewy and covered with glop the consistency of Henry's 208 roofing compound and with enough sugar to make the diabetic products department at Aventis profitable for the next year, they were just the thing! I dearly wanted a second but my insulin was at home.

But the star of the show was the kim chee and side dish section. If I went to a Korean restaurant and got banchan as good as these I would be a happy camper indeed. Incredible potato salad, marinated shiitake, seaweed salads of various types, white kimchee all were fabulous! The BBQ features nice slices of skin on pork belly and a platter of assorted tripe & viscera of cow as well as a very respectable bolgoggi, all cooked charmingly by a waitress who basically fed me piece by piece as they were ready. She also ahd to play tricks with the soy sauce pitcher and the flame control on the grill to get it to work right.

They also has seafood Shabu Shabu as well as three kinds of soups/stews/hot pots that one could have cooked to order {Udon, soybean past stew and Kimchee chigjae I think} . I stuck to a very good miso soup from the hot bar.

As I left, full but not to the bursting point, I realized that this was not just a good buffet meal, but a pretty damned good Korean meal on an absolute level {as good if not slightly better than our last few meals at Yechon for 1/2 the price}. They serve the buffet late at night {10 till 2am} for the price of $9.99 so I will try it. I hope they can pull off the same quality at Midnight on a Saturday as they did at 11:50 on a Thursday.

The only downside to this is that the meduim sake was #13.95, $.04 less than my meal.

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They serve the buffet late at night {10 till 2am} for the price of $9.99 so I will try it. I hope they can pull off the same quality at Midnight on a Saturday

The late night BBQ buffet is just that. BBQ. Kimchee, sweet daikon pickle, lettuce leaf and green onion shreds. And Meat. Piles of meat. It was good, very good. Better BBQ than most, not quite as good as Honey Pig. And the belly has skin on it which makes for a yummy chew. Perfect for when a carniverous mood strikes and there are not enough folk to make a big variety make sense at HP. Meat! It what's for dinner!!!

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I finally got to the Arlington/Crystal City location just before the LivingSocial deal expired. Sushi is surprisingly decent for a buffet. The tables don't have grills, so all of the meat is either cooked and served on the buffet or cooked to order. In addition to the buffet, they do cook kalbi, bibimbap, and dolsot bibimbap to order, included in the price of the buffet. Dolsot bibimbap wasn't great, the bowl either wasn't hot enough or the rice wasn't in it long enough to get the crunchy rice crust in the bottom. The kalbi was very good, not the best I've had, but certainly tasty, with some nice grill char and flavor. A couple of pieces were all fat, or were tough and stringy. The spicy pork on the buffet was good too. I didn't try the soups.

All told, it's not my style. I'd rather have buffet where you grill all of your meat. If you're desperate for Korean and in Crystal City, it's there, but I'd almost always drive to Annandale.

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I was at Annadale recently, just off 395 at Little River Turnpike....not great, but not bad. The raw meat part of the buffet looked pretty good, as did the ban chan, so it might have been a better idea to go with the table cooking. I was disappointed by the selection and size of the sushi, but I chalked it up to the fact that it was a buffet. The hot dishes at the buffet were more or less what you might expect for somewhat Americanized Asian fare, notwithstanding a healthy mix of ethnic Asians in the clientele. There are simply better options for Korean all up and down Little River Turnpike.

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