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Woo Lae Oak, Upscale Korean in Tysons Corner - Closed


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Shogun's Woo Lae Oak is a neat call.  Not particularly inconvenient to get to.  Have any of us ever been there? 

That Woo Lae Oak is really not worth it. It is pricier than most other Korean restaurants in the Alexandria/Arlington area, and the service is really unfriendly. Many of my Korean friends who live in the area refuse to go there. Personally on my first and only visit, my bee bim bap was very average and the pa-jun dishes were very skimpy. I also heard (I live in one of the apartment buildings that neighbor it) that they will be moving out to Tyson's soon. Hee Been is so much better.

One that comes to mind for me is Grapeseed in Bethesda. Had a great meal there last month. I find this to be one of the highlights of the Bethesda restaurant scene.

I've only been to Grapeseed once, but I really, really enjoyed it and have been meaning to go back. Our server was very helpful in pairing wines with our dishes, and I love that you can order a taste of wine. It's a tiny little space with an open kitchen though, so if it's a quiet atmosphere you are looking for, you probably won't get it there.

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So...anybody know anything about Woo Lae Oak Korean restaurant behind Pentagon Row in Pentagon City? :lol:

This is a lot more expensive than its Anandale counterparts, and while I did not find the service more unfriendly than anywhere else (which doesn't say much), it does tend to get more crowded. I too would stick to Hee Been and Sorak Garden.

I agree about Woo Lae Oak, overpriced and not worth it. Can't agree with you on the Sorak Garden though. I was there for dinner in late December an was very disappointed. The food did not live up to its reputation and we did not receive the same level of service as other people dining that night.

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This is a lot more expensive than its Anandale counterparts, and while I did not find the service more unfriendly than anywhere else (which doesn't say much), it does tend to get more crowded.  I too would stick to Hee Been and Sorak Garden.

Woolae oak is going nowhere...the one in Pentagon city will remain open and they will be opening the one in Tysons corner in couple weeks.

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goldenticket:

It sounds like Woo Lae Oak fits what you're looking for. Being Korean, I would say that Woo Lae Oak is somewhat watered down Korean food. The food tastes good, but its like they toned the flavors and spices a bit (but that's to my palate, maybe not to someone who's never had Korean food before - they still have spicy food! Also depends on the particular dish.) It seems to me that Woo Lae Oak caters to (and are used to) non-Korean customers more than some of the Annandale restaurants, and that works since you're looking for a less ethnic place where your group can feel comfortable. Also, I go to Woo Lae Oak because my significant other is vegetarian, and Woo Lae Oak has a vegetarian section on their menu (unlike most Korean restaurants), so if you have any vegetarians in your group, that would also work for them. I like the restaurant fine, it satisfies my Korean food cravings, and my parents like to go to Woo Lae Oak when they come up to DC. You can see their menu on http://www.woolaeoak.com/ For a group of 20-25, you might check with the restaurant on whether they have a private room with a grill -- I've noticed a separate room when I've gone there, but it looked like a conference room and I really don't remember if the conference room had grills or not.

Edited by cheezepowder
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Hmm. Sunday's Post Magazine will include Walter Nicholls's review of the new Tysons branch of Woo Lae Oak. Korean tapas? Duck breast with roasted figs? And Caesar salad?

Toto, I don't think we're in Annandale anymore.

Woo Lae Oak re-opened their new restaurant in SOHO in New York City with fusion style. (The old one burned down unfortunately)

I think that they are doing exactly the same thing here.

They are leaving the Arlington branch in the traditional style and targeting an American clientele at the Tysons branch.

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We still need to focus on this:Why are Koreans going there?

You don't suppose it has anything to do with atmosphere, setting, the dining experience in addition to the food? Both AnanGol and Woo Lae Oak serve barbecue. Which one would you take a client to if you you wanted to impress them? (not to say that atmosphere is the overwhelming reason, but it's an important part).

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We still need to focus on this:Why are Koreans going there?

This Korean goes there because it's more convenient than going all the way out to Annandale, but that's not to say that I go there often. In my experience, Koreans generally go there because it's their first time in the area, or they are taking someone who is not overly familiar with the Korean dining experience.

Edited by mxyzptlk
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Can't agree with you on the Sorak Garden though.  I was there for dinner in late December an was very disappointed.

My fiance and I went to Sorak Garden two weekends ago and I thought it wasn't particularly great. Although the food was marginally better than Woo Lae Oak, I don't think the trip out there is worth it. Everything in the restaurant was just a bit too westernized for my tastes. The quote of the evening for me was, "What's with the steel drum music they're playing?"

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Hmmm.... Woo Lae Oak and "good value" are not what I usually think of together.

I agree with you partly but you would realize the good value when you order "Uhbok Jaengbahn" (beef hot pot).

Actually I think Woo Lae Oak's cold noodle is the best among Korean restaurant.

What do you think?

It is my humble opinion and I have no intention to argue with you. :lol:

Edited by grover
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I've always had a soft spot for Woo Lae Oak. It was the first Korean restaurant I'd ever been to, and long before I ever started going to Annandale, I was a regular at the Pentagon City Woo Lae Oak.

The Tysons Corner digs are remarkably upscale compared to the elegantly decrepit Pentagon City restaurant, plopped unceremoniously in the middle of a huge apartment parking lot (and now closed, by the way). If I had an important client to take to a Korean restaurant, Woo Lae Oak might be my restaurant of choice.

Unmarinated Bulgogi ($25) is expensive for a plate of razor-thin, frozen ribeye, but it was worth it to see Bobby Flay Jr. (aka Matt) man the grill. The half-dozen panchan were unremarkable, but all six were at least decent; compare this with one I once had at Sorak Garden, which was a mayonaise-based potato salad very similar to what you'd get on a Safeway party platter. Icktenstein.

Kimchi Jjigae ($12) was my go-to dish in Pentagon City, and the one last night was very good, but different: Still served in a cast iron pot in a ferocious boil, this version was smaller, richer, less spicy, had a bit less pork, but was still right up my alley.

And if you don't want to spring for a $12 kimchi jjigae, you'll be pleased to know that it, along with eight other items, is available for $7.95 on Woo Lae Oak's BREAKFAST MENU (!), served seven days a week starting at 7 AM.

I can do Pho at 9:30, but it might take a bit of mental recalibration to be downing a spicy hot pot at 7 in the morning.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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The SO and I were shopping in Tyson's and decided to stop in for a quick bite as she loves the Korean BBQ. The bulgogi was a little small for the price, but the content is what I'm looking for out of red meat when I'm not getting a prime cut of steak or a burger. Cooked to around medium, it is so easy to chew and has a great natural flavor that honestly doesn't need the pink paste or anything that comes with it. The bibimbap was a nice accompaniment, especially after the hot pot crisps up the rice and firms up the egg. Make it extra spicy if you get it.

Unfortunately, this is not a cheap meal, but it will remain my first choice for dinner when I am in the good-restaurant-starved Tyson's Corner area.

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Not sure why people (koreans) go to WLO in tysons. Once was enough for me. 0.5 mile away is song bird which is passable and I would pick song bird over WLO in tyson. Point being there is another option in tysons w/o driving to Annandale.

As for WLO in crystal city, I like others (as Don R mention) have a very soft spot for the place. Back in the 70s it was the only korean places we went to (I don't know that there were other korean places). And every single major milestone in our family upto my marriage was celebrated at WLO. I hope it comes back soon. As I said in other post, their ribs, nang mein, and jungshik were the the best around DC.

Overall, I've gotten the overloaded on korean BBQ places. Most are passable but none are great. They come with these 10 page menus and frankly we can discuss the small differences between Sorak and YaeChon but really is it that much different. I wish there were more adventurous korean places to be had. However most the korean places seem pretty standard, good to fairly good. There is nothing exciting or new (with a few exceptions). There are 4 places I'm very partial to right now...

-A new korean-chinese place where Gingsung Garden use to be. I've been over 5 or 6 times but still don't know the name but is by far the best example of this food in the DC area.

-GoYangJip in Chantilly but only if you order GamJa Tang.

-Seoul Soon Dae

-ToSok Jip

I've not tried HoneyPig (name translated from korean), new place that specializes in BBQ pork, across the street from ToSokJip. Would like to hear other who've been.

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Not sure why people (koreans) go to WLO in tysons. Once was enough for me.

It's a business meal being arranged by a Korean company. I know that one thing that makes it attractive to my client is that they have a more private back room for business discussions, and some sort of VIP status for companies who use them frequently. The Korean breakfasts for breakfast meetings are also attractive to my client.

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-A new korean-chinese place where Gingsung Garden use to be. I've been over 5 or 6 times but still don't know the name but is by far the best example of this food in the DC area.

-GoYangJip in Chantilly but only if you order GamJa Tang.

-Seoul Soon Dae

-ToSok Jip

I've not tried HoneyPig (name translated from korean), new place that specializes in BBQ pork, across the street from ToSokJip. Would like to hear other who've been.

I guess these are my takes:

Honey Pig: Good food, service is either okay or bad (might be because they're so busy right now), and they do the whole fried rice after your stir fry thing. Has uncomfortable stools, crowded seating, lots of drinking, and that whole Korea vibe. Takes a while to eat, seems minimum 2 hours. Also open 24 hours a day.

Seoul Soon Dae: Rumor among Koreans has it that a rat was found in the soon dae soup. It's still pretty tasty to me, so I guess I like the mystery meat.

New Korean Chinese place: Good fried food, regular black bean noodles needed more salt or something.

I've heard that there's a new seul lung tang place in Centreville which is open 24 hours.

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I guess these are my takes:

Honey Pig: Good food, service is either okay or bad (might be because they're so busy right now), and they do the whole fried rice after your stir fry thing. Has uncomfortable stools, crowded seating, lots of drinking, and that whole Korea vibe. Takes a while to eat, seems minimum 2 hours. Also open 24 hours a day.

Seoul Soon Dae: Rumor among Koreans has it that a rat was found in the soon dae soup. It's still pretty tasty to me, so I guess I like the mystery meat.

New Korean Chinese place: Good fried food, regular black bean noodles needed more salt or something.

I've heard that there's a new seul lung tang place in Centreville which is open 24 hours.

I wish I didn't read the stuff about the rat. May turn me off to that place which is too bad. It is my go to place.

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I wish I didn't read the stuff about the rat. May turn me off to that place which is too bad. It is my go to place.

Sorry about that. But I thought it might be good info to know, although it is only hearsay. I do like Gamasot for my soon dae related needs, though. They have a decent soon dae soup as well.

Another BBQ place that would be good to try is Ham Ji Bahk in Centreville. They have good food and good service.

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-A new korean-chinese place where Gingsung Garden use to be. I've been over 5 or 6 times but still don't know the name but is by far the best example of this food in the DC area.

Where is that?

I've not tried HoneyPig (name translated from korean), new place that specializes in BBQ pork, across the street from ToSokJip. Would like to hear other who've been.
Also, where's ToSokJip and/or HoneyPig?
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Where is that?

Also, where's ToSokJip and/or HoneyPig?

To Sok Jib, 7211 Columbia Pike, Annandale, VA,

Like I said honey pig is across the stree from To sok Jib.

As for the korean chinese place it is across the street from K-mart closer to Jukebox diner.

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Not sure why people (koreans) go to WLO in tysons. Once was enough for me. 0.5 mile away is song bird which is passable and I would pick song bird over WLO in tyson. Point being there is another option in tysons w/o driving to Annandale.

Myself, being Korean would pick WLO as my favorite Korean restaurant in DC metropolitan area. Foremost, I don't think that there are any Korean restaurants that serve the quality/grade of beef--which explains why they don't have to guise the quality by overpowering it with the marinade and msg. Second, pyong yang naeng myun is as close to authentic as you can get in the US (close comparsion to the the flagship WLO in Seoul) and third, they do not recycle their banchan. As for non-Kalbee/naemg myun dishes, it is probably best to go to "specialty" restaurants, for example, Vit Goel for sundubu, etc.

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Myself, being Korean would pick WLO as my favorite Korean restaurant in DC metropolitan area. Foremost, I don't think that there are any Korean restaurants that serve the quality/grade of beef--which explains why they don't have to guise the quality by overpowering it with the marinade and msg. Second, pyong yang naeng myun is as close to authentic as you can get in the US (close comparsion to the the flagship WLO in Seoul) and third, they do not recycle their banchan. As for non-Kalbee/naemg myun dishes, it is probably best to go to "specialty" restaurants, for example, Vit Goel for sundubu, etc.

Note, the tysons WLO is different from WLO in Seoul, NY or crystal city.

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Myself, being Korean would pick WLO as my favorite Korean restaurant in DC metropolitan area. Foremost, I don't think that there are any Korean restaurants that serve the quality/grade of beef--which explains why they don't have to guise the quality by overpowering it with the marinade and msg. Second, pyong yang naeng myun is as close to authentic as you can get in the US (close comparsion to the the flagship WLO in Seoul) and third, they do not recycle their banchan. As for non-Kalbee/naemg myun dishes, it is probably best to go to "specialty" restaurants, for example, Vit Goel for sundubu, etc.

I was there a few weeks ago, and one of the staff told me, 'You know why the bulgogi tastes good at Yechon?' Then he cupped his hand to his mouth, and whispered as if he were sharing a state secret... "MSG." ;)

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Myself, being Korean would pick WLO as my favorite Korean restaurant in DC metropolitan area. Foremost, I don't think that there are any Korean restaurants that serve the quality/grade of beef--which explains why they don't have to guise the quality by overpowering it with the marinade and msg. Second, pyong yang naeng myun is as close to authentic as you can get in the US (close comparsion to the the flagship WLO in Seoul) and third, they do not recycle their banchan. As for non-Kalbee/naemg myun dishes, it is probably best to go to "specialty" restaurants, for example, Vit Goel for sundubu, etc.

Ummm... so who does recycle their banchan?

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Myself, being Korean would pick WLO as my favorite Korean restaurant in DC metropolitan area. Foremost, I don't think that there are any Korean restaurants that serve the quality/grade of beef--which explains why they don't have to guise the quality by overpowering it with the marinade and msg. Second, pyong yang naeng myun is as close to authentic as you can get in the US (close comparsion to the the flagship WLO in Seoul) and third, they do not recycle their banchan. As for non-Kalbee/naemg myun dishes, it is probably best to go to "specialty" restaurants, for example, Vit Goel for sundubu, etc.

As it turned out, I need not have worried about what to order at Woo Lae Oak last week---my client did all the ordering and we ate family style. We had kalbi and jap chae. The kalbi was cut into cubes, which was the first time I've had it in cubes rather than slices. The upside was that it was nice and pink inside; the downside was that it didn't have as much of the bouncy texture I enjoy in most versions of this dish. The jap chae may have had the most deeply flavored noodles I've ever had in this dish; they had really soaked up some broth. I also liked the tiny slices of baby bok choy (or similar green, I'm not positive of my green skills), which were not overcooked.

I think there actually is a contender for quality of kalbi beef in the area. Soowon Galbi (14102 Lee Highway, Centreville,) has the most highly marbled pieces of kalbi I've ever seen. They grill on a wire screen and the fat just melts into the meat.

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Good to know about the pyong yang naeng myun at WLO - had food there once many years ago and have not gone back since. This might be worth trying.

I would also give a nod to the bi bim naeng myun (spicy brothless noodles) at Choe's Garden in Fairfax as also pretty good.

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All I can say is blecch! This place has fallen to mediocre food, indifferent service and astronomical prices. That's the triple witching of restaurants.

Tonight I had the Bibimbap, which is usually not tasteless. The sushi was credible but about three or four quality notches below PassionFish. A companion's soup dish of tofu, chicken and shrimp was declared so-so. The service decided that the half hour between when we wanted the check until when we received the check should be highlighted by a disappearing waiter and a decided effort to avoid eye contact.

My children used to enjoy the Pentagon City location about 20 years ago, because cooking at the table was a novelty and it was declared the favorite of the Korean Embassy by a few of the local periodicals. The place in Tysons truly sucks.

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The sushi was credible but about three or four quality notches below PassionFish. A companion's soup dish of tofu, chicken and shrimp was declared so-so.

The place in Tysons truly sucks.

Why are you ordering sushi at Woo Lae Oak? What do you mean by 3 or 4 quality notches below Passionfish on the sushi? Please elaborate. What did your companion order (soup of tofu, chicken and shrimp, is it spicy, does it come with noodles, what is it)?

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Why are you ordering sushi at Woo Lae Oak? What do you mean by 3 or 4 quality notches below Passionfish on the sushi? Please elaborate. What did your companion order (soup of tofu, chicken and shrimp, is it spicy, does it come with noodles, what is it)?

Korean sushi is ubiquitous in our area. Probably more common than Japanese sushi. Woo Lae Oak has its own sushi menu and sushi chefs. Had the dragon roll, one of the tempura rolls and a Tysons roll, but the mouthfeel, texture, flavor and quality were notches below PassionFish. For my money, PassionFish offers some of the best sushi in Fairfax County right now.

Companion had Daegoo Mae Un Tang, or codfish stew with assorted vegetables and tofu. She is Chinese, was looking for something authentically Korean, and came away thoroughly disappointed.

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was looking for something authentically Korean, and came away thoroughly disappointed.
Free advice, albeit somewhat late...you'd have been better off picking any random Korean restaurant in Annandale (well possibly not Hang Gang :D). Once Woo Lae Oak decided to go Korean fusion, they lost all the street cred they had.
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One of the most venerable, DC-area Korean restaurants is no longer - HCA (Hospital Corporation of America) bought the property from "Paik-Song LLC" for $8.15 million. To the best of my knowledge, Kyung-Hee Paik was an owner (who also got tangled up in a Department of Labor lawsuit in 2017). 

Apr 3, 2020 - "Reston Hospital Center Buys Former Korean BBQ Restaurant, To Become Tysons ER" by Michael Neibauer on bizjournals.com

Although Woo Lae Oak issued a statement in this article saying they hope to reopen in the DMV ... with that kind of money in their pockets, I don't see why they would. 

I have very fond memories of this restaurant when it was in the RiverHouse apartments in Pentagon City (it was completely out of place there, and a wonderful escape from the everyday life of Washington, DC). They moved to Tysons in 2006 - the opening few posts in this thread discuss the transition from Pentagon City to Tysons Corner.

Screenshot 2020-07-29 at 18.02.54.png

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