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Gom Ba Woo: The Korean gem in Annandale



2 dollars

Gom Ba Woo

7133 Columbia Pike
Annandale, VA
Tel: 703.642.1577

Today for lunch I felt a little adventurous. I decided to venture out and try something new. Since I was on my lunch break; however, I wasn’t willing to travel more than a few miles. I needed to find something close by. I participate in a lot of local dining chats, including Todd Kliman’s chat on Tuesdays and Tom Sietsema’s chat on Wednesdays. I recalled that Todd publishes a weekly list of where he would spend his own money. A professional food critic who is paid to eat would choose to eat at these particular places to eat on his own dime; to me, that’s huge. A few places on his list are near my work. Gom Ba Woo was the closest. I did some quick research and discovered that Gom Ba Woo made Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurant List in 2007 and continues to make Washingtonian’s Cheap Eats list every year. That was enough for me. I went.
If I tried Korean food before, it was so long ago that I have no recollection, so this was a new experience for me. It is nestled in a small strip mall, and even with the GPS, I had a really hard time finding it. front-exterior3I think that the address should be John Davis instead of Columbia Pike. It would have made it a lot easier to find it. Luckily, from the road I was able to see the blue awning with the name Gom Ba Woo. (see photo on right). I wanted to ask the waitress while I was there what the name meant, but the she didn’t come around very much. I later found out online that the name in Korean means “bear”.
All of the patrons who were sitting eating were Korean and were speaking in Korean to each other and to the waitress. 03250913041Even the television in the background was on a Korean channel. This of course is part of Gom Ba Woo’s charm. The restaurant itself is quite small and seats less than 40 people. I liked the wall in front of the kitchen that was adorned with small plants and a vase or two; it was quaint. (see photo on left).
The menu had only a few appetizers, including Jin Mandoo (steamed dumplings) and fried dumplings. I heard that the steamed dumplings were very good and I planned to order them. When the waitress came to take my order I told her that I wanted the steamed dumplings and I asked about a few dishes. She suggested that I try the Galbitang or the Beef rib soup. It was offered spicy or regular. I asked that it not be very spicy. I found out that this is one of most commonly found soups in Korean cuisine and served at many traditional Korean ceremonies and celebrations.

Within minutes of ordering, the waitress brought several small dishes, commonly called Panchan, consisting of sesame root vegetables, pickled spicy cucumbers, sprouts, daikon, and kimchee. (see photo on right) panchan-1I’m somewhat familiar with kimchee, a dish of fresh, crunchy cabbage leaves pungently spiced, and lightly pickled. Theirs is crisp and coated with a bright reddish chili sauce.

dumplingsThe steamed dumplings were delicious and the portion was large enough for at least three people. (see photo on left) I dipped each dumpling in the soy and green onions sauce that was brought out with the panchan.

The Galbitang was delicious with tender meat, cut in cubes, some still hanging off the bone. It was so tender that I could cut it with the spoon. The soup had daikon, long green onions, drizzled egg, and chewy rice noodles. (see photo on bottom right). I added a little bit of white rice to the broth with a few bites. I ate as much as I could before I felt like I was full. The waitress graciously wrapped up the remainder of my lunch. soup1

Overall, I think that it was pretty good. I’ll give it two forks. Since it was my first visit and my first time trying Korean food, I lack expertise to judge the quality of the food. I have no way of knowing if it’s kids-friendly. There was no kids menu. I didn’t see any high chairs. In terms of price, for one appetizer, one main course, and a soda my bill was $21.95. With tip my lunch cost me $26.00. I’d say that isn’t as “cheap” as Cheap Eats claims. I give it two dollar signs.

I would definitely be interested in going back. I would like to try their BBQ short ribs that I hear are quite good and had something to do with the fact of why they made it onto the 100’s Very Best List.


One Response

  1. […] Gom Ba Woo, authentic Korean food in Annandale […]

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