DaMoim

Korean
$$$$ ($15-$24)
DaMoim photo
James M. Thresher/For The Post
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Editorial Review

Tom Sietsema wrote about DaMoim for a July 2010 First Bite column

If you want to stand out in a crowd, you gotta have a gimmick. In the case of the sleek upstart DaMoim in Annandale, that means offering diners the chance to eat kimchi quesadillas under the gaze of the Rat Pack while listening to Baltimora sing "Tarzan Boy."

"There are so many Korean restaurants around here," says Jae Lee, who runs the 39-seat fusion restaurant with his wife, Kristine. "We didn't want to compete with them in the traditional food sense."

No worries there. While DaMoim offers Korean traditions such as mandu (crisp dumplings, decent) and bibimbap (rice topped with vegetables, meat and a fried egg), it tries to appeal to a broader audience with beef sliders bolstered with caramelized kimchi and tacos filled with kalbi, or marinated beef short ribs. There's even "a classic tapa," as the menu points out: shrimp sauteed with garlic.

Curls of grilled "spicy" pork with steamed broccoli and red pepper strips is tame eating, more sweet than hot. The vegetarian bibimbap we order makes a sizzling, sputtering entrance, but the mound of hot rice arranged with julienned carrot, enoki mushrooms, shredded greens and a confetti of nori doesn't add up to much flavor, despite all those accents. On the other hand, a teepee of fried chicken drumsticks is juicy, crisp and enhanced with a sweet chili glaze. ("No heat lamps," crows the menu.) As for those beefy, soy-sauced tacos, they're served three to a plate with shredded cheddar cheese, chopped tomatoes and lettuce. The combination of the cheese, the sweet and the meat is strangely appealing.

Opened in April, DaMoim fuses two Korean words that together convey the idea that "everybody gathers here," says Lee. "Men, women, black, white we welcome everybody." Suddenly, the photographs of Marilyn Monroe and Martin Luther King Jr. on the wall make more sense.

(July 21, 2010)