Editors' pick

Gom Ba Woo

$$$$ ($14 and under)
Gom Ba Woo photo
Justin Rude/The Washington Post

Editorial Review

2005 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, October 16, 2005

Before I retire, I hope to be able to declare a "best" among the dozens of Korean restaurants that blanket Northern Virginia. Until then, I'm happy to take my steamed dumplings and barbecued meat at this homey little room sandwiched between a Vietnamese noodle shop and a Japanese seafood buffet in a modest shopping center. English is clearly a foreign language for the hardworking servers here, so it helps to show up knowing what to order. I gravitate toward the enormous bowls of soup: baby clams and crumbled tofu in a spicy dark red stock that brings tears to my eyes; kimchi with fatty bites of pork; or a milk-colored broth of marrow with shaved beef that is ordinary on its own but becomes enormously satisfying with a dash of salt, a sprinkle of chopped scallions and a dollop of chili paste. (Fear not, a waitress will mime instructions for proper seasoning.) The small snacks, or panchan, that accompany every meal negate the need for appetizers, and they are replenished if you run low. On the other hand, don't expect a lot of finesse. Drinks can be forgotten, and you might be seated at a table that hasn't been cleared yet. Still, surrounded by Korean business types, seniors and families, you'll find Gom Ba Woo well worth exploring.