Woomi Garden

Asian, Japanese, Korean, Sushi
$$$$ ($15-$24)
'

Editorial Review

The conventional wisdom is that just as you have to go to Adams Morgan for good Ethiopian food or Arlington for Vietnamese, you have to drive out to Annandale for the best in Korean cuisine. Well, yes and no. There are plenty of great restaurants out there, some so relentlessly authentic that they don't even hang an English-language sign; but with the increasingly large Korean population in mid-Montgomery County, a second cluster of good (and sometimes almost as impenetrably authentic) Korean restaurants has developed there as well, centered roughly on the Twinbrook neighborhood.
Several of them, most notably the new Woomi, are formally decorated and offer Japanese dishes -- such as sushi, teriyaki and tempura -- in addition to their Korean menus. But be forewarned: Korean sashimi is often thicker cut and thus far more filling than its Japanese counterpart, so you'll probably want to order less to start. Woomi has a lavish indoor garden and fountain as well as some of the most informative waitresses in the area. They are epecially helpful for first-timers who aren't sure how to mix or consume what.
Classic dishes include the dumplings called mandoo, served either as appetizers or in noodle soups; haemul pajun, a pizza-size pancake of mung or lentil flour, seafood and scallions; nokdoo, a pancake made of bean flour and filled with vegetable or pork; and yook hwe bibimbap, marinated shredded raw beef with vegetables over rice.
If you like spicy food, be sure to look for gae jang or kajaeng, chili-pickled, hard-shell crabs that would do a Bayster proud. Try the artichoke-leaf method, biting and working the meat out of the shell a little at a time.
-- Eve Zibart