Correction to This Article
An earlier version of this article misspelled the last name of the owners of the Wow Deli in Gaithersburg. It is Yim, not Kim.
Good to Go

Wow Deli in Gaithersburg

Wow's cheesesteaks start with rib-eyes that are sliced and chopped in-house.
Wow's cheesesteaks start with rib-eyes that are sliced and chopped in-house. (By Leah L. Jones For The Washington Post)
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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Breakfast on the run can be edifying, as long as the short-order cook is organized and willing to crack a few eggs. At this bright 40-seat cafe, just off Shady Grove Road near Interstate 270, David Kim's crew is on task on weekdays, at a pace of 15 dozen per shift.

Kim and his wife, June, make a daily 56-mile round trip to run the place they've owned for eight years. Their commitment to serving good food fast is evident in the rolls baked in-house, whole turkeys roasted each day and efforts to cook with less fat. And it is appreciated by a loyal clientele of nearby office workers and a steady parade of working guys who drive up in company vans.

They line up for morning favorites such as the hearty steak, egg and cheese sub ($5.29), which a new patron was overheard describing enthusiastically as "an oversize omelet on bread," and for the nicely browned sausage, egg and cheese quesadilla ($3.59; turkey sausage available). Omelets ($3.75 to $4.25) come with chunky home fries.

Breakfast items are served until 11 a.m., but generous hot and cold sandwiches and wraps with lunch fillings can be ordered as early as 6 a.m., too. Kim will not use processed deli meats, a choice that causes some customers distress when he occasionally runs out of his turkey. It's a house specialty that appears in the Wow Club, with Virginia baked ham, cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise ($6.29), and in the popular turkey avocado on soft oval pita bread ($6.49).

Cheesesteaks (six-inch, $5.29; eight-inch, $6.29) begin with rib-eyes that are thinly sliced by hand; the meat stays chewy-tender, paired with thick bits of sauteed onion and melted provolone.

Vegetarians go for the California Dream, with avocado, lettuce, tomato, shredded carrot, green bell pepper, red onion, Muenster cheese and hummus ($4.99), and the simple spinach and feta melt ($5.49), both on the same type of pita. Selections can be built with cheeses such as havarti, Gouda, feta and brie for $1 to $1.50 extra. Instead of dispatching vegetables in oil on the flattop, Kim's cooks give each order a dose of water from a squirt bottle, which effectively steams the ingredients instead. "Less fat is good," he says.

For side orders, bypass the rack of chips and order the totally greaseless french fries (small, $1.89; large, $2.39), which come lightly dusted with Old Bay seasoning.

About that name: Was it wishful thinking on the Kims' part? "I am proud of my food. But we figured it was just easy to remember," David Kim says.

-- Bonnie S. Benwick

Wow Deli, 9029 Gaither Rd., Gaithersburg, 301-990-3253. Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Breakfast served until 11 a.m.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company