Cheap Eats 2007: Gom Ba Woo
Comments () | Published July 13, 2007
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Gom Ba Woo
Address: 7133 Columbia Pike, Annandale, VA 22003
Phone: 703-642-1577
Neighborhood: Annandale
Cuisines: Korean
Opening Hours: Open daily 7 AM to 11 PM.
Nearby Metro Stops: Van Dorn St., Dunn Loring-Merrifield
Price Range: Moderate
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: Intimate
Reservations: Not Needed
Best Dishes Steamed dumplings (mandu); seafood pancake; oxtail with green onions; pork-belly barbecue; soondubu; sul leung tang; grilled short ribs; pork with red-pepper sauce.
Price Details: Appetizers $8.95 to $12.95; entrées $7.95 to $27.95.

The name of this Little Korea gem means “bear”; a smiling ursine image is stenciled on the main window. The restaurant is just as big-hearted, a cheery, plant-lined bandbox with the clatter of dishes coming from the open kitchen, a TV tuned to Korean cooking shows, and the casual feel of a night out at a friend’s apartment. The staff, not merely eager, seems truly to want to make you happy.

The food is a mood enhancer, too. The seafood pancake—fluffy, veined with scallions, and studded with tender baby octopus—is as good as we’ve found. So are the complex chili-stoked tofu-and-oyster soup called soon doo boo and the house-made kimchee, those bands of fiery, pickled crunch. Barbecue is done in the kitchen, which cuts down on tableside theatrics, but the luscious, crisp-edged pork belly is compensation enough.

There’s also excellent bul goki and big, comforting bowls of seul-lung-tang, a long-cooked shinbone soup laced with egg, scallion, and chewy rice cakes.

The ingredients are always fresh, the portions generous, the flavors deep and satisfying. This bear is meant for cuddling.

Open daily for dinner, weekdays for lunch.

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Posted at 09:22 AM/ET, 07/13/2007 RSS | Print | Permalink | Restaurant Reviews