Gom Ba Woo

A Korean place with one of the best kimchees in town.

From June 2006 Cheap Eats

Kimchee is, at best, an acquired pleasure for most Westerners. A staple of the Korean diet, the cold pickled-cabbage dish is for many too fiery, too tart, and often too limp. The version at this cozy, blond-wooded lair in a shopping center in Annandale's Little Korea has the power to alter perceptions. The cabbage is firm, the pickling is light and fresh, and the thick red-chili paste it's bathed in has an insinuating heat that encourages you to keep eating.

Most of the cooking follows in this appealing way, from the panchan (the mouth-awakening snacks that inaugurate every meal) to such meals in a bowl as a pot of oxtail with green onions, whose gelatinous textures may take some getting used to but which is soothing pleasure.

Lots of Korean restaurants offer barbecue; this one goes beyond the novelty of DIY tabletop cooking. The grilling is done in the kitchen, and the meats that emerge, from the luscious short ribs to the sumptuous pork belly (the menu lists it as pork with red-pepper sauce), are succulent and full of wonderful char. Rolled up in a lettuce leaf with a spoonful of steamed rice and a dollop of house-made bean paste, they reach a new level of interest. The staff–as solicitous and warm as can be despite the language barrier–will help you through these and other intricacies.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.