Cheap Eats 2008: Da Rae Won

Why go: Fresh, hand-rolled noodles—the specialty of this novel Korean-style Chinese restaurant, where the dinnertime serenity is occasionally punctuated by what sounds like a medicine ball being slammed against the kitchen wall. Look through the showcase window to see a cook smacking a long skein of dough against a powdered wooden counter, picking it up, pulling it like taffy, flinging it behind his head, twirling it, then starting the process over again—a laborious, time-honored method of separating the dough into long strands of noodles.

What to get: The fried dumplings called mandoo; gan jajang, scissor-cut noodles that come with a small dish of fresh black-bean sauce to mix with them; thick-brothed samsun woolmyun brimming with baby bok choy, drizzled egg, and shrimp; a party-platter-like dish called yangjangpi, an array of cold and hot vegetables in a wonderful, head-clearing mustard sauce.

Best for: Anyone willing to venture out for a Korean meal that doesn’t include barbecue, sushi, or Korean-style fried chicken.

Insider tip: Ignore the pan chan side dishes, which are mostly disappointing. The menu doesn’t distinguish between starters and main courses, and prices can be deceptive. For instance, yangjangpi—at $20.95—would appear to be an entrée, but it’s really meant for sharing; it can feed five or six as a starter, four as a main course.

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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.