Annandale, VA boasts one of the US’s largest Korean-American communities and choosing where to eat there can be overwhelming, given the large number of choices. Luckily, I have a work colleague who is very well-acquainted with Korean food and who recommended To Sok Jip, a tiny hole in the wall spot that serves up authentic and delicious Korean food to a mostly Korean clientele. My friend recommended that I order the Budae Jjigae, or army stew, a mix of ham, sausage, baked beans, and kimchi that arose just after the Korean War as a consequence of Korea’s being flooded with army surplus food.
Alas, I was alone and Budae Jjigae is a massive amount of food (I saw it on other tables and while it looked fantastic, I can’t eat that much). So I ordered the bulgogi, the classic korean BBQ beef dish. It was on-point and it, along with the rather spare decor, reminded me of a delicious bulgogi meal I had somewhere in the countryside between Seoul and the demilitarized zone on a visit there with my father and grandfather, a Korean War veteran. While Annandale is a trek for those living in the District proper, a place like To Sok Jip offers an authentic experience that one simply cannot find in DC. And it is inexpensive and friendly, to boot.
To Sok Jip is located at 7211 Columbia Pike, Annandale, VA.
Five Guys may be a large burger chain now with over 1,000 locations, but they got their start right here in Arlington. Five Guys continues to have a heavy presence throughout the DMV area with several locations in the District, in addition to locations at Reagan National Airport and in Arlington, Hyattsville, Kensington, Bethesda, Fairfax, Potomac, Alexandria, McLean, and Annandale. While the “better burger” market has become saturated in recent years by new offerings like Smashburger and Shake Shack, Five Guys was the first of the “better burger” chains I tried and I still think it’s one of the best. For starters, the burger (despite the fact that you can’t order it less than well-done) is always flavorful and juicy (some people might say it’s greasy, but I find it delicious). And there’s a large selection of toppings- I always get a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, mushrooms, pickles and ketchup. The fries are tasty (if you like them with the skins left on) and I love that they serve free peanuts while you wait. The wait is usually pretty brief (rarely as long as at Shake Shack. Be aware that Five Guys doesn’t do much other than burgers and fries; they do have hot dogs (I’ve never tried one) but you can’t get a veggie burger. They’ll make you a sandwich of veggies on a bun, but that doesn’t sound too appetizing. Since I love burgers and I’m not a vegetarian, I don’t really care. Some Five Guys serve breakfast, which is basic, but tasty. You can get a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich or add a burger patty to that for an extra charge (and extra calories). They do have coffee but it’s pretty meh (what did you expect?).