Annandale is a suburb of Washington, D.C. in Fairfax County, Northern Virginia. It serves as the unofficial "Koreatown" of the Washington metropolitan area, with numerous ethnic Korean-owned restaurants, bakeries, and other businesses in the area. Annandale's residents, however, represent a diversity of ethnic backgrounds.
The main reasons to visit Annandale are its Asian dining options, almost all of which are located either on Little River Turnpike, or just a few blocks off of it near its intersection with Annandale Road and Columbia Pike.
From either I-495 (the Beltway) or I-395, take the Little River Tpk (VA 236) exit.
- Da-in Cafe and Karaoke, 7220-B Columbia Pike, ☏ . Da-in offers private Korean-style karaoke rooms, known as noraebang, for you and your friends to eat, drink, and belt out Korean pop songs (and a few hundred in English, too) to your heart's content.
Some of the best Korean food in the Washington area is to be found in Annandale, and some of the latest. Several restaurants are open around the clock, ready to feed your Korean BBQ fix.
Chinese is the other reason people make the long trek, with A&J being particularly popular even with D.C. residents for dim sum.
- A&J Restaurant, 4316 Markham St, ☏ . M-F 11:30AM-9PM, Sa Su 10AM-9PM. You have to travel far and long to find good dim sum in the D.C. area, but you've found it once you get to this Chinese restaurant. It's small, a little dingy, but it has precisely the right dim sum to cure a good bout of expat homesickness, or simply to delight the tastebuds of a serious foodie. $4-10/meal.
- Honey Pig, 7220 Columbia Pike, ☏ . 24 hours daily except Monday 2AM–10AM. Is there better Korean BBQ in the Western Hemisphere? That's debatable, but what not is that this places knows how to prepare meat. Sirloin beef, sauce duck, pork belly of several varieties—the list goes on. Meat is the showstopper here, but if that's not your thing, you'll find excellent vegetarian entrees (although be forewarned that most are fiery!) It's not a relaxing place late at night, though, with blaring Korean hip hop, and plenty of young Korean men filling the big room with tobacco smoke. $10-30.
- Oegadgib (pronounced way-gahd-jeep), 7331 Little River Trpk, ☏ . M-Sa 10:30AM-2AM, Su 11AM-midnight. It's hard to go wrong here, if you can find the place. It's poorly signed and hidden behind some Salvadoran carnicería in what looks like a bland office building across a parking lot. But the food is incredible, and as a plus, it's one of the most comfy spaces in Annandale. The cheapest option is to bring friends and do the all-you-can-eat barbecue, where enormous quantities of garlicy bulgogi and kalbi are grilled on your table, for you to then dip in hot sauce, and generally pig out. The a-la-carte menu is more expensive, but even more rewarding. A local favorite (among the Koreans, anyway) is the spicy skate stew. $17-35; all-you-can-eat barbecue: $17/person.
- Yechon, 4121 Hummer Rd, ☏ . 24 hours daily. Yechon is the Annandale restaurant. It's big and always bustling. Other restaurants here will beat it on specific dishes, but this is the gold standard, where just about everything is good, and where non-Koreans will find the service particularly accessible. In addition to its great a-la-carte and all-you-can-eat menus, Yechon rises above the pack with its banchan—some 10–15 small, free (but as in all Annandale restaurants, still all-you-can-eat) appetizers with your meal. $10-30.
Korean Fried ChickenEdit
And then there's KFC! No, not that KFC—we're talking the original, Korean Fried Chicken! Both of the below are well-known chains from Korea. KFC is deep fried, somewhat crispier/caramelized than American fried chicken, and usually coated with sticky honey before frying. Because of the honey, it is eaten with chopsticks, which might be tough for inexperienced baeg-in.
- BonChon Chicken, 6653 Little River Tpke, ☏ . M 4PM-midnight, Tu-Sa noon-midnight, Su noon-10PM. Big, busy, noisy, modern, and popular with the teen and early 20s crowd. The gold standard in proper KFC. Full bar. $9-20.
- 1 Cheogajip Chicken, 4300 Evergreen Ln, ☏ . 11AM-11PM daily. Possibly the hardest restaurant to find in Northern Virginia (but worth the hunt), is Cheogajip (meaning "love letter" in Korean). It's off a residential side street in a parking lot, inside the bottom of a tiny Korean Baptist university, which is disguised as a small office building, surrounded by condominiums! Make sure you have good directions. It's a tiny, tiny hole-in-the wall, but the service is really lovely, and the chicken is spectacular—especially the hot & spicy. The other half of the menu is pizza, but, ah, unless you're some boring little kid, you should be ordering chicken. No alcohol. $7-12.
- The Cue Club, 7014 Columbia Pike, ☏ . A lively mix of billiards and darts hall, neighborhood sports bar, karaoke house, and Korean restaurant. A place to get a good beer cheap to go with your nachos— or your bulgogi sub.
There are no hotels within Annandale proper. If you are staying in the area, stay just north by Beltway Exit 50 (US-50, Arlington Blvd), where you'll find Marriott, Residence Inn, and Homestead Studio Suites.