Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: Yechon in Annandale, Virginia

Chicken soup for the soul? More like Korean food for the soul; hot, spicy, casual, and homey - it's the perfect rain food, sick food, homesick food, comfort food, and drunk food. On this day, it happened to be rain food.

Open 24-hours and serving a wide array of food, from sushi, grilled fish, Korean BBQ, soups, stews, and rice/noodle dishes, Yechon will easily satisfy a large crowd or mentally overwhelm an indecisive person (me).

Step inside the brightly lit restaurant and you'll know instantly that it's a good choice: the place is absolutely packed, even late at night. It's crowded, loud, bright, and fast. Check in with the host in the front, pick up a pager, and be ready to chill out with some friends for half an hour before someone clears out a table and you're sitting down before the seat even gets cold.

As with most Korean restaurants, you meet your banchan and barley tea before your server. The banchan is simple, but well prepared. On this occasion, I got some kimchi, potato, two types of bean spouts, potato salad, radish, cucumbers, and seaweed. I do wish that we could also get the mini fried fish that all the Korean restaurants back in Georgia serves. Nonetheless, the banchan were delicious and free refills were offered (though we never needed them - more on this later).

We ended up ordering two dishes to share: beef soondubu (soft tofu soup) and agujjim (steamed monkfish with bean sprouts in a spicy sauce).

The soondubu came out as it should: hot, bubbly, and terrifyingly red. It had a good amount of meaty beef chunks in it and relatively few veggies. You know that you're getting your money's worth here! It's well flavored, just slightly spicy (or may very, depending on your spice tolerance), and totally hit the spot on a rainy day. My one gripe is that we were never given an egg to crack into the soup. Come on Yechon, you can do better than that!

I've only had agujjim at one other restaurant before, but I have made it plenty of times on my own. The one at Yechon is pretty dang legit: chunks of meaty monkfish, plenty of sea squirts, and of course piles and piles of bean sprouts. Monkfish is called "poor man's lobster" and while the texture is mildly reminiscent of lobster, it really is its own thing. It's slightly chewy, springy, and has the faintest sweetness - definitely something you need to try out on your own. It's a big serving and we ended up taking more than half the dish home as leftovers.

I can definitely see why Yechon is so popular; the servings are large, the food is fresh, well done, and generally comforting. While it doesn't particularly "wow" me, it is a good taste of home and I want to try out more of the menu, especially some of the dinner sets. So will I be back? Well, it is a bit of a trek from DC, but hey, why not? I really want to try out some of their sashimi/hwe dishes.

Yechon on Urbanspoon