November 5, 2011

Wajoe

This isn't the first time, and it certainly won't be the last, but after reading a recent review of a new restaurant (Grand Opening signs still up!) nearby, we were inspired to check it out for ourselves.  After some post-work shopping on Chestnut Street, it made sense for us to head right to Wajoe, a casual Korean BBQ restaurant that fits in well with the sushi and Thai restaurants in the area.


A has a recent obsession with anything spicy, so she was a big proponent of making a visit.  After scouring the Yelp reviews, she made the executive decision to opt out of trying the true Korean BBQ dishes- even though each table is equipped with a fancy built-in grill complete with individual venting systems.  Clean lines and warm colors complement the industrial look of the self-cooking equipment.


The menu is nicely divided into categories- apps, BBQ, hot pots (soups), noodle dishes, and rice dishes- and includes basic English descriptions and pictures.  After we placed our order, we received the obligatory Korean banchan including the standard kimchi.  The fermented, pickly cabbage maintained a good crunch and a mild spiciness- good by us.  The rest of the banchan was served in individualized plates and were a little on the odd side- a rather plain coleslaw, cold steamed broccoli, and soft, slightly sweet potatoes.  They just seemed so.. American.  And plain.

Good kimchi.

Weird other stuff.

Although many of the appetizers sounded good, we decided to try something new- the ddukbokgi ($8.99), a mix of "rice cakes" and vegetables in a spicy chili sauce.  Rice flour and water are mixed together and shaped into thick, chewy tubes, and served with thinly sliced carrots, onions, and cabbage that are stir-fried with a sweet and spicy red sauce with a hint of garlic.  Simple and delicious.



Since I branched out a little for the appetizer, I felt justified in ordering my favorite Korean dish- the Dolsot Bibim Bap ($10.99 for the beef version).  Served in a piping hot bowl, the dish includes white rice, spinach, carrots, cucumber, bean sprouts, a few shavings of rib-eye, a sprinkle of dried seaweed, and a fried egg (the piece de resistance).  Obviously a solid mix of ingredients, but the key is breaking open the egg yolk, adding a good bit of chili sauce, scraping up the crispy rice from the bottom of the pot, and mixing everything together.  I probably should have let the rice crisp up a bit more, but the gooey mess was everything I remembered it to be.  I'm big on having a good mix of flavors and textures, so this dish clearly suits me well. I only wish the chili sauce had been slightly spicier.

Before the enthusiastic stirring process.

A investigated the "hot pot" section of the menu, extending our appreciation of kimchi and choosing the Kimchi Chigae ($9.99).  This dish utilizes an "older" kimchi, with an equivocally strong fermented flavor, as well as bits of pork, and thick pieces of tofu simmered in an anchovy stock seasoned with red pepper paste.  Served with a bowl of white rice, the soup had a depth of flavor in the broth reflecting the interesting mix of ingredients.  A was really going for spice though, and it didn't quite live up to her interest in "mind-blowing" heat.  The bits of pork were a little on the measly side as well- don't expect a lot of meat in these dishes (same for the bibim bap)- but we were fine with that considering the very affordable prices.


Wajoe was a little slow on the service aspect- with only one waiter serving the 7 or 8 groups as well as accommodating customers coming in  for take-out.  We weren't in a hurry, but during our dinner we saw many necks craning and hands waving throughout the room.  Overall, the prices were right and there was no wait for a table, making it a good option for a low-key Friday night dinner.  However, we prefer Pastoral (now closed, thanks Jamie) Miga on 15th Street for slightly more expensive, but significantly more authentic Korean food.

Wajoe
2034 Chestnut Street



1 comment:

  1. Kimchee looks good! I wish they had some more under $10 options. Pastoral has been closed for a while. But Giwa is still around. And there is a new place that will be opening from the Giwa people on Walnut street in a few months.

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