According to the 2010 U.S. Census (the most recent results at press time), about 4% of Fairfax County’s population identified as ethnically Korean, making it the third-largest Korean population in the United States. That number is doubtless even larger in 2021, and diners should be grateful for it. Thanks to a vibrant Korean population in our region, flavors from the homeland make it into countless American comfort food dishes. Here’s a sampling.
13955 Metrotech Drive, Chantilly
Ribeye Bulgogi Supreme Sub
This fried chicken stand inside Lotte Plaza has a take on the cheesesteak that features sweet and garlicky marinated rib-eye. It’s packed into a sturdy roll with sweet, tender yellow peppers and onions; fresh lettuce; and melted American cheese to hold it all together.
Annandale and Fairfax
There’s also fried chicken here, but the pizza ovens are where the fusion happens. Puffy-boned pies are thickly blanketed in mozzarella, as well as marinated beef, peppers, onions and a shower of scallions. Skipping the meat? There’s a sweet potato pizza, too.
4520 Daly Drive, Suite 102, Chantilly
Spicy pork belly rice plate
Former Mokomandy sous-chef Nick Giorno uses the Korean cooking skills he learned at the now-shuttered Sterling restaurant to inform his covetable smoked meats. His barbecue version of spicy pork belly bears more than a passing resemblance to dwaeji bulgogi. Diners can start the meal with kimchi pimiento cheese.
6013 Leesburg Pike, Bailey’s Crossroads
Don’t be put off by the betting machines that line one side of this taqueria. This is the home of a meaty taco filled with galbi, or Korean barbecue short ribs. Fusion tacos also include braised pork belly, spicy pork and bulgogi, all filled to bursting with purple cabbage and fresh chiles.
13830 Lee Highway, Centreville
This Korean-owned chain has a spot inside Siroo & Juk Story. They’ve perfected the fusion corn dog, which takes many forms, such as versions that replace hot dogs with stretchy cheese. Iterations include the Spicy Dog, Crispy Rice Dog and Injeolmi Dog, but the crispy cubes of potato make this one the star.
This story originally ran in our April issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.