When I introduce friends to Korean cuisine, I always say that it has the lowest learning curve for Americans of any Asian food. Though fermented veggies play a central role, in essence, it is almost as much about meat and potatoes as an evening at mom’s having a pot roast. My favorite example: gamjatang.
There’s no better time than a chilly day to enjoy my cherished pork neck bone stew, but Abbaee Soondae, a Centreville restaurant specializing in Korean sausage, might seem like a surprising choice of destination. Trust me, though, from the unusually mild liver that appears on the plate with the soondae to the flesh that strips from the neck bone in silken ribbons, this is a kitchen staff that knows meat.
Unless you have extra room (or a hungry friend), I advise skipping the soondae in favor of a bubbling pot of stew. Pork overflows from the gamjatang bowl with motley shapes of bone rising like humpback whales from the sea. The server provides a bowl for the stripped bones, but there’s so much pork, they quickly overflow it.
Potato lovers might be disappointed; only one large spud lay at the bottom of my bowl. But for those in it for the meat (and a bit of Napa cabbage), the mildly spicy stew is a satisfaction incarnate. Next time a craving for supple flesh works its way into your animal brain, you know where to go. // 14701 Lee Hwy. #106, Centreville
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