When it came to Korean barbecue, I thought I knew it all. But it turns out, a childhood obsessed with bulgogi, immersive trips to L.A.’s Koreatown, and regular meals at my favorites in my previous stomping grounds of Houston didn’t prepare me for the meaty scene I would get to be an everyday part of across Northern Virginia. I would shrug at many of my old favorites now when compared with the spot-on flavors of Gogiville or the carefully sourced and prepared proteins at Honest Grill. But there’s a part of me that still craves all the lower-quality meat I can eat for one relatively low price. When only packing my colon with multiple orders of thinly sliced brisket will do, I head to Firepan Korean BBQ in Falls Church’s Eden Center.
Why? Maybe it’s the K-Pop. I love watching music videos projected on the walls and learning what’s hip at the moment on the youthful scene. But obviously, there has to be much more. That brisket, for one, may not be cut from a special breed or prepared in any unique way, but as its tallow renders on the grill, letting loose its rich aroma, there are few things I would rather be eating. The dipping sauces, which include a spicy orange-flavored option, are seriously crave-worthy and different from the mostly soy- or gochujang-based options to which I’m more accustomed.
The marinades are abundant with garlic that imprints itself on my mouth for the rest of the day. (And yes, I think that’s a good thing.) My favorites are the spicy bulgogi, spicy pork belly, and Firepan Steak, a collection of slabs of marinated top blade. For a price of $29.99 per person, I also overdose on steamed eggs and rice. The pickled radishes, my preferred banchan, don’t stand a chance.
No, it’s not the sophisticate’s choice for Korean barbecue. But when I’m looking to be served by a friendly team eager to abet some of my most destructive habits, Firepan is my choice.
6793 – C Wilson Blvd., Falls Church
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