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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

Daily 10:30am–10:30pm

Features Veg-friendly
Bar Beer
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Not accepted

Annandale, VA
7211 Columbia Pike
Annandale, VA
(703) 333-2861
To Sok Jip
Huge portions of nourishing, authentic Korean food are totally worth the wait

The law of supply and demand tells us that if 1) a place is making terrific, authentic Korean food in an area that has very little of that, and 2) there are only about 10 tables, then it follows that there will be a wait time. Bring a book or a friend to talk to and get right with your patience—you won’t be sorry. Squeezed between Cha Hair Salon and Fairfax Auto Parts is this tiny, sparse and, yes, very crowded little gem. (Claustrophobes and basketball players: be forewarned, the ceiling is low clearance.) A couple of efficient waitresses scuttle between tables and help keep turnover high enough so as not to lose any waiting customers who need to get back to the office. This is not the time for you to get out your list of dietary restrictions, and you’d better know what you want when you sit down, but that won’t be hard, as anything you choose will be delicious.

The menu is pretty typical. And by “menu” we mean a collection of scribbled specials and dishes on chalkboards and paper signs. In Korean. May we make some suggestions?

You’re going to fill up fast, between the generous portions and the swarm of free banchan dishes that accompany them. Kimchi (in all of its forms) is excellent here, as are ge jaang (addictive marinated, raw crab) and spicy winter melon. Koreans, along with Mexicans, have the market cornered on nourishing food. It’s all the tripe and bones, you know. Starving? Steamed pork hocks, tosok jokbal, are a rich indulgence that have that smoky-sweet pork flavor with beads of savory fat. Hungover? Try hae jang guk (it even translates roughly to “hangover soup”), whose spicy broth will help you sweat out the booze while getting nutrient-rich marrow molecules in you. In a mood for seafood? The seafood pancake is right on, as are the fish specials. You can trust it—the wait time suggests it’s made to order.

The common wisdom goes, you know an ethnic joint is a good bet if lots of natives eat there. Well, what does it say when we’ve noticed more white people here than you’d expect, given the neighborhood? History says “manifest destiny,” but here’s hoping To Sok Jip doesn’t change or expand much. There’s just the right amount of mojo going on.

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