Kimchi Jigae at New Won Jo

When the craving for something salty, garlicky, spicy and filling hits, there’s only one thing to get:
Kimchi Jigae. 
This Korean stew is filled with that most cherished of pickles, kimchi, and comes with a variety of other ingredients. It is warming, filling, and spicy enough to make me cry. Though I’m sure the best place to eat this is your Korean mama’s house, I don’t have a Korean mama. So, I have decided to take matters into my own hands and simply try every Korean restaurant in K-Town to discover the best version. 
Next up: New Won-Jo

This Korean restaurant, open 24 hours, was hopping at noon on a weekend, and there was a 45 minute wait to sit upstairs where we could barbecue at our own table. Luckily, I was all about the stew, so I got seated immediately.

Banchan

Not as good as Don’s Bogam – more muted flavors, and less interesting. The potato salad was not as creamy, the kimchi was not as spicy, and I was not a fan of the dried eel – too smoky and not sweet enough. The exception to this was the stewed chicken and potatoes on the far right. It was sweet-savory-salty that tasted similar to pork kakuni. The chicken was tender but not mushy, and the potatoes were perfectly steamed, soft and creamy. Really, it was so addictive that I could have eaten this over steamed rice and called it a day.

Kimchi Jigae.

This was so, so good. Spicy, garlicky broth with slightly wilted kimchi, slivers of pork, soft tofu, chewy rice cakes, and slippery glass noodles. It came to the table bubbling hot, so intense that I burned my tongue at first sip. So worth it. Not sour or sweet at all, not really even tangy. Just incredibly deep, with the meatiness of the pork and the faint oceanic taste of the anchovies in the kimchi enriching the broth and making it substantial and round. It made my nose run and my brow sweat, but try as I might, I just couldn’t stop eating it. It was restorative, warming, exciting, and complex. There is nothing familiar about it and that is the best part – chicken soup for the Korean soul? What the hell was I doing with matzo balls all these years? 
Won Jo is a reliable spot for Kimchi Jigae. Be prepared to be rushed in and out, but the price is right, the servings are plentiful, and between that chicken banchan and the Kimchi Jigae, you will leave full and happy. The only question is: is this the best Kimchi Jigae in town? I will just have to continue my search and report back. 
It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.
New Wonjo Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Comments

  1. sophia says:

    Yes, very tough indeed. The best kimchi jiggae will be in Northern Virgina, at my mommy's house. ;-)

    So glad you gave it a try!

  2. kim says:

    New Wonjo just sponored a free lunch at my office courtesy of Taste of Korea. The food was decent. Most of my co-workers digged the seafood pancakes, but I personally liked the japchae. The bulgogi was so-so. Wished they offered multigrain rice. :P

  3. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Sophia-I am so jealous I could spit. Your mom makes kimchi jigae?!?! Any chance we will get the recipe on your blog????
    @Kim-you really should try Don's Bogam – LOVE their bulgogi!

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  1. [...] love for Korean food is well documented. Whether traditional or nouveau, I love me some kimchi, gochujang, and bibimbap. However, it isn’t as mainstream [...]

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