Sunday, November 18, 2012

To Sok Jip in Annandale

In the continuing quest to explore Korean restaurants in Annandale, we met up with a Korean friend to go to To Sok Jip in Annandale. (TSJ is located across the street from Honeypig and nearby Joseph's Coat, a resale shop.) She ordered effortlessly in Korean and gave helpful recommendations of dishes to try. One day I may finally learn how to read Hangul, but tonight was not that day. We arrived by 5 pm to get in line for a table. With only 7-8 tables inside this small restaurant, it's best to avoid prime time dining hours if you want to get a table without a lengthy wait. Even arriving on the early side, we had a few minutes to wait for a table and were instructed to look over the menu to decide what we wanted to order.
I had heard the pan chan were good and was eager to try them. The array was nice and the quality was better than most other Korean restaurants. To Sok Jip is known for making 'homestyle' Korean dishes. 
Hamul pajeon
A highly recommended dish is their version of the seafood pancake. Much thicker (I've seen it referred to as 'Chicago style') than other varieties, the squid remained nice and tender, not overcooked and rubbery. I think I prefer the version at Lighthouse better.
When you order a grilled or fried fish, you have a choice of soups/stews. This is the doenjang, a spicy miso-based stew with tofu and vegetables. The husband tried the one made with natto (fermented soybeans). While very healthy for you, it's an acquired taste (It smelled like feet). 
Grilled Mackerel
Mackerel can be extremely pungent when you cook it at home.  (This does not stop us. Makes you feel sorry for our neighbors.) We are both fans of the oily fish. This was a very large portion.
So glad I am not the dishwasher here, so many small dishes.
The husband ordered the fried croaker, which has a light almost cornmeal-like crust. I think he would have preferred the mackerel.
Our friend ordered the Fried Belt Fish, which is one of her favorites.
The flavor of the fish is really subtle and nice, although you need some dexterity with chopsticks to pick out the meat around the bones.
Barely looks like we made a dent in the dishes. We took home the remaining fish and pajeon and will have that tomorrow with some more kimchi and miso soup. 
All these dishes ended up costing $22 per person including tax and tip. Incredibly reasonable for so much food, and the quality was at the level I had anticipated. It may be a bit more difficult if you go without a Korean speaker, but the menu is also in English. For the different fish types, those are listed on the wall in Hangul, which is more difficult but manageable if you figure out the names for the mackerel, croaker or belt fish ahead of time. 
The husband was a little less impressed with the restaurant. Since I cook for him most nights of the week, he's not in search of a 'homestyle' restaurant. He prefers bbq places where we can kick back and enjoy some soju and Cass beer with the panchan, parade of Korean soups and grilled meats. 

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