I’ve shamefully been rocking the suburbs a lot this weekend, so I once again apologize for this extremely un-DC post, but it’s worth it. Besides, Rockville is basically synonymous with Korean BBQ and DC is synonymous with terrible Asian cuisine, so this was the only way I was going to get my fix.
Hwa Gea Jang Tuh had the dubious honor of being in the exact vicinity I needed it to be. Upon arrival, we found that we were the only non-Koreans in the entire restaurant, which is always a good sign. This ain’t Mandu on K Street. Oh no, people. This is real Korean food. This is the kind of Korean BBQ that led me and my husband to engage in a lengthy debate about who would be the unlucky person who would have to timidly ask when we could eat our dinner. These are the issues you face when you’re an introvert married to another introvert. Who will invite people to our party? (Me). Who will call Comcast to yell at them? (Me). Who will be home when the AC repairman comes? (9 times out of 10: me). Who will ask the Korean BBQ waitress an embarrassing question? (Probably also me).
Everything is ordered for a group of 2+ people. If you want to try multiple meats, TOO BAD. Bring some friends, I guess? We ordered the bulgogi, as you do. We also got an order of shrimp shumai to start. Our server brought out the shumai along with all the meat and fixings and got to work. I have never seen a place bring out so many individual bowls of yum-yums, which included miso soup and salad. Few restaurant experiences are better than watching someone cook your food right in front of you, so Hwa Gea Jang Tuh totally delivers. From the time our server brought out the domed griddle to the time I pulled my meat off of it, I was mesmerized by the whole experience. She also–thankfully–told us when the meat was ready to eat, so our whole argument was for naught.
The bulgogi was served as DIY lettuce wraps, although there was a small bowl of rice included. Here is my finished product:
The shrimp shumai were delicate and lightly flavored but still shrimpy, and a good size for an appetizer. The meat was seasoned and cooked perfectly with a soft texture and tons of flavor. The bean sprouts and kimchi added good crunch and heat, and the bean paste was salty-umami goodness. I like the lettuce wrap concept too. My biggest complaint is that there wasn’t quite enough of all the fixings for two people, particulary the kimchi. I could have eaten three bowls of it by myself, so it was kind of painful for me to share. I also would have liked something spicy to top my wrap.
Although I’m happy with this meal and the service, I’m not sure what differentiates it from any of the twenty other Korean BBQ joints in Rockville. It’s great but not life-changing.
Price: $20 per person.
Bottom line: Ultimately, this place was a good deal on a good-sized meal with hot tea and a spectator experience thrown in to boot. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by, but don’t make a special trip (it is super far away).