Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Han Sung Oak Restaurant

restaurant1Inside the unassuming Harris Teeter plaza on Columbia Pike hides a restaurant sure to offer all types of diners a fine Korean dining experience.

restaurant1Inside the unassuming Harris Teeter plaza on Columbia Pike hides a restaurant sure to offer all types of diners a fine Korean dining experience.

Sitting inside Han Sung Oak gives the whimsical impression of being outdoors. Asian pagoda roofs jut out of the walls, which are decorated with false window frames, and various plants decorate the space. Tables, each equipped with a burner for cooking meat, comfortably line the walls.

Everything about the restaurant suggests fine dining, from the elegant décor to the gracious hospitality of the hosts and waitresses. And the food seals the deal.
The appetizers menu features options in the $12 range, including the go choo jun (fried beef-stuffed green peppers), saeng sun jun (thin fried fish fillets), and gogi jun (fried, flattened meat balls). Undecided? Try all three in the modeum jun and find that they are a lightly fried, savory, delicious way to start a meal.

Soon after the appetizers are served comes miso soup – an Asian restaurant standard served up without fault at this restaurant – along with a parade of Korean side dishes. Called banchan, the side dishes feature small portions of about a dozen treats, including chili-seasoned onions, noodles in beef broth, and of course, the Korean staple, kimchi. Those curious about the different side dishes can count on the wait staff to both gladly walk them through the different ingredients and treatments of each dish, and refill containers as hungry diners quickly empty them.

The entrée menu includes a couple dozen authentic Korean options in the $17 range, but not to be missed are the popular Korean dishes bulgogi and dolsot bibim bbap, which are offered up superbly at Han Sung Oak.restaurant2

For the bulgogi, the wait staff fires up the table-side barbecue and pours in beef broth, thus imparting some flavor and steam into the thinly sliced pieces of marinated beef. The cooking of the beef serves not only to whet the appetite, but also to provide some exotic entertainment for diners. And there is no shame when customers, overcome by the intoxicating aroma of garlic, mushroom, and the almighty beef, start to pick pieces of the barbecuing meat from the grill before it is formally served. The beef is offered up with a serving of rice and a plate of lettuce, which accents the slightly sweet and awfully tender meat.

Another curiosity comes in the form of the dolsot bibim bap, served in a heated stone pot which manages to heat the meal throughout and keep it warm all the way through dining. The dish offers mixed vegetables and beef topped with a fried egg, served at the table in a hot pot. And as many dishes served at this restaurant are an activity, the bibim bap is no exception. Customers are advised to season the dish to taste with chili sauce and mix, watching as the egg breaks and the yolk and sauce drip over every piece of the concoction. The restaurant’s treatment to the dish uses crisp vegetables, tender meat, and offers up a chili sauce with excellent flavor, but not too much spice as to put off the average diner.

When the customers have cleared their many, many plates and think the meal is done, out comes another surprise. A complementary dessert is offered with the ordered meal.  A small dish of a sweet liquid with rice is served.  After the variety of hearty meats served in the meal, this simply sweet dish is a refreshing end to a very large, diverse meal that serves up a taste of Korea just right for an American audience.

Hours: Monday – Sunday, 10:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Address: 6341 Columbia Pike, Falls Church

Phone: 703-642-0808