By Corinna Lothar
There is a new, informal Korean restaurant in Georgetown serving authentic Korean family dishes. Zannchi opened at the end of March. The restaurant is owned by Eunjung Kim, who recently received her MBA from Georgetown University. Her family owns restaurants in Korea, and she brings to Zannchi—which means “feast” in Korean—her knowledge not only of Korean cuisine, but the experience of time spent in New York and Florence, Italy.
Although the menu is limited, the food is very good. Dishes are made with fresh ingredients, often enhanced with super-spicy Korean house-made kimchi. The menu consists of half a dozen “banchan,” which are small plates or “tapas,” as the restaurant calls them, and half a dozen rolls (“kimbap”), which resemble Japanese sushi by combining ingredients in a rice blanket, rolled in seaweed. The rolls can be ordered with Korean barbecued beef, spicy pork, caramelized kimchi, mushrooms, or tuna.
The banchan include two “jeon” dishes that resemble thick pancakes, one made with vegetables, and the other with meat. House-made chips are another small plate.
Bulgogi are marinated, barbecued strips of beef. The dish can be ordered as a banchan small plate where the beef is mixed with onions. The portion is quite large, perfectly spiced, and delicious. Glass noodles with assorted vegetables (“japchae”) is another good sized vegetarian not-so-small plate.
Among Zannchi’s highlights are the mandu dumplings. Two large, plump dumplings, filled with minced ground beef and scallions, are prepared either steamed or fried and served with a dipping sauce of soy sauce and vinegar. They are larger and less delicate than Chinese pot stickers, but they are delicious and irresistible.
Along with the banchan and kimbap, the menu offers a choice of seven bibimbap—hot stone bowls, each filled with a combination of meat and vegetables on rice. The meat in five of the seven is beef, while one features spicy pork and one is vegetarian, made with tofu and avocado.
The classic bibimbap is a bed of rice topped with finely ground beef, carrots, zucchini slivers, onions, and a fried egg. The bright red spicy sauce between the rice and vegetables gives the dish a considerable kick. Other beef bowls are prepared with short ribs or bulgogi.
Each meal begins with a small dish of the house-made kimchi and a bowl of miso soup.
The restaurant now has a liquor license and serves beer and wine, including rice wine and three reds and three whites by the glass or bottle. Sweet Korean iced coffee and hot or cold Korean teas are also available. The only dessert is shredded ice with red bean paste.
Zannchi: 1529 Wisconsin Avenue NW, (202) 621-9162.
Hours: Open daily from 11:30 am to 9:30 pm.
Prices: Banchan $6 to $13; rolls $9 and $10; Bibimbap $13.50 and $17.50.