Vienna, VA 22182
Woo Lae Oak is high end dining. It is a total experience that is prepared, served and appropriately billed at a dining level above the normal neighborhood Korean fare. Woo Lae Oak is the latest of a handful of Korean restaurants we’ve been to in the northern Virginia area and while it is upscale and refined, we seem to be more fond of the lesser decorated, but similar quality food we sampled at other Korean places.
The service was as expected in a place of this caliber. The servers were attentive and explained the menu sufficiently. We started with appetizers that included seafood tempura and seaweed salad. These dishes, while more Japanese than Korean, were on par with what we’ve sampled at other Japanese restaurants. Bill ordered the braised beef short ribs. This dish came fully prepared and was cooked to perfection. The tender and flavorful meat with hints of Asian spice just fell off the bone. Elena ordered the beef bulgogi. This meat was brought to us raw and the wait staff patiently turned the meat on the embedded grill in the table’s center until it was perfectly cooked. The bulgogi was tender and flavorful. The entrees were accompanied by sticky rice and the half dozen endless servings of side dishes that while mostly pickled were varied and tasty. The portions there are a bit deceiving as none of the portions seemed large but we did not walk away hungry.
A side note about the table grill: Our experiences in Korean restaurants usually resulted in wearing the smells of the restaurant home in our clothes. Woo Lae Oak’s exhaust system (built into the side of the grill instead of an overhead fan) pulled the smoke and smell downward from the side of the grill. This was quite a nice feature. Bottom line is that this is an expensive restaurant and we’re not quite sure if the price is commensurate with the food. It was reasonable with a Groupon, but the next time we’re looking for some place to satisfy our Korean cravings we’ll probably head back to Annandale.