Chulpan-So Bulgogi Photo by Rachel Weatherly
There are parts of greater Richmond that are obscure to my daily life as a Fan resident. But if the journey involves a great meal, I'll go anywhere, and I'll drag my family and friends along. It was with this spirit of adventure that I headed to Yewon Korean BBQ Restaurant in Chesterfield County with my two daughters, our piano teacher and his friend.
Anticipating Asian-style barbecue, typically prepared on built-in tabletop grills, I mentally preordered some pork belly during the 25-minute drive. But there were no grills anywhere. We were disconcerted, but we rallied and ordered five dishes to share. Then came another disappointment: At 7:30 p.m., prime dinnertime, Yewon was out of dumplings. Still, the dinner was far from a total bust. We really liked the Chulpan-So Bulgogi. Marinated in a tasty sauce of soy, sesame seeds and oil, garlic, and sugar, these thin strips of beef were the clear favorite. And the Ja Jang Bap, fried rice with pork in a flavorful, molasses-like black-bean sauce, was a surprising hit. The texture of the Jap Chae — clear, sweet potato noodles stir-fried in sesame oil and flavored with soy sauce — was too sticky, though the taste was pleasantly robust.
Korean meals are noted for their numerous side dishes, so we were surprised to receive only three on this weeknight excursion, though the most famous accompaniment, kimchi, was among them. Said to improve digestion, this fermented napa cabbage was pleasantly spicy. The pickled daikon radish and a jelly-roll-like sliced omelet with carrots and green onions were also delicious.
I did learn one bit of Korean dining etiquette. Each person received a set of chopsticks, a fork and an oversize spoon. The spoon is used to serve from each community platter, but not for eating with. Since I'm still on a search for an amazing Korean restaurant in Richmond, at least I'll know what to do when I find it.
Yewon Korean BBQ Restaurant
10827 Hull Street Road, No. 102, 745-1147
Prices: $7 to $24.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; closed Sunday.