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To Sok Jip is Worth the Wait

What the critics are saying this week

Dirty Habit
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

The Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema gives Dirty Habit a try and dives right into the dishes: the charred eggplant with sauteed bok choy and shiitake mushrooms in a sherry-honey glaze "makes for good grazing," as do the meatballs with ground duck, foie gras and smoked bacon, then fried to a gentle crackle: "Those sepia marbles break open to reveal mozzarella in their centers; an underliner of tomato sauce zapped with Korean hot pepper paste counters the richness."

Chef Kyoo Eom, who moved over from Poste, is a Korean native and says he’s serving "kind of food he likes to eat himself or make for guests at home" (think braised short ribs with house-made kimchi, pickled radishes and sushi rice).

Some turn-offs at Dirty Habit include warm, house-baked potato rolls that lose their appeal when they cool off, and sky-high wine prices (go for a cocktail instead, like the mezcal-fired Prickly Position, flavored with pineapple syrup, lime and an ice cube hot with serrano). [WaPo]

The Washington Post’s Emily Codik treks out to Annandale’s To Sok Jip, where a boring wait spilling out into a suburb’s parking lot is worth it for "unapologetically bold Korean cooking." This is the real deal, she reports:

This is where Koreans go for a reminder of the unfussy food served back home: hand-rolled noodle soups, bubbling stews served on portable gas stoves and stir-fried meat, red and slick with chili paste.

Among the popular picks at the fast-paced restaurant: broiled mackerel and the whole fried croaker and the jeyuk bokkeum and a pork­-and-vegetable stir-fry served on a sizzling platter with raw garlic and scallions. And the cheonggukjang jjigae is a fermented soybean soup with tofu and "deep funky flavors." As far as "showmanship," the clear winner is the boodae jeongol stew, served on a gas burner "that offers little in balance, but a lot in punchiness and history" (the recipe stems from the Korean War). Misses include the "bland" dolsot bibimbap and the "letdown" of a cloying kimchi pancake. But don’t let those stop you from going, she instructs. If anything will get customers lining up again soon, it’s the seafood and scallion pancake. [WaPo]

Sietsema is hot on Richmond this week. He writes about seven highlights that are worth the drive from D.C., including Sugar & Twine, Spoonbread Bistro, Shagbark, Rapp Session, Peter Chang, Metzger Bar & Butchery, and L’Opossum. As for Metzger, he raves about the steak tartare, while one "hit" at Chang’s spot is the calamari, "whose pleasant heat is tempered by a dipping sauce made fruity with pineapple juice and applesauce." And the young months-old Shagbark offers food "that embraces" both Virginia and the South, and Spoonbread is a "handsome" restaurant and bar in the Fan District. [WaPo]

Washington City Paper’s Caroline Jones checks out the chili crab fried chicken sandwich at District Fishwife at Union Market, and her conclusion isn’t great (1.5 out of 5): "Though conceptually well-intentioned, this sandwich fails on execution. From the messy construction to the lack of flavor, nearly everything needs improvement." [WCP]

Don Rockwell visits Kyirisan in Shaw, and thinks the chef's cooking could benefit from a "less is more" approach. "Ma has the ability to use an extraordinary number of ingredients within a single dish without making them overbearing — although I do wish he would consider refining his recipes to become a bit more minimalist, as many ingredients seem to be superfluous — not detrimental, but also not necessary." [DR]

FROM THE BLOGS: Been There, Eaten That’s Lori Gardner gives Suma in Bethesda a second chance...Bitches Who Brunch nosh at Radiator in Logan Circle.