WaJoe Korean Restaurant- Rittenhouse (Philadelphia, USA)

Korean food is one of my favorites.  In fact, if I had to choose between all Asian foods I would choose Korean and Japanese as the top two. I can’t believe I just said that because I also love Vietnamese and Chinese. How about we forget this favorites thing all together. I’ll just restart by saying I love Korean food. Vancouver has a large Korean community and growing up there meant I am completely spoiled when it comes to authentic Korean food (and all other Asian food).  It’s funny how I learned to love Korean food since my first exposure to Korean was completely through smell. Ah yes, the infamous Kimchi. In College I lived in an all girls dormitory and on our floor there lived a Korean exchange student. Having a communal kitchen and fridge meant that everyone stored their exotic foods in the fridge. None of us knew what Kimchi was at the time, we just knew that the pretty Korean girl had something really smelly in the fridge all year. As soon as you opened up the fridge door, the smell of Kimchi would permeate the entire floor and linger there for days. Oh kimchi. The not so great odour of pickled Kimchi tickled my olfactory senses in the worst way possible and remained there for years. 
It was not until a few years later that I discovered just how amazing Korean food was.  I also fell in love with Kimchi to the point that I now store bottles of pickled kimchi in my fridge. I also introduced Korean cuisine to the Count who having similar taste in food also fell in love. We now make regular trips to Korean restaurants where ever we can find one. New Orleans was lacking in Korean cuisines (and many others in fact). So, you could understand how excited we were when we arrived in Philadelphia and realized that there is such a large pocket of all different types of international cuisine.  Within our first week we made our way to WaJoe Korean restaurant. 
 
Wajoe is one of many Korean restaurants in Philadelphia but we mainly chose to go there based on the proximity to our home. We went around 3 p.m. and the restaurant was empty. Each table has an installed barbecue in the middle. But we weren’t there for Korean barbecue. We were there for bibimbap and Japchae. 
Once you place your order, it is customary to be served several small side dishes including fermented tofu, potatoes and bean sprouts in gochujang (chili paste). 

And of course, no Korean meal is complete without a side of Kimchi. 

For starters, we ordered the spicy rice cake. For a starters dish, it turned out to be quite large but so delicious that nothing remained except maybe a few rings of onion. 
Spicy Rice Cakes
We ordered the Japchae. After I had half of it I realized there was no beef and the menu included beef  in the description. When I brought it to our servers attention she said that most people in America don’t eat beef and that is why it was served without it. Never heard that one before. Needless to say she brought a small plate of fried beef to add to the dish. I thought that was a bit unprofessional. If you are going to list an ingredient in your menu then you should serve the dish as described. If I ask for no beef then serve the dish with no beef but don’t assume. 
Japchae

Japchae is made with sweet potato noodles or glass noodles, stir fried in sesame oil with various vegetables and served with beef. It is very tasty.  Our next dish was the traditional beef bibimbap. Bibimbap literally means ‘mixed rice’. It is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with sauteed vegetables and chili paste. A fried egg and sliced meat are also optional additions. The ingredients are stirred together in a hot stone bowl right before eating. 

Bibimbap

The result is shown in the photo below! A mixture of rice, beef, eggs and vegetables for a mouthful of bursting flavors. 

Mixed Bibimbap
WaJoe met our expectations. We went there craving Korean food and left with our bellies full of Kimchi, bibimbap and other Korean delights. In terms of quality, I would not say that it is the best Korean food I have ever had but it certainly does serve staple Korean dishes. It was good enough that we have considered going there again. 
WaJoe Korean Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

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