Now comes this restaurant Wajoe, in the ashes of the Korean place that resided here before whose name escapes me now, a fitting testament to how unmemorable it was. I was a little apprehensive when I saw the new signs starting to come up a few months back. A new awning and some paint was not going to fix the mess that was here before.
Upon entering, I'm pleased to see the renovations do not stop at the door. The tables are fitted with new BBQ pits and ventilation systems. Some money was definitely spent here. When we're greeted by our server I ask him if this was under new ownership to which he said it was. It confirmed what I was seeing from this improved space and gave me hope that the food would be similarly improved.
First, of course, is the 반찬(banchan) or the side dishes. For lunch I think this amount works perfectly. Not a deluge of tiny dishes or a little plate of kimchi. Included are bean sprouts, potato strips in a light mayo sauce, fish cake and the omnipresent kimchi. A good indicator of a good Korean restaurant is the quality of the kimchi they serve and this kimchi was good. Immediately we knew it as a sign of good things to come.
1) Kalbi Box - $12.99
Ordering the regular kalbi BBQ for lunch would've been a little too baller for my friend so she opted for the kalbi box. It came in this massive dish that could have doubled as a small sea vessel. The kalbi, although pre prepared, was seasoned nicely and albeit not sizzling hot off the grill was not disappointing. The dumping was another highlight and next time the dumpling appetizer will definitely be ordered. Lots of food, all good, thumbs up.
2) Soft Tofu Chigae(순두부 찌개) - $8.99Yep, again this cauldron of bubbling jigae continues to confirm what the kimchi had foretold at the beginning of our meal. This is the real stuff, not watered down to make it any less spicy for sensitive non Koreans or modified to tone down the flavors. Piled high with tofu this pot of authentic Korean fare gave me renewed hope for the state of Korean food in the area. There is at least this one beacon within in the darkness.
Overall LTE score [8.5/10] I cannot put into words how awesome it is to have a Korean place that is 5 minutes away from the office that serves Korean food that I actually want to eat. Not only do I want to eat it I want to try everything that's on the menu. Maybe all this high praise is a little premature considering they opened their doors just yesterday and I've only eaten here once but what I had today made me want to go back and go back soon.
Wajoe Korean Restaurant
2034 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19103