Guest Author - Donna Ledbetter
When a meal is no longer just about food, it becomes a celebration of the senses. It is an experience that transcends your palate and invites your eyes, ears, and sense of touch along for the journey. So it is when one dines at Woomi, a top-tier Korean and Japanese restaurant in the heart of Wheaton, Maryland. Locals in the area know that the surrounding neighborhood comprises mostly Latino and Hispanic cultural offerings. From Mexican and South American eateries to international food markets, Wheaton caters to a specific kind of culinary fan. Then are places like Woomi that offer a wonderfully different cuisine.
When you step in the door, it is like being whisked away to an Asian retreat. A full-sized pond separates the eating area from the entrance. The sound of rippling water immediately calms and soothes. On the walls, there is what seems to be ancient Japanese and Korean art, and mixed in is the detailed furniture and architecture. The restaurant's unique wood-carved arches and its green, natural decor are like a new experience, a respite from the urban city landscape that meets you just outside its walls.
For that reason alone, it is no wonder that many people tend to eat here in groups, though there is a sushi bar where you can enjoy the surroundings alone. Woomi is a place you want to share with others. It is wholly unique and warrants special company or an occasion.
As for the food, it is the best Korean and Japanese in the DC metro area. It has the freshest sushi, and the roe are full and firm, giving you a wholesome popping sensation in your mouth as you bite down on them. Woomi also borrows a theme from Mexican traditions with a special dipping sauce. Though you can still have your traditional wasabi and soy, its unique fusion of soy with jalepeno gives homage to the flavors of the surrounding neighborhood culture.
Also try the house salad with ginger dressing. It is chock full of what you might expect -- thick flavor-rich carrots, crunchy broccoli flowerettes, leafy lettuce, and such -- but would you expect bean spouts and other Asian vegetable delights? The Woomi house salad is a hearty alternative to the lettuce-and-dressing-only salads you might be used to at other Japanese-inspired restaurants. But then again, Woomi is unlike any other place.
The restaurant offers huge, ample servings of all of its dishes in addition to providing stellar dining service. So often diners rarely expect to have good food, great ambiance, and exemplary service all in one place. As the saying goes, "two out of three ain't bad." Yet, sometimes, a place like Woomi comes along and sets the bar high. Even other restaurants that try to meet higher standards don't quite seem to make the grade.
Though not located in Chinatown, Woomi offers the best Asian cuisine in the DC area, and it is just a short walk from the nearby metro. It's well worth the trip.
Woomi Garden Restaurant
2423 Hickerson Dr
Wheaton, MD 20902-4503