NOT UNTIL I started studying Korean in college did I learn that. East Asian culture permeates many areas of Northern Virginia and is easily accessible for Washingtonians eager to experience it. Here are some good places to start:
Yelp review: http://www.yelp.com/biz/lighthouse-tofu-annandale
This understated restaurant serves a variety of soondubu — soft tofu soup. The interior décor may seem reserved, but it’s reminiscent of traditional restaurants found in Korea. Servers greet patrons with ice-cold barley water and the usual panchan (starter dishes).
After deciding which soondubu to order, you’ll also need to specify the desired level of spiciness; the restaurant offers five levels of heat for a customizable dish. Remember to crack the raw egg provided over the soup before digging in.