Image: Pork Belly Ssam
Last Updated: February 2022
Current Status: With recently expanded their hours, it is now open Tuesday through Saturday. The previously unused bar area also opened up for drinks and small bites first-come, first-served.
Overview: Incheon sits behind a standard storefront in a relatively standard strip-mall in Annandale. Other than that, there is nothing standard about this place. It feels like a personal extension (almost physically so) of Chef/Co-Owner Justin Ahn. Ahn made a career change from government work to restaurants and crossed paths with Alex McCoy of Lucky Buns, who helped with his pop-ups. In mid-2021 he opened this permanent restaurant that serves a set menu of courses with two seatings a night. Ahn uses Korean cuisine as a starting point but but builds out from there – adding ingredients and mixing techniques. Some dishes are playful and comforting, while others will open your eyes like an ethereal custard. The last of the savory dishes from our dinner, a crispy cod with Matsaman curry and persimmons, is the one that still lingers in memory a few months later – spicy, crispy, creamy – with the persimmon adding a rich sweetness. The dish almost fought itself before reconciling in a single, delicious bite.
Ahn just rolled over to a new menu for the start of 2022. It appears to carry forward much of the same approach that garnered him rave reviews out of the box, though the breakfast-as-dinner-dish of short ribs with fried egg has been dropped. It retains a take on Ssam, a NY Strip, and a rice dish done risotto-style.
There are cocktails and a short wine list. With the opening of the bar and the additional days of service, they probably added a couple extra staff to the minimal crew they had to start. But even with minimal staff, once the dishes start coming the place finds a rhythm that seems to make it all work. The bare-bones approach extends to the room itself with just a few decorative touches in the spare 45 seat dining area. Despite that, this place feels special.
We don’t usually stretch beyond the District lines to recommend a place, but Incheon is worth the trip.
Washingtonian: No coverage yet
DonRockwell.com – no thread yet
Northern Virginia Magazine: Three and half out of five.
District Fray – Nevin Martell included it on a year-end wrap up.