AS THE ADOPTED KOREAN DAUGHTER OF AMERICAN PARENTS, I GREW UP LEARNING THAT MY KOREAN HERITAGE WAS NOT ONLY EASILY ATTAINABLE – BUT ALSO DELICIOUS. IF YOU ARE A FAN OF RAMEN, PHO, SUSHI AND OTHER ASIAN DISHES, I ENCOURAGE YOU TO TRY MY FAVORITE LOCAL ASIAN RESTAURANTS.
A fusion of Korean and Cajun cuisine, Mokomandy elevates cultural staples such as dumplings and gumbo to new heights. The family-style dining construct at Mokomandy revolves around a menu that is divided into small plates for sampling, medium plates for individual dining and large plates for sharing.
To satisfy umami cravings, try the Grilled Baby Octopus and Pork Belly Skewers which are served with house made edamame butter, mayo and bonito flakes.
For Cajun cravings, the Shaved Catfish and Peppers is a crunchy and bright start to your meal. Next, try the Roast Pork and Heirloom Hoppin’ John, which features slow roasted pork belly and lardo over “popcorn” rice.
For carb addicts, try the highlyaddicting Mokokarae and Pasta, which begins with fresh curry, fingerling potatoes and braised pheasant served in a tangy house-made lemon curry.
Date night, dinner out for foodies, those looking for adventure in their cuisine
20789 Great Falls Plaza Unit 176, Sterling
Since opening in One Loudoun three years ago, Okada has been providing fresh seafood flown in daily in a relaxing upscale atmosphere.
Okada offers a dozen different ramen dishes on its menu with photos posted in the restaurant for the novice ramen eater.
The Pork Miso Ramen is the perfect dish for a cool evening with pork cooked two ways, a soft-boiled egg, scallions and corn. Your mouth will be tingling after each bite – this dishhas some kick to it.
The Spicy Crab and Salmon Tower with mango and avocado is not only beautifully plated but also provides a wonderful balance of sweet and salty in each bite.
A family night out or a group celebration
20357 Exchange St, Ashburn
Bonchon, which means “My hometown” in Korean, came to the US ten years ago and the chain’s crunchy fried chicken is a hit with American diners. Bonchon makes each order fresh and fries chicken not once, but twice, for maximum crunch.
For the fried chicken-lover, start with the soy garlic flavor. Next try the spicy flavor along with a side of daikon radish to help cool the inferno brewing in your mouth.
For vegetarians, there are plenty of options including Stone bowl Bibimbap (think: rice bowl casserole). Also, the Udon Noodle Soup is very good.
For more traditional Korean food, the Japchae and Bulgogi don’t disappoint, along with a side of kimchi coleslaw.
A casual lunch or dinner
20921 Davenport Drive #131, Sterling or
1607 Village Market Boulevard, Leesburg
This is some of the best Pho in the DMV area. A comprehensive menu boasts many iconic Vietnamese dishes, vegetarian entrees, and, of course, plenty of soup.
Start your meal with an order of crispy Spring Rolls – one of the best items on the menu. Sip on a creamy and floral Thai iced tea while you decide the rest of your meal.
The Pan-Fried Wide Noodle with Seafood is a stir-fry that includes shrimp, scallops and squid along with a medley of perfectly crunchy red peppers, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower.
The main attraction here is, of course, the Pho. Saigon Café’s take on this classic soup is both comforting and flavorful. Starting with beef bones, the broth simmers while rock sugar, star anise, cinnamon, garlic and grilled onions are added to achieve to the savory base. Diners can choose to add meat, rice noodles and other accoutrements such as Thai basil, onions or bean sprouts. If you’re looking to bring the heat, load up on the jalapenos, hot chili oil or Sriracha.
Lunch or take-out
20921 Davenport Drive, #108, Sterling
Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar
Passion Fin has won numerous awards already for its fresh cuisine and this small but good eatery with a full-service bar and cozy ambiance has quickly become a neighborhood favorite.
A great way to start your meal is with the warm Secret Sea Scallops, featuring a fresh mango and sweet chili sauce.
The Rainbow Sashimi appetizer is a dish that features a variety of sashimi in a pool of ponzu sauce. Each slice is topped with a single leaf of cilantro and a thin slice of jalapeno, letting the freshness of the fish come to the forefront.
For the sushi lovers, don’t miss the popular Redskin Roll – a shrimp tempura roll with spicy crab, topped with spicy tuna and fresh mango. The Amazing Roll provides a different flavor in every piece due to layers of eel, sweet shrimp, seared tuna, avocado, fish roe, wasabi mayo and eel sauce on top and spicy crunchy salmon inside.
Lunch or dinner.
2780 Creek View Plaza, Ashburn
PHOTOS BY TRACI J. MEDLOCK