Welcome to the Northern Virginia Restaurant Blog.

Restaurant reviews in Tyson's and surrounding area... mostly

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Woo Lae Oak, Vienna, VA

8247 Leesburg Pike (Rt. 7)
Vienna, VA 22182

Woo Lae Oak is high end dining.  It is a total experience that is prepared, served and appropriately billed at a dining level above the normal neighborhood Korean fare.  Woo Lae Oak is the latest of a handful of Korean restaurants we’ve been to in the northern Virginia area and while it is upscale and refined, we seem to be more fond of the lesser decorated, but similar quality food we sampled at other Korean places.

The service was as expected in a place of this caliber.  The servers were attentive and explained the menu sufficiently.  We started with appetizers that included seafood tempura and seaweed salad.  These dishes, while more Japanese than Korean, were on par with what we’ve sampled at other Japanese restaurants.  Bill ordered the braised beef short ribs.  This dish came fully prepared and was cooked to perfection.  The tender and flavorful meat with hints of Asian spice just fell off the bone.   Elena ordered the beef bulgogi.  This meat was brought to us raw and the wait staff patiently turned the meat on the embedded grill in the table’s center until it was perfectly cooked.  The bulgogi was tender and flavorful.  The entrees were accompanied by sticky rice and the half dozen endless servings of side dishes that while mostly pickled were varied and tasty.  The portions there are a bit deceiving as none of the portions seemed large but we did not walk away hungry. 

A side note about the table grill:  Our experiences in Korean restaurants usually resulted in wearing the smells of the restaurant home in our clothes.  Woo Lae Oak’s exhaust system (built into the side of the grill instead of an overhead fan) pulled the smoke and smell downward from the side of the grill.  This was quite a nice feature.  Bottom line is that this is an expensive restaurant and we’re not quite sure if the price is commensurate with the food.  It was reasonable with a Groupon, but the next time we’re looking for some place to satisfy our Korean cravings we’ll probably head back to Annandale.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bombay Tandoor

8603 Westwood Center Drive, 
Vienna, VA 22182
phone (703) 734-2202
Don’t be fooled by the unassuming exterior of this strip mall corner eatery next to Paisano’s Pizza.  Bombay Tandoor is a treat in so many ways.  The outstanding staff, including the waiters and manager, is definitely an asset.  They were welcoming and upbeat, with friendly, plentiful and attentive service.  The wait staff was clearly trained and knowledgeable, multi tasking and hustling around, looking like they really like working there.   Our dinner was great, but the employees of the restaurant made it even better.  

Décor and furnishings are very Bombay Company style, beautifully accented with large portraits of who are probably Indian Panjabi elders.  High ceilings gave the restaurant the feeling of spaciousness.  The restaurant looked very clean and the atmosphere was warm and gracious. By 8:30pm, most of the tables were full.  

The food is what really deserves the focus.   While we were looking over the rather extensive menu, featuring a variety of dishes likely to please most pallets, the waiter brought us some salty crispy wafers (they are probably called something else) and two kinds of sauces.  Our appetizers – Paneer Shashlyk (a rather spicy fried cheese) and  Chicken Tikka Mint (mildly spiced grilled chicken cubes with grilled onions) – were a perfect mixture of flavor, texture and presentation.  We got a plain Naan to accompany our entrees, which were Chicken Biryani and Chicken Kadhai.  We also ordered a side of Mixed Masala Kachumber salad for $4, which was just as tasty as the entrees and complemented the meal perfectly.  It consisted of lettuce, onions, cucumber, tomato and a wonderful white creamy dressing.  The Chicken Biryani, which came with a side of raita (yogurt sauce), was excellent and probably a bit spicy for a standard Biryani, so if you are going to order it, keep this in mind.  The other entrée, Chicken Kandhai, was presented in a small pot over a tea candle with some green peppers and a delicious gravy, along with plentiful Basmati rice.  This was a lot of food, so we ended up bringing some of it home, no room for dessert.  All for under $60!

But the real unexpected surprise on this Saturday night was the banquet.  The restaurant sectioned off the larger part of the space for what turned out to be a wonderfully cheerful and colorful Sikh engagement party.  Party guests in colorful saris, young and old, began gathering around 7:00 for a party that began around 8:00.  We got to see the beginning of the festivities, together with some dancing and music.  This was an added bonus to the dinner experience.  Amazingly, the manager did not shoo us away when we asked if we could stick around to watch.  

We will definitely be recommending this place to friends and returning here.