Welcome to the Northern Virginia Restaurant Blog.

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

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Lotus Garden - Chinese cuisine in Vienna, VA

224 Maple Avenue WEST
Vienna, VA 22180
Tel: (703) 255-9888

In a strip mall on Vienna's main drag, Lotus Garden has been a great addition to the local dining scene over the last 3 years.  We came here for dinner on a Saturday evening and the place was packed - good thing we made reservations!

Both service and food were very good. Decor is simple and clean, with dim lighting, making for a cozy and intimate atmosphere. The restaurant is small, so with a full house, the noise level can be on the loud side.  

The house specialty is its hand pulled noodles, and they are worth the visit.  The hand pulled noodles are featured in a variety of about 25 soups in a separate menu section.  The most fun is getting a front row seat to the kitchen window, where you can watch the noodles being rolled, stretched and cut, which happens about every 20-30 minutes.

In between the noodle pulling action, you can watch the entire kitchen staff at work with occasional fire flares and the general hustle and bustle of a busy kitchen. This built-in entertainment can certainly be the focus of the dining experience at Lotus Garden.

The food we ordered, pictured below, definitely fell on the mild side, and was all delicious.  Juicy and plentiful portions, a great variety on the menu, and helpful staff... in short, there were no disappointments. We would return in a heartbeat.

 Hand pulled noodles with roasted pork

 Hand pulled noodles with roasted duck

 Sauteed vegetables in garlic sauce

 Shredded chicken with pan fried noodles

 Szechuan chicken

A show of hand pulled and sliced noodles for an audience of diners

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Saravana Palace - Indian Vegetarian food in Fairfax, VA

11725 Lee Highway #A15
Fairfax, VA 22030
Tel (703) 218-4182

For the last 9 years, Saravana Palace has been serving up Southern vegetarian food to a crowd that flocks here. They do not take reservations or serve alcohol. Their decor is shabby. So, it is abundantly clear that the main attraction here is THE FOOD.

When the seven of us arrived on a Saturday to partake in Saravana's famous lunch buffet, we were greeted by several courteous waiters, who took excellent care of us for the duration of our meal. They brought countless plates of potato-stuffed Dosas, which are fermented crepes made of rice batter. They kept our water glasses filled. They also were visibly on hand to answer any questions and clean up any spills.

Food does not disappoint, either. The three huge buffet stations offer something for everyone. Various dips for the Dosa, that can double up as soups. There are lots of bread options; a variety of fried things like fried chillies, and of course, veggies, veggies, veggies.  The spice level is medium-high overall, but it is easy to tone it down with a wide range of carbs (different rices, breads, etc) for those who are less spice-tolerant or have dietary restrictions.  The dessert station is plentiful, with delightful options for those who have a sweet tooth, and even those like me, who do not.  

This place is as authentic as it gets for Southern Indian Vegetarian Buffets, judging by the overwhelmingly Indian clientele here. A great price of only $10.95 +tax for a weekend lunch buffet is a small price to pay for such a great feast.

Located in a small shopping strip with plenty of parking

Large clean, though run down, dining room that accommodates any size-groups

Booth seating for small parties

Wide assortment of veggies with or without sauces and lots of other delicacies

Dosa dips / soups and lots of carb options

Each Dosa is stuffed with potatoes

First buffet round!

Second buffet round!

Final buffet round!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Shilla Korean Bakery comes to Tysons!

Even if you've never visited the Shilla bakery in Annandale, we highly recommend visiting the newly-opened Shilla at the Tysons Corner mall.  It is on the second floor across from the mall entrance from the C garage.  

There is a wide variety of delicious pastires and even several pizzas that you can taste before committing to buying anything. All the cakes and pastries are works of art, are beautifully-displayed and appetizingly-lit. 

Grab a freshly baked roll and bring it to the neighbors' bbq!  Or take a break from shopping at one of the tables inside the bakery and enjoy a Boba Tea along with one of the pastries.  

One of the most appealing attributes of Korean baked goods is that they are not overly sweet, yet full of flavor and richness. We first tried a Boba Tea here. Boba Teas are basically frozen smoothies that come in many different flavors from mango to green apple, with a bunch of tapioca morsels on the bottom of the cup that are sucked through a wide straw. Be careful, as the frozen tapioca can have the effect of a 7-11 slurpee if you drink it too quickly.

Everything at Shilla bakery is mouthwateringly delectable. The advantage of tasting some fo the pastries is that you can pick what really suits your palate, as the flavors may be unfamiliar. 

One of us has a sweet tooth, and the other one does not. But even for me, who prefers savory over sweet, Shila bakery's desserts are a hit because of their low sweetmess.

A big welcome to the Tysons area!