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An outsider's first impressions of chowing in NOVA, and a request for suggestions ...

Went to XO Taste tonight! Thanks for the recommendation. It hit the spot.

Nice to see various roast and BBQ items in the corner of the restaurant. Back home we have specific stands in chinatown that would cater to one's cantonese BBQ needs, so it was nice to see XO Taste try to meet all of one's needs in one restaurant.

I ordered the simple won ton soup to start, followed by the roast pork, and a beef & chinese broccoli chow mein (aka crispy noodle). yes ... I played it safe. I wanted to know how they handled the basics. Presentation was nice, quantity large, and most importantly the taste had that classic Cantonese wave upon wave of umame with hints of sweetness and contrasting textures.

I will go back again next time I have a Cantonese craving and try to be a little more adventurous with the menu.

Thanks again. Next stop, Szechuan!

An outsider's first impressions of chowing in NOVA, and a request for suggestions ...

Thanks so much for the wonderful suggestions Steve, dpan, chowser and Dennis!!

I think you guys got a feel for the kind of spots I'm craving - really really appreciated. In particular, I'm very excited about the authentic Chinese spots. I've sorely missed the high quality Cantonese and Szechuan eats I've regularly enjoyed back home.

I'll be referring to this thread every time I go out to eat, and will go through your suggestions. Will post back here to let you all know how it is!

An outsider's first impressions of chowing in NOVA, and a request for suggestions ...

Hi everyone,

I just moved to the NOVA area (Reston/Herndon specifically) from Montreal, Quebec.

I've been trying some of the recommendations posted here to get a feel for the place, here's my thoughts!

Reston Kabob: This isn't authentic Persian kabob by any means, but I go here often for lunch. Portions are sizeable and the price is okay. I like their "white sauce"/tzatziki, and appreciate the fresh flatbreads. Kubideh, while heavily spiced, is pretty good and fatty. Chicken is a bit on the dry side but still quite good and regains new life if you grab one of the lemons next to the soda dispenser and give a little squeeze!

Busara: I was not expecting much from comments here, but I have been impressed by their pork drunken noodle. Noodles cooked perfectly, and the dish was seasoned nicely with some cherry tomatoes tossed in which gave a nice kick of acidity.

Thai Luang: I need to return here, but went once and ordered only one dish - the crispy duck (not sure if that was the actual name on the menu). It was overly heavy & greasy and simply did not make sense as a main dish. I wish the waittress had steered me away from this dish as my main course. The crispy duck might only be good as a complement dish to share.

Chao Phra Ya Thai: I tried more dishes here and enjoyed the experience. The large spring roll was unique and tasty, though I wish the syrupy sauce was served on the side because it overpowered this large appetizer. I ordered the duck panang curry which was good. The place did not blow me away but I would repeat.

Amoo's: VERY impressed with this authentic Persian eatery. For context, I am Persian, and my father ran a successful kabob stand in Tehran after the revolution. I know my kabobs. I think he would be impressed with the food here. I ordered the chicken soltani, a skewer of chicken served with two (!!) kubideh kabobs. The chellow (rice) was perfect. I enjoyed my dish with the traditional raw egg yolk and a cold glass of doogh (a little underseasoned, I fixed that with a pinch of salt). I am extremely excited to try out the other kabobis in the area Shamshiry and Rose.

Jackson's: I like this place. Went once for dinner where I had the lobster roll. I've had maybe 5 lobster rolls in my whole life, so I'm no expert, but it was truly excellent and easily the best I've ever had. Served with above average fries and a perfectly grilled corn on the cob. I topped it off with the white chocolate bread pudding with was disappointingly far too sweet. I must note the service at Jackson's is top notch.

Chickenout: Never heard it mentioned here but this is a great place for quick lunches at a good price. There's healthy options and comfort food-y options, and everything is quite good and consistent for a chain.

Mykonos: This place is terrible. I do not understand why so many people recommended it here. I had the pork souvlaki plate for lunch. The meat was dry and overcooked, the flatbread was tough, the tomatoes in my salad overripe, and the price *ridiculous*. Maybe I am spoiled because in Montreal we have tons of excellent, cheaply priced Greek eateries, but this place was VERY disappointing given the positive feedback given to it here.

Mayuri: A great indian lunch buffet. Pretty standard stuff, just executed well with a large selection. I will only knock this place for the nan which was "meh". At $10 you can't go wrong.

Five Guys: So, I finally got to try Five Guys. The burgers here do live up to the reputation. I like to get the bacon cheeseburger with "everything". It's a definite notch above BK or Wendys (I am a fan of the fast food burger provided by these chains). The fries however were disappointing, though I am very peculiar about my fries, and don't care for most fast food fries).

Il Fornaio: Went once and greatly enjoyed a lamb gnocci, one of the best gnocci's ive ever had. Went back, and it was no longer available. Had the lasagna, which was a greasy mess, especially after having experienced the near perfection of their gnocci. Will have to give the place another chance.

Now ... given some context of what I am experienced so far, I am looking for the following suggestions:

- I NEED some authentic Chinese food. Specifically, a Cantonese place and a Szechuan place. Must be authentic ... I want to see things like tripe, chinese broccoli, szechuan peppercorns, dried chili peppers, and home made noodles used in the preparation. I have tried one place, Ming's in DC chinatown, which did not meet this standard. I know this area is lacking in general for authentic chinese cuisine, but if I could have just one or two decent places to go to, then I would appreciate it.

- Pizza. I'd like a good convenient pizza place to go to. I do *not* prefer thin crust like most -- I like a nice bready, crusty crust. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

- Steak house. What is a good, reliable steak house around here?

- Finally, what have I missed so far? I feel like i've covered most of my bases here, but am curious if there's any major restaurants / cuisines I've been ignoring.

Thanks!!

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Shamshiry
8607 Westwood Center Dr Ste 100A, Vienna, VA 22182

Busara Restaurant
8142 Watson St, Mc Lean, VA 22102