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EastGate Asian Bistro (Formerly MoCA Asian Bistro), Pan-Asian in Chantilly


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We tried MoCA this past weekend. Overall, a good addition to the neighborhood.

The restaurant is small and not nearly as ornate as the other locations (as depicted on the MoCA website). The smallness is a good thing. The place filled up with families and there was a good vibe.

If I had to encapsulate this place in a few words, it would be "family-friendly suburban sushi." It's family-friendly in that the menu is full of stuff kids should like. Ours loved the shu mai, and liked the tempura. The tempura is in a panko breading instead of the usual tempura batter. That stuff was pretty bland, which some kids will be quite pleased with. Others (and most adults) will want to try the dipping sauce, which was pretty good. The tempura appetizers ($6) are a good size to serve as kids' meals.

As for the sushi, I was pleasantly surprised. The menu has a long list of "special rolls," some pretty complex. Twinsmommy tried the "spider roll," which features fried softshell crab, and the "Queen Roll," which has avocado and a lot of other stuff. The Queen roll, which was huge, was her favorite.

I got a spicy scallop roll, a salmon skin roll, and several pieces of nigiri sushi. One nice thing about MoCA is that the nigiri sushi and sashimi is priced per one piece, not two. As my ability to devour huge amounts of sushi has declined over the years, this is a nice feature since I like to try several different kinds of fish whenever I eat sushi. The salmon skin roll was meh, the spicy scallop roll was really good (with a great kick), and the nigiri were very good. The tobiko was a particular highlight -- three different colors of eggs on one piece. It looked a flag. That is a very nice touch. My plate was very attractive in general.

In short, I can't see how this place can fail. I encourage sushi lovers in Western Fairfax and Southern Loudoun to check it out.

PS: The service is still a work in progress -- my plate of sushi came out well after the rest of our food, and our miso soup didn't come until we asked about it when Twinsmommy's sushi rolls were delivered. But I will cut them some slack for a while on service. There were two guys working behind the sushi bar and they were working hard.

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I can't find anything to convince me that MoCA is directly affiliated with its New York cousins; they both have different websites (ours is www.mocachantilly.com), and there's nothing on the menu to indicate a link.

Although the address is technically in Chantilly, the restaurant is in Loudoun County, and is essentially South Riding - it's a fair hike up Route 50, a few miles further out than Thai Basil.

This is a lovely little (somewhat corporate-looking) restaurant, with service equally pleasant to the atmosphere. The "Asian-fusion" mix seems to be about 80% Japanese, 15% Thai, 5% other.

Kaki Fried ($6.50) were four large (two-bite), panko-crusted, fried oysters with a bit of thick, sweet dipping sauce. It's easy to blindfold frozen oysters when you fry them, but these still had a bit of unwanted tang in the finish.

Sushi Pizza ($8.95) was the dish of the day, and also the guiltiest pleasure. Imagine a thin-crusted quesadilla, stuffed with eel, avocado, and cream cheese (all three of which have similar textures) with a few strands of what appeared to be surimi, the pancake drizzled with eel sauce. Quartered, it was a gooey affair to pick up manually, but sometimes you just have to do these things.

Baby Lamb Chop ($8.95) was the oddball item, two middling quality chops, with the sweetish marinade and good bone char playing off one another to a moderate degree of success.

Sashimi Lunch ($12) can be described visually in two words: artful, and mammoth. A huge bowl with everything going on inside it except good fish. Quantity-wise, these pieces (fluke (I think), yellowtail, salmon, and tuna) were as thick as can be. For a dollar a piece, this was an incredibly generous portion of sashimi; unfortunately, the fish tasted frozen (it was also very cold) and as dull as a butter knife. The accompanying miso soup was standard, but salty and only lukewarm, and a bowl of rice and unlimited cups of green tea were gratis.

MoCA is an interesting little conundrum; you'd never find it unless you knew where to look. I'd come back for the decor and genuinely friendly staff; I'm just not sure what I'd order, because nothing I had today was a repeat with the possible exception of the Sushi Pizza.

Cheers,

Rocks

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Don: Following the recent credit card scandal at MoCA -- the perp was arrested, charged, and recently convicted -- the restaurant changed its name to EastGate Asian Bistro. It also expanded into the next storefront, adding a good bit of seating capacity.

BTW, 20152, which is fully in Loudoun County and includes South Riding, is also known as Chantilly. I live around the corner from this place, and when I get mail addressed to me in "South Riding," into the trash it goes.

The other local Asian fusion restaurant -- Grand Thai and Sushi, in South Riding Plaza -- just closed after an 8-year run. Will be interesting to see what goes into that large and poorly located space.

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Don: Following the recent credit card scandal at MoCA -- the perp was arrested, charged, and recently convicted -- the restaurant changed its name to EastGate Asian Bistro. It also expanded into the next storefront, adding a good bit of seating capacity.

BTW, 20152, which is fully in Loudoun County and includes South Riding, is also known as Chantilly. I live around the corner from this place, and when I get mail addressed to me in "South Riding," into the trash it goes.

The other local Asian fusion restaurant -- Grand Thai and Sushi, in South Riding Plaza -- just closed after an 8-year run. Will be interesting to see what goes into that large and poorly located space.

Thanks Bob. I remember I met Warren Rojas at this restaurant and had *no clue* what town to put it in - it's sort of "on the border" of about six places. I tend to think of Chantilly as being in Western Fairfax County, but I'm deferring to the local. I also now remember this was the first blog post I ever wrote on dcdining.com.

Did it change ownership as well? Because if so, ownership change + name change = new thread.

(There's a post I wrote awhile back with all the various permutations of what gets a new thread and what doesn't, and it's incredibly complicated - especially with Multiple Locations as another variable.)

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Same owners, AFAIK. The perp was a guy who they hired as a server. He had already hooked up with a guy who sold credit card "skimmers." A diner spotted him using one and he was busted minutes later by our friendly Loudoun County Sheriff's Deputies.

There are very few incorporated towns in Loudoun Co. Leesburg is the biggest, then Purcellville, then a few tiny hamlets (Round Hill, Hamilton, etc). None in this part of the county.

Also, there is going to be a good bit of restaurant activity along the Route 50 corridor over the next year or so. The soon-to-open Dulles Landing shopping plaza has signed up Smashburger and Which Wich as tenants. Doesn't sound like much, but we are desperate out here. Our local Supervisor, Matt Letourneau, has explained how tough this market is for nicer nonchain restaurants (as you can see from the number of places marked CLOSED in your Ashburn dining guide section).

Warren is a great guy. I call him Cookie. If you're a baseball fan, you get it.

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