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MokoMandy (2010-2020), Great Falls Plaza in Sterling - Korean and Cajun, Not Fused Together, in the Original Hooked Location


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Just finished some leftover "Steak Frites" from dinner last night at Mokomandy so I thought I'd start a topic about it. Mokomandy stands for MOdern KOrean by MANDY. The menu is a combination of modernized Korean and modernized Cajun dishes...but not fusion. Everything on the menu is either Korean or Cajun, just not both. My wife has been a few times with friends, but this was my first visit.

The space is relatively small, and somewhat modern, but it still feels cozy. Great liquor and wine selections, with a lot of wine options from less-well-known producers (US, South America, France). Wine bottle prices are reasonable, no complaints about the mark-ups.

Service was great at all levels. The owner and several members of the wait-staff recognized my wife and even greeted her by name. Bartender was knowledgeable, friendly and professional. Same for the waitstaff. (Small but comfortable bar, could be a little less bright).

The menu is organized by Small, Medium, Large, and $2 Sides. You can do a la carte, or, depending on the size of your party, order a couple of the large items to share and then mix in small and medium.

Our group of four seemed to like everything we had:

  • Gator croquettes -- awesome, with nice bacon and bechamel sauce.
  • Fried pickles -- if you like pickles, you'll like these. I'm not a huge dill pickle fan, but it's hard to argue against anything fried.
  • Fried Young Chicken -- very interesting with bacon, brussel sprouts (which were surprisingly good), onions, and more.
  • Jambalaya -- Pork, Chicken and Cracklins. I didn't try (besides the cracklins), but my friend who ordered it seemed happy with it.
  • Korean Pot Roast -- I told the waitress to have the chef surprise me, and this is what I got. Great variety of textures and flavors. Thin sliced pears in flower-like shapes atop beef, purple rice, sweet potato puree and more. Doesn't belong in the "Large" section of the menu. More appropriate for its own "Huge" list.
  • Steak Frites -- Great seasoning on the tenderloin medallions, a very good sprucing up of a classic dish.

As we were the last table to leave, the chef spent a few minutes chatting with us, and was genuinely interested in how we liked our food. This place has a good menu, good staff, and they are trying hard. I look forward to going back soon.

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We found ourselves going to Sterling, saw the above post on Mokomandy and decided to give it a try, mostly for its craft drinks. Husband was excited about its extended craft & imported beer list; but we went there for the cocktails (oh, and yes some food). Here are the FOUR we sampled:

Hurricane: Kracken Black Spiced Rum, Brugal Anejo Rum, Tommy Bahama Rum, Lemon, Passion Fruit

Citragave Sunset: Milagro Tequila Aperol, Lemon Agave Syrup, Orange-Scented Salt

Blackberry Caipirinha: Leblon Cachaca, lime, Brandy Roasted Blackberry Syrup, Sugar-Smoke Rim

Hibiscus 75: Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin, Hibiscus, Elderflower, Lucien Albrecht Cremant d'Alsace

For Food:

Side:Fried Kale Chips ($2), I like roasted kale chips better

Small plate: KochuViche, poached scallop, wasabi arugula, yuzu, blac sesame seed, chili thread, shrimp chip ($11) This was good, not great. probably will not order it again.

Small Plate:Boudin Balls ($7), pork, chicken, rice, cayenne, mustard, steen's canes syrup. My favorite of the evening, paired nicely with Sav Blanc, Capture, Sonoma Cal 2009.

Small Plate: Jambalaya ($7) w/ cracklins, house made sausage & tasso, chicken, tomato, trinityh, rice. This was OK too, smoke was the primary flavor. Personally I think smoke should be more of an essence; flavors could be more rounded too.

I agree with eyedubya, they are really trying hard, the owner also asked how we liked the food. And if I lived in the area I would definitely go there again.

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I visited Mokomandy again this weekend, had dinner at the bar. Gained an appreciation for their craft cocktails -- the staff put some real work into making a couple in front of us for others in the dining room.

For food:

  • Gator croquettes: Nicely fried, and the sauce was a little spicier than I remembered..
  • "Kobe" carpaccio: Good use of pear, greens and pink peppercorns. This one goes fast, in case you are thinking about sharing it...
  • Shrimp etouffe: Also a slight modernization of the original, but the flavor is spot-on.
  • Steak Frites: As mentioned earlier, with sweet potato fries. The "large" sized entrees are great for sharing

This restaurant is not typical for Loudoun county. It's obviously not a chain, and it's high-quality cooking with a solid wine list. And it's not part of the old-school establishment of the Leesburg standouts. Definitely worth going to, and I hope it's around for as long as I'm around the area.

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I hit there earlier tonight with a coworker. I'll brief on the food - the cocktail part I'll go into more detail on Scofflaw's Den, maybe even later tonight.

Sides:

Spicy Kimchi - exactly what it sounds like. Not nearly as spicy as I expected, not hot at all really, but very tasty.

Fried Kale Chips - I wouldn't have ordered this on my own but they were quite good! Kale leaves, fried up in canola oil. Nice and crispy.

Cracklins - HOLY CRAP, GET THIS.

"Small":

Foie Gras Dumplings - $3 small ones for $13. Had I split these with one or two others, I would've said "yes, definitely" to value and taste. By myself, they went from "oh my goodness, that's delicious" to "great" to "okay, I've had enough now".

"Medium":

Wild Boar Bowl - braised wild boar, topped with a fried egg and a large fried plantain (?) chip, over kimchi and a variety of other stuff. Oof, that was a lot of food for $12, and very good.

It's definitely not a typical Loudoun establishment! I loved the decor and feel of the place, though it can quickly get very noisy.

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A family birthday dinner took us out to Mokomandy this weekend. Our crowd of 8 had a really nice time. Made even nicer by the warmth and hospitality of the entire staff. Thanks to Tad, Tom and Steve for making us feel so welcome! My husband and his siblings are serious beer-o's and they each found something they really seemed to enjoy on the extensive beer list. I don't drink beer, but reading the descriptions was pretty entertaining..

On to the food, with 8 of us I won't go into every dish we had, but I'll mention the standouts that made it down to my end of the table:

Wild Boar Bowl - one of the best dishes of the night. Tons of moist meat, rice and other veggies. I wish the fried egg served on top had a runny yolk but that's really being picky.

Fried Oysters - I actually didn't try these myself, but our resident chef seemed pretty darn happy with them and listed this as his favorite.

Deviled Eggs - I love any kind of deviled egg...but put a house smoked piece of bacon on top and I'm in heaven...

Gator Croquettes - listed on the small plates, but if you don't share these you won't be able to eat anything else. Crispy outside, almost creamy inside. Think conch fritter with bacon.

Shrimp and Grits - The shrimp was fine...but those grits were amazing. Specially ground very large (think oatmeal) they had a great texture.

Soft Shell Crab Po-Boy - Another HUGE dish (this on the medium list), was quickly demolished.

Easy to see why this is a local favorite. Definitely worth a return trip

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This is not going to be my best writing, but I want to get something out there about MoKoMandy because if I don't do it now, I won't find the time tomorrow.

I went to MoKoMandy for the first time this evening based on recommendations from everyone here, and I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised. This restaurant has so many strengths going for it, one of which is Thomas Roberts (their Head Mixologist-Bartender in everything but name ("We're kind of like Google here," he said. "Nobody has any titles."))

At the tippy-top of the menu are various panchan ($3 each, 3 for $7), and I asked for one that was kimchi-based, and the other two chef's choice. I was served the Kimchi Pancakes (wonderful little disks, surrounding a soy sauce-like dip), Fried Kale Chips, and Fried Pork Rinds. For $7, this was a steal, but maybe a bit too oil-based for my personal tastes on this evening (the kale (very Rasika-like in spirit) was pretty salty, and the pork rinds were, well, pork rinds, and I only chose to finish about half of each but at $2.33 per dish, so what). Based on SeanMike's glowing blog post (I trust SeanMike's taste in cocktails, particularly Negronis, blindly and without any hesitation whatsoever), ordered Thomas's variant on a Negoni, the New Twist On A Classic ($12) with Plymouth Gin, Aperol, Fusion Rouge Verjus, and Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters. This cocktail was very fine with the heavier banchan, and the twelve-dollar price tag is commensurate with quality. Thomas also served me three different house made hot sauces (for lack of a better memory (I wasn't taking notes), I'll say, "two red and one green," all worth trying).

Gator croquettes -- awesome, with nice bacon and bechamel sauce.

croquettes: Nicely fried, and the sauce was a little spicier than I remembered

Gator Croquettes - listed on the small plates, but if you don't share these you won't be able to eat anything else. Crispy outside, almost creamy inside. Think conch fritter with bacon.

Last night at Mintwood Place (the dorade being every bit as compelling as it was on my previous visit - please do yourself a favor and order this), I discovered a new love: the Founder's Red's Rye P.A. ($7 at Mintwood, $6 at MoKoMandy) which was perfect with the Gator Croquettes ($8), heavy and drug-like, with house-made bacon, béchamel, and sauce picante. A rich, satisfying, and certainly very filling small plate for a solo diner.

Thomas had earned my complete confidence at this point (he used to be at Rustico, and helped write the opening beer list at Churchkey), so I asked him to pick me something similar to the Rye P.A., but different. He asked if I minded a large bottle? I knew this would be my final drink of the evening, but said absolutely, and was rewarded by a Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale ($20), a black IPA with all the right components (more-and-more, I'm finding that my "home" in beers are darker-colored, medium-bodied, malty beers with overtones of herbs and citrus - to point out the obvious, color is very deceiving in beer; yet, I'm convinced it still scares people away - a darker hue is less aggressive than a hoppy nose, at least to me). I also asked for one more small dish, lighter in spirit because, well, I'm a fatty, and I knew in advance that the beer would not be a perfect match and that it was my own doing. Tile Fish and Local Crab Macque Choux ($14) was very fine, with corn, buttery corn, as its primary component, scattered about with crab shreds, and encompassing two nugget-sized pieces of lovely tile fish.

Other than the Kimchi Pancakes, and the sauces, this food was more Cajun than Korean, but that's almost random - you can do whatever you'd like here. Wines are inexpensive by the bottle, and both the beer and cocktail selection is fabulous.

Gentle readers, please prod me a bit more sharply when I clearly miss things such as this suburban strip-mall gem run by Thomas, Chef de Cuisine Daniel Wilcox Stephens (a friendly CIA grad who came out and said hello, perhaps appreciative of an open-minded diner who had confidence to turn himself over to the kitchen), owner Thaddeus Kim, and of course, "Mandy," Kim's mother and co-owner. And shame on me for not having initiated MoKoMandy in the Dining Guide in Italic which is almost surely where it has belonged all along.

Cheers,

Rocks

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Another great meal for the family at Mokomandy this past Saturday evening. I loved the Cosmo-esque craft cocktail made with pineapple syrup and cranberry bitters. Many thanks to our server Erin who stepped behind the bar (where you can find her on Wednesday nights) to make me the perfectly pale pink cocktail. The rest of the clan stuck to the beer menu. I can't keep up with the choices they make, but they do particularly enjoy the large format bottles that are available.

Many new dishes have debuted on the menu since our last trip out to Great Falls Plaza. There was not a single dish that disappointed, but there were a few stand-outs. We ordered a round of small plates followed by a round of medium sized plates. Our selections in order of preference were:

Round 1: Small Plates - Most notably, the dumplings were a huge hit. The foie gras dumplings slightly edged out the tuna dumplings from the Surf & Turf dumpling selection. The deviled eggs were next on our list of favorites followed by a split decision between the carpaccio and the potroast sliders.

Round 2: Medium Plates - The Korean scallops were the big winners on this round. Don't tell Thad, but that dish really belongs on the "large" sized list since it's a more generous serving of scallops than you will see on the entrees of most restaurants in town. I caved and ordered the same dish I had last time, I couldn't help myself, I'm a sucker for shrimp and grits and this version was smokey and rich, taking the second spot in our table ranking. I really enjoyed the Korean noodle dish served with mushrooms and other stuff that I cannot recall, but it sat behind the seafood on this day as far as the group was concerned. Finally, the wild boar bowl which we loved so much on our last visit fell to the bottom of the ranking this time around. It still boasts a perfectly cooked egg which oozes all over the contents when pricked with a fork, but the flavors were a bit less rounded this time, just not as clean and elegant as the other choices we made.

We shared a trio of deserts. The white chocolate cheesecake and beignets were delicious. The creme brulee was okay, I thought the custard could have been a bit thicker.

Overall, I can't offer enough high praise to this hardworking team that turn out really innovative and high quality dishes from a modest suburban strip mall location. The vibe is definitely casual, but this is serious food.

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Wanted to show this place some DR love. My wife and I are pseudo-regulars, and they really take care of us. They knew we were coming in this past weekend, and realized that they were out of our go-to red wine. So even though the owner was of for the night, he had worked it out in advance with the lead waiter to have a suitable replacement ready, reduced down to the price of our regular bottle!

If you live in Northern Virginia and haven't tried this place, you must. The menu continues to evolve, but current favorites include some long-running staples: Put Roast sliders, Modern Korean Scallops, Boar Bowl and Bulgogi Beef.

Cocktail list is solid and original without being over-the-top cheesy. Excellent beer and wine lists.

Seriously, give it a shot, worth any drive you may have.

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