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Bento Box, Reston, Virginia January 27, 2016

Posted by hslu in Food, Restaurants.
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Bento Box is a cheap Japanese restaurant serving popular Japanese dishes such as teriyaki, sushi, sashimi, ramen, salad and appetizers. Selections are limited: 5 teriyakis, 2 ramens and no more than 10 varieties of sushi and sashimi. Appetizers include gyoza, edamame, tempura and takoyaki.

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Service is McDonald’s style with orders taken at the counter and served in disposable containers, plastic utensils and chopsticks. It opens at 10 in the morning, earlier than most fast food joints.

Chicken teriyaki delux (with spring roll and California rolls)was okay. Rice was a bit dry and it needed more teriyaki sauce. The non-spicy ramen was only so-so and the broth wasn’t impressive either. I won’t order it again because it wasn’t worth the $11 price tag.

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The restaurant is located at the Home Depot Shopping Center. This location has changed hands many times. Hope Bento Box can survive at this location.

We got in before 11 am on a Wednesday morning and we didn’t see any other customer except a cop ordering his teriyaki takeout.

We

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Not Your Average Joe‘s,Reston Town Center January 24, 2016

Posted by hslu in Food, Restaurants.
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Macaroni Grill used to occupy this location for years. We liked it a lot and we enjoyed its open-kitchen format and its house wine (Chianti) by the glass too. As casual dinning became popular, the old style formal restaurants like Macaroni Grill were left to die under its own weight. If I had to guess, monthly rent for this ~7,500 square feet restaurant must be over $30,000 a month. One needed to make about $300,000 just to break even.

After Macaroni Grill closed its door for almost a year, we saw construction people in and out of this place for several months. We knew someone brave enough would come to try his luck here.

About 2 weeks ago, Not Your Average Joe’s opened its door and we went to see what it was like. We have been to another NYAJ before and I remembered it was a burger joint.

I was wrong about this location because it was more than a burger place. It was a sports bar offering appetizers, salad, pizza, burgers, sandwiches, pasta, many draft beers from micro breweries and special cocktails.

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We ordered a turkey burger, a three-cheese pistachio pizza and two beers: a blue moon white ale and a dogfish head 60 minutes ipa from Delaware. The two beers were very much different in color and in taste with the 60 minute ipa very hoppy but balanced.

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cheese, hot pepper and olive oil

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Wonderful bread

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Both the turkey burger and pizza were as expected: nothing too special to write home about nor nothing too bad about them either. However, the turkey burger was a bit dry. I guessed what was considered healthy wasn’t supposed to taste good. We have to come back to try their “real” burgers some day.

The restaurant opened about a week ago when we went there. It was very busy and we had to wait for about 20 minutes at 1:30 PM on a weekday. May be NYAJ found the right vibe and people liked their food too.

 

 

 

Neyla, Reston Town Center August 27, 2015

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It used to be Paolo’s which occupied this prime location (next to the Fountain) in Reston Town Center for many years. We’ve been to Paolo’s once but wasn’t very impressed by its food even though the ambiance and service were great.

We came to Reston Town Center earlier this summer and noticed the change of ownership at this location to Neyla which was a surprise to us. The town center was always crowded with people when we visited here. New office and appartment buildings and new restaurants were added on a robust pace. Additionally, the restaurants here seemed to do great business at all times. However, there were some notable failures such as Uno’s, Paolo’s and Macaroni Grill. I guess that high rent in this popular place, change of consumers’ taste, increasing food cost and failed business model forced the owners to shut their operations.

We came back to Reston TC mid-August and had a pleasant lunch at Neyla.

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The service was efficient. Our waiter was very helpful. The host was courteous. The owner (I assumed he’s the owner) stopped by and chat. The food we ordered had heavy Mediterranean influence: olive oil, lemon juice, vegetables, herbs, bread and seafood.

We had Roasted Eggplant with yogurt and raisins,

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stuffed mussels with rice, currants, pine nuts and tomato.

We also shared a pita wrap with heavily seasoned beef, roasted tomato, parsley and red onion.

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The Sauvignon Blanc from Chili was a bit on the high side but the wine was fruity, crispy and refreshing.

All in all, it was delightful and we will be back to try more dishes soon.

Barcelona, Reston Town Center July 21, 2015

Posted by hslu in Food, Restaurants, Travel.
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顧名思義 (read the word and recognize its meaning), it is a tapas place and the Reston Town Center needs one. It is located at the newer section of the town center away from the stage, water fountain and the theater. We noticed the restaurant a few months ago while driving around the town center and decided to see what it is like over the weekend. There were two other restaurants in the same building but we chose Barcelona because I didn’t like tacos no matter how fancy they were made; so Bar Taco was out. The other restaurant, World of Beer, probably offered beers and food that attracted younger crowd.

We have already avoided the peak dining time and arrived there at 9:15 PM on Saturday but we were told that there was a bit of wait: about 30 to 40 minutes. The wait list was long. The bar was filled with rowdy people. Some people were waiting outside and quite a few parties were ahead of us. We walked to the free concert at town center stage for a while and came back to the restaurant. We waited and waited and finally got a small two-top few minutes before 10:00 PM. Looked like a few parties were still waiting outside and there weren’t any empty table at the restaurant.

I ordered a glass of white wine, 2013 Verdejo, from a small town called Nieva. I was offered to taste the wine and made sure I liked it. It was crisp and fruity with a refreshing bouquet. It should be perfect with a humid and still warm Saturday evening in the summer. My wife ordered a glass of white sangria but it was a bit disappointing: she said “kind of like drinking a glass of water.”

Here are our orders:

Serrano & Smoked Trout Paté

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Albondigas: meatballs in tomato sauce

Meatballs were firm with a lot of flavoring The sauce was great with bread.

Meatballs were firm with a lot of flavoring The sauce was great with bread.

Spicy beef empanadas in spicy pepper sauce

Had this at a few other places. Barcelona's were spicier and juicer. The skin was very crispy.

Had this at a few other places. Barcelona’s were spicier and juicer. The skin was very crispy.

Pork Cheek with Pasilla Negro served with braised Scallions and crispy leeks

Tender pork cheek meat melt in your mouth with braised green onion and deep fried leeks。Three different textures.

Tender pork cheek meat melt in your mouth with braised green onion and deep fried leeks。Three different textures.

Juicy and spicy hot.

Juicy and spicy hot.

Kale & Cabbage salad with cheese and pistachios

Sweetness complimented  other tapas dishes nicely.  Pistachios added another layer of flavor. I actually didn't care the cheese though.

Sweetness complimented other tapas dishes nicely. Pistachios added another layer of flavor. I actually didn’t care the cheese though.

For desserts, we had

Spanish Flan

You have to try it yourself.!

You have to try it yourself.!

Crepas Salguero

Dulce de Leche, Chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream

We skipped coffee ($2.50 each) but ordered this instead. We finished all of them. Way too much food for two of us. Again. We did pack some meatballs home though.

We skipped coffee ($2.50 each) but ordered this instead. We finished all of them.
Way too much food for two of us. Again. We did pack some meatballs home though.

 

 

 

Bulletin, Reston Town Center, VA September 3, 2014

Posted by hslu in Food, Restaurants.
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It used to be Pizza Uno, the Chicago Pizza house.

It closed its door a few years ago during the worst days of the Great Recession. It then stood empty for a good while and finally Bulletin came. We went there for a very late night dinner a few weeks ago.

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Well, Bulletin is a family restaurant offering comfort foods. It seemed out of place amid high priced beer joints and fancy Steakhouses. Bulletin even offers breakfast all day long.

Hmm…, with so many parents bringing their kids to the center, maybe Bulletin has a point. Let’s see how long it can last with the kind of rent it is paying now. A price hike coming?

I ordered chicken fried steak and my wife ordered ‘The walk of shame breakfast burrito.’

I used to have chicken fried steak when the company I worked for was still in the poorer section of the Dallas metropolis. We used to go to this small restaurant in Oak Cliff for lunch because it offered the best chicken fried steak that I have ever tasted: big, juicy, hot, crisp on the outside, moist on the inside and topped with a lot of gravy and sprinkled some green onions before bringing it to your table. Oh, did I mention an order of homemade onion rings to go with it?

It was filling, satisfing and to put it mildly extremely unhealthy.

But 3 decades ago, eating healthy food wasn’t on every TV channel day in and day out and organic food hasn’t been invented yet. I wonder if it is still there even though I don’t remember where it was. A couple of years later, our company moved to the affluent section to the north and I stopped going there for a reason. But I still remember its chicken fried steak till this day. And it is the same reason why I still order this not-so-healthy food from time to time.

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About half the size of the one I had in Oak Cliff.

The burrito was huge and the egg inside was tender and tasty but we just couldn’t finish the burrito.

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Well, we will come back when we want breakfast around 10 in the evening. We have stopped going to Silver Dinner around here because they kept changing their menu. And every time a new menu came out, they added  a few new items and jacked up their prices by 4 or 5% hoping people would not notice. Well we finally find a decent joint that will give  SD some much needed competition.

Mon Ami Gabi – Reston Town Center December 16, 2008

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We went to Mon Ami Gabi (My Friend Gabino) for lunch on Friday at around 2:30 in the afternoon. Reston Town Center is a booming shopping and office center about 6 miles from our house in the town of Reston.

The center has gone through several phases of expansion and has recently added four high rise towers, many townhouses, hundreds of thousands of square feet of office space, and at least six new restaurants in the last two years.

The new restaurants included Busaras (Thai), Community Canteen, Il Fornaio Cuina Italiana, Mon Ami Gabi (french), Passion Fish, and Jackson’s Might Fine Food. There is also a Yum Yum cafe which opens from 6 in the morning till 6 in the evening.

Mon Ami Gabi is a French bistro with very reasonable prices and nice food.  It also serves hamburgers and fries; a bit strange for a French restaurant in a high class area. I guess it is aimed to attract lunch crowd from offices near by.

We ordered three appetizers, a main course, 2 cups of coffee and 2 glasses of wine: A Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir.

The appetizers were:

1.   Country Style Pâté with pearl onions, pickles, mustard and some toast.

2.   Warm Duck Confit on a bed of lentils with pearl onions in a balsamic reduction.

3.   Escargots de Bourgogne in garlic-herb butter.

The main course was fresh Spinach and Brie Crepe.

The presentation was very nice but the taste was a bit on the light side. I thought the Escargot and pate could use a bit more salt. Duck Confit was nicely done with tender duck meat and flavorful lentils.

Maria had a glass of 2005 Louis Latour Chardonnay and I ordered a glass of 2006 Louis Latour Pinot Noir. Both were great value for the $6.95 price tag.

Coffee was a bit over priced though: $3.25 each.

Overall, the lunch was a memorable one. we were relaxed and took out time to enjoy the food. We also had the full attention of the wait staff because it was slow time between lunch and dinner.

We will come back with our kids when they come back from NY and San Francisco.

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