Posted by Eliana Reyes / Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
If turkey-baking and stuffing-making aren’t your thing, Northern Virginia restaurants can help.
Posted by Eliana Reyes / Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
Pumpkin patch too far for your fall cravings? Don’t feel like making your own treats? We got you covered.
Though traditional Lebanese kibbeh is made of ground meat, Lebanese Taverna is releasing a vegetarian-friendly version. Pumpkin and spinach replace the meat, bolstered instead by chickpeas and a hint of lemon./ Multiple NoVA Locations
Buzz Bakery now stocks a pumpkin doughnut, finished with a ginger glaze and sprinkled with candied pepitas. For those who are so-over doughnuts, a pumpkin toffee muffin and pumpkin cupcakes topped with buttercream frosting are also in stock. More thirsty than hungry? The pumpkin latte, like all the other products, is made with real pumpkin. / Multiple NoVA Locations
Toasted pumpkin seeds tossed in chipotle and olive oil star on Open Kitchen‘s “Nibbles” menu. Don’t want them alone? These seasonal treats also taste great atop the restaurant’s roasted monkfish and as stuffing for the chicken quesadillas. / 7115 Leesbufg Pike, Falls Church.
TREAT Read the rest of this entry »
Why should humans have all the fun? Cupcaked Bakery offers pumpkin peanut butter dog treats that are wheat-free for Fido. May we suggest the name “Pupkin?” / 12644 Chapel Road, Clifton.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Molly Jacob / Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
Buy one, get one free for any lobster lunch entree at 2941 for the rest of July. [Eater]
From the people who brought you Nutella, here’s a new cookbook due out in August with 30 recipes for the wonderful hazelnut spread (wait, there’s a way to eat it besides straight out of the jar?).
#FREE Celebrate Occasionally Cake‘s 4th anniversary on July 21 with a free snickerdoodle or chocolate marshmallow cupcake. [Patch]
For the foodie with six months of stored up vacation time: eat at every 3-star Michelin restaurant in the world for $275,000. [Business Insider]
Washington, D.C. makes the top ten list of cities that eat the most ice cream. I mean, with this heat wave, duh. [HuffPo]
An ode to cartoon food, as told by Tumblr. [Thrillist]
How to get by on minimum wage, courtesy of McDonald’s. [Death and Taxes]
Posted by Molly Jacob / Friday, July 5th, 2013
Sometimes, mint chocolate chip from the local supermarket ain’t gonna cut it. The best ice cream pints that can be ordered online are overnight-delivery-rate worthy. [HuffPo]
The Washington Post profiles Mark Warmuth, a businessman who transformed Alexandria’s M.E. Swing Coffee Roasters into a specialty coffee shop. [WaPo]
Did any of these make an appearance at your Fourth of July cookout? Will Gordon pokes fun at the 36 cheapest American beers. [Deadspin]
The holiday weekend has only begun: Tuscarora Mill continues the festivities tonight at 5:30 p.m. with drinks, barbecue and rock n’ roll. Make sure to keep up with NoVA food happenings with our July calendar in order to have the most scrumptious summer ever.
Among the nutrition facts for America’s Worst Meal: two weeks worth of trans fat, 37 grams of sodium and 1,320 calories. Long John Silver’s, are you trying to kill us? [Time]
By Maddy Berner
No matter the time of day, or diet you’re on, everyone craves the sweet, decadent taste of dessert. Thankfully, the Northern Virginia area is teeming with various sprinkled delights. From fro-yo to giant cupcakes, use your lunch break to explore only the newest and most delicious in dessert fashion. Only the finest sweet shops take residence in NoVA, and we categorized the best by location to help you get to know them.
Something to remember: Larger chains often have multiple locations in the NoVA area. If you see a shop you want to try, look for it in a community closer to you.
*Know of a bakery or cafe that’s absolutely delicious but isn’t featured on here yet? Leave a comment below and we’ll keep updating as we discover new places!
Take a baking class and learn how to make these decadent treats, or simply shop the menu for an array of cakes, tarts and bars. Each one is made with the utmost care by Deirdre Parker, who has been in the business for years. Just Desserts also offers seasonal sweets, as well as catering services./ Alexandria; 703-801-6325; justdessertsva.com
Lavender Moon Cupcakery
Blood Orange Dreamsicle, Mexican Chocolate Pudding – it’s obvious this bake shop has a knack for uniquely-flavored cupcakes. Some online reviewers say it’s the best in the NoVA and D.C. area with their intensely moist, sweet cakes and decadent frosting./ 116 South Royal St., Alexandria; 703-683-0588; www.alexandriacupcake.com
This shop calls itself a cupcake boutique bakery, complete with European style décor. But the real treat is the cupcakes, which are heavenly in their simplicity and taste. Their daily flavors include dark chocolate and red velvet, but call ahead to see if they’re serving their PB&J or rosewater cupcake./1022 King St., Alexandria.; 703-299-9099; www.alexandriacupcake.com
Alexandria Pastry Shop
Not only does this Alexandria staple offer gluten-free, sugar-free and allergy sensitive specialties, but they use locally-grown produce and European chocolate in their batters. They even offer seasonal treats like gingerbread and pumpkin bread. With wedding cake and catering services available, this place seems like the one-stop shop for all your sugary desires./ Bradley Shopping Center, 3690-H, King St., Alexandria.; 703-578-4144; alexandriapastry.com
Buzz Bakery and Lounge
You’ll feel like you stepped into a sweet treat wonderland at Buzz Bakery. Go early for breakfast, or stop in the afternoon to browse their cupcakes, pies and cookies. Then, come back at night where comfortable couches and intimate table settings make a hot spot for romance./ 901 Slaters Lane, Alexandria.; 703-600-2899; www.buzzbakery.com
Hollin Hall Pastry Shop
Hollin Hall has won numerous awards for their take on weddings cakes and other pastries. Not only do they offer your typical treats, but they also sell a variety of decadent mousses in flavors you probably won’t find anywhere else. See what 30-year pastry veteran Mel Meadows is cooking up!/ 7920 Fort Hunt Road, Alexandria.;703-768-9643; www.hollinhallpastry.com.
Yes, this café and catering company offers a variety of cupcake combinations – coconut cake with lemon buttercream, anyone? But they also serve savory cupcakes like mini lasagnas and mac n’ cheese. But if you’re going for sweet, try their Kahlua mocha trifle, lemon cloud mousse, or others. The possibilities are endless./ 823 King St., Alexandria.; 703-549-1028; www.bittersweetcatering.com.
The Dairy Godmother
Professionally-trained and lover all things sweet and fluffy – Liz Davis has created a unique place for custard lovers. Check online for her Flavor of the Day (sometimes Mexican chocolate or summer pudding), then purchase a homemade dog treat for your furry pal. Both man and man’s best friend will not be able to resist her original family-style desserts./ 2310 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria.; 703-683-7767; www.thedairygodmother.com.
Rita’s Italian Ice
Combine Italian ice and custard and you have Rita’s. This chain is a favorite amongst many in the area, especially on a scorching hot day. Their menu contains every frozen treat you can think of, with toppings to mix into each one. Go classic with an Italian ice, or load up on the mix-ins with a creamy custard Blendini./ Alexandria Plaza 6242-C, Little River Turnpike, Alexandria.; 703-256-RITA; www.ritasice.com.
The real Cake Bosses are right here in town and they have a custom-made cake for any occasion. Choose from a variety of more than 100 flavors including carrot cake, cookies n’ cream, fuzzy navel, red velvet and tiramisu and let these artists work their magic for birthdays, weddings or even dessert (cupcakes). / 8859 Richmond Highway, Alexandria; 703-780-2253; occasionallycake.com
Red Velvet Cupcakery
This bake shop recently came to the Clarendon area in 2011. Using locally grown ingredients, their cupcakes are moist, fresh and decadent. They even donate their leftovers to shelters and organizations in the area. Suggestion? Try the red velvet. It’s ultra-sweet and, of course, a classic./ 3035 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington.;703-243-5660; www.redvelvetcupcakery.com.
Another popular chain bake shop is Crumbs, also located in Clarendon. They sell brownies, muffins and cakes, but they are known for their giant-sized cupcakes, which can easily feed two or more with their abundance of frosting and taste. Buy one to split in flavors such as Key Lime and Dulce de Leche./ 2839 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington.; 703-5244001; www.crumbs.com.
Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt
The Arlington location of this fro-yo giant just opened a few years ago, but has become successful in luring in customers with their unique and healthy toppings. Choose a base flavor then pile on syrups and toppings. These guys promise you’ll feel light and refreshed – just like their yogurt./ 2930 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington.;703-312-9433; www.pinkberry.com
When you walk into this quaint gelato and coffee shop, you’ll think the ice cream looks too good to eat. Take a bite into rich flavors like cake batter and banana or request your own idea for a creamy concoction on their chalkboard. Fun, different and deliciously authentic./ 2719 Wilson Blvd., Arlington.; 703-869-6522; www.boccato.com
Hiedelberg Pastry Shoppe
Hailing from Germany, Heidelberg’s authentic treats have public officials from all over the area coming for more. Since 1975, the Büchlers have been serving desserts that satisfy both sides of the Atlantic. Take a number and enjoy complimentary coffee while waiting for you order./ 2150 N. Culpeper St., Arlington.; 703-527-8394; www.heidelbergbakery.com
Pastries by Randolph
This local favorite takes pride in their dedication to dessert. Cakes of all shapes and flavors are available and can be custom-made. They also offer pastries like petit fours, chocolate dipped strawberries and small tea cookies. These guys keep it real and keep customers coming back./ 4500 Lee Highway, Arlington.; 703-243-0070; www.pastriesbyrandolph.com
For authentic Armenian desserts, Arax Café reigns supreme. Ice cream and sweet treats like baklava are popular, and often reflect the season. Summery flavors like mango and coconut will relieve you on a hot day, but the friendly customer service will stick with you forever./ 5852 N. Washington Blvd., Arlington.; 703-532-3320.
We gave them a “Best of NoVA” award for their cupcakes, but the sister/owners’ passion and dedication to flavor speaks for itself. We’re not sure where to start on their menu – with choices such as pistachio, orange and blackberry – but their decadent vanilla and chocolate cupcakes are surefire winners./ 11944 Grand Commons Ave., Fairfax.; 571-522-6315; cupcakesactually.com
Prize-winning cheesecakes and sculpted cakes make this dessert shop well-known and divine for those with a serious sweet tooth. Owner Kimberly works tirelessly to decorate cakes for any occasion, making sure even smaller treats like cookies and cake pops are original and baked to perfection./ 13140 Madonna Lane, Fairfax.;703-362-8942; www.simplydessertsonline.com
Breeze Bakery Cafe
Annandale and Centreville might be Koreatown with their endless options of BBQ’ed bulgogi and H Marts, but sometimes it can be hard to find a good Asian bakery. Breeze satisfies this need with its desserts, including sweet potato cakes, Bing Soo (gelato) and bubble tea. Plus, it’s open until midnight all week just in case your date at Honey Pig runs late. So grab a bite, then relax on the upstairs deck with friends – and forget you’re in Annandale at all! / 4125 Hummer Road, Annandale; 703-462-9093; breezebakery.com
The Swiss Bakery and Pastry Shop
Guten Tag! If you’re looking for a place to score decadent German sweets without dealing with pesky customs, look no further. The Swiss Bakery, with locations in Springfield and Burke, offers European chocolates, fresh-baked pastries and wine and beer from across the pond. Tschüß! / Ravensworth Shopping Center, 5224 Port Royal Road, Springfield; 703-321-3670; Burke Town Plaza, 9536 Old Keene Mill, Burke; 703-569-3670; swissbakery.com
Pound cake, scones and delicate tea desserts separate this bakery from your normal cake shop. Of course, the classic wedding cake option is also available, with flavors like lemon and almond on hand. Look for the quaint red shutters outside this welcoming dessert establishment./ 10430 Main St., Fairfax; 703-273-0800; www.victoriascakeryinc.com
For an Asian spin on American classics, visit Shilla for their successful blend of both. The staff has traveled to countries like Japan and South Korea, looking for that hot new dessert trend. Their website even contains a section for new products. Ever heard of melon bread? Read more online!/ 10940 Fairfax Blvd. Suite E-F, Fairfax.; 703-691-1171; intelisystemstest.com/shilla
Owner and founder David Behnam has been in the business for 30 years, whipping up custom wedding cakes, pies and cheesecakes. Converse with the friendly staff, sip coffee and browse whatever seasonal flavors this award-winning bakery is offering at the time./ 9557 Braddock Road, Fairfax.; 703-426-7202; www.theuniquebakery.com
Customers online rave about the dozens of gelato options available here. Everything is made fresh, including a warm waffle or French crepe to accompany to your frozen delight. Flavors include strawberry, tiramisu, hazelnut and coconut./ 9432 Main St., Fairfax.; 703-978-2112.
Woody’s Ice Cream
It’s a simple, classic ice cream shop taking residence in the 21st century. Get freshly-made soft-serve ice cream in a cone, dipped in chocolate, or over a brownie. Splurge for a milkshake in flavors like peanut butter and black cherry. Only open for the summer!/ 10435 North St, Fairfax.; 703-277-9553; www.woodysicecream.com
Vina Café Bakery
This dessert shop was originally a Chinese bakery, but the family updated it to include a fusion of eastern and western flavors. They now serve Taiwanese-style buns, Vietnamese-style pastries and of course, all-American cakes./ 3900-C Pickett Road, Fairfax.; 703-239-2828; www.vinacafebakery.com
Dulce’s Bakery and Empanada Shop
Entering this dessert shop will transport you south to the rich culture of Latin America. Grab an authentic empanada – sweet or savory – then try with one of their cupcakes or cookies. These guys are longtime NoVA locals, and are dedicated on bringing their unique flavors to you./ 3900-C Pickett Road, Fairfax.; 703-978-8021; dulcesbakery.com
A quick milkshake fix can be satisfied at this small, intimate shop in Falls Church. They serve sandwiches as well, but the ice cream and milkshakes are too creamy and sweet to pass up. Try the coconut and taste actual slivers of roasted coconut mixed inside./ 110 N. West St., Falls Church.; 703-525-4960.
The Mirage Café
We have to ask: who hasn’t had a craving for the honeyed, crunchy taste of baklava? Thankfully, Falls Church has The Mirage, a restaurant and bakery that specializes in the Middle Eastern dessert. Order this freshly-made pastry in bulk, along with a variety of other treats packed with nuts from Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan. Try the balooria, basma or maamoul./ 5916 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church.; 703-845-1600; www.miragesweets.com/.
Frozen Dairy Bar and Boardwalk Pizza
This frozen custard shop has changed a lot since opening in 1950. But through it all, it continues to deliver some of the creamiest and most genuine ice cream in the NoVA area. There’s a lot of history in this place, so grab a cone and enjoy that old-timey atmosphere./ 6641 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church.; 703-534-4200; www.fdbpizza.com
Natalia’s Elegant Creations
Voted best bakery, coffee shop and lunch spot in Falls Church – you simply can’t miss out on the sweet and savory items offered at Natalia’s. This quaint little café specializes in fresh, high-quality products that can be vegan and/or gluten-free. Their gourmet cupcakes almost look too pretty to eat and their various tortes will have your mouth quivering for more./ 230 West Broad St., Falls Church; 703-241-8040; www.nataliaselegantcreations.com/.
Mom’s Apple Pie Company
Experience the warm, comfortable feeling whenever you dive into an apple pie again and again – and without preservatives. All your favorites are featured on the menu, including stand-outs like almond amaretto, peach and the ever-classic apple. Their blackberry pie was even voted one of the best in the south by Southern Living Magazine. Breads and cookies are also available./ 126 A Commerce St., Occoquan; 703-497-7437; 220 Loudoun St., SE, Leesburg.; 703-771-8590; http://www.momsapplepieco.com/.
A cupcakery “that delivers to you” sounds almost perfect to us, but it’s the variety of cupcake flavors that seal the deal. Come in every day for a different selection: Snicker’s, Coconut, Watermelon, Maple Bacon and Pistachio – just to name a few. And this place loves to support the community, so choose them next time you want to host a party or school event!/ 12801 Galveston Court, Manassas.;703-670-6639; http://www.confectionsonline.com/.
Danielle and her baking expertise have been featured on multiple news outlets, which proves just how divine and delicious her treats really are. Layer cakes, pies and cookies, among others, sprinkle the menu. She even offers gluten-free desserts, enjoyed in a warm and inviting atmosphere./ 2001 International Drive, McLean.; 703-442-4096; http://www.daniellesdesserts.com/.
Reston and Herndon
Edibles Incredible Desserts
To start, the cake designs featured at this shop are one-of-a-kind and impressive – we would know, we’ve featured them in our magazine twice! Past the cakes are cool confections like gourmet truffles, rich fudge and of course, cupcakes topped with loads of frosting./ 11917 Freedom Drive, Reston.;703-709-8200; www.ediblesincredible.com
The CupCake Ladi
“Superior quality, superior taste,” is what the CupCake Ladi says about her organic cupcakes. They’re made with certified organic ingredients, meaning their great taste will leave an equally great feeling in your stomach. One NoVA Mag reader says you haven’t lived until you try her Moo Moo Moo Cow cupcake, but there are so many options, you’ll be itching to try them all!/11412 West Washington Plaza, Reston.; 703-787-6775; http://www.thecupcakeladi.com/.
Milwaukee Frozen Custard
If you thought there were only two flavors of custard, think again. Milwaukee serves more of them than we can count, with the amount of mouth-watering toppings surpassing even that. Creamy custard is mixed with crumbs and glazes to create blends like s’mores, lemon meringue pie and pumpkin pie./ 300 Elden St., Herndon.;703-467-0900; www.milwaukeefrozencustard.com
This chain claims they use only the freshest ingredients, such as grass-fed cow milk and free-range eggs, which they often import themselves. Their shop serves flavors ranging from sweet to tart, all with an authentic Italian twist. Pitango customers deserve the best of the best, and the gelato definitely delivers it./ 11942 Democracy Drive, Reston.;703-606-9906; www.pitangogelato.com
Always fresh and always handmade – that’s something promised by Chesapeake Chocolates. This dessert shop specializes in chocolate truffles, bark and shapes, making sure to add a little texture with nuts, dried fruit and toffee. Stop into this family-owned location for your next Valentine’s Day gift. They make it personal./ 11426 Washington Plaza West, Reston.; 703-620-0082; www.cheschoc.com
Nielsen’s Frozen Custard
Nielsen’s ice cream feels like melted butter on the tongue– smooth, creamy and oh, so good. There are loads of fun toppings to choose from, but nothing is wrong with going au natural. Made fresh every few hours, this frozen treat is hard to beat./ 144 Church St. NW, Vienna.; 703-255-5553.
An ever-increasing demand for sweets caused this bakery to relocate not once, but twice! Amphora now employs over 20 experienced bakers, chefs and designers to bring the rich taste of Europe to every bread and pastry on the shelf./ 405 Maple Ave. West, Vienna.; 703-281-5631; www.amphorabakery.com
The name of this cupcakery speaks for itself. Simple, elegant and just plain delicious – if that’s what you’re looking for, then Cupcakes! makes it easy. Choose from cupcakes of the classic variety, or change it up with lemon blueberry and pumpkin./ 527 Maple Ave. West, Vienna.;703-938-3034; www.cupcakescupcakery.com
Sweet City Desserts
The concept of this shop was to allow customers to watch the pastry chefs as they work. They can order any of the Filipino-style desserts, then relax in the lounge area surrounded by free Wi-fi and soft music. Try a purple yam cupcake first, it’s just one of many unique flavors there./ 131-A Maple Ave. West, Vienna.; 703-938-8188; sweetcitydesserts.co
The Pie Gourmet
If you thought you knew every type of pie, think again. The Pie Gourmet offers dozens more, as well as specialty cakes, cheesecakes and other desserts. Check out the photos of each pie, then choose the right flavor for any occasion. It’s guaranteed to delight the taste buds./ 507 Maple Ave. West, Vienna.; 703-281-7437; www.piegourmet.com
Cenan’s Baked Goods
Stop into Cenan’s for a sandwich, but stay for their array of homemade pastries, including delights like brioche, meringues and Turkish delights that are authentic and sweet. Cenan himself promises hearty, fresh bread every morning, without the icky preservatives./ 122 Branch Road SE, Vienna.; 703-242-0070; www.cenansbakery.com
Since 1986 Yas has been supplying Vienna with delicious Persian cookies and cakes. If you count yourself among the many baklava lovahs, this market is a must-stop shop. One Yelp reviewer says, “If you’re interested in unique foods, Yas is like a playground.” / 137 Church St. NW, Vienna; 703-242-4050; yasbakery.com
A patisserie (often spelled with a miniature rooftop accent thing over the ‘a’) is a French or Belgian bakery that specializes in pastries and sweets. This family-owned hidden gem boasts a selection of tempting desserts that will have you packing on the pounds if you’re not too careful with their marzipan, creme brulee and macaroons. There’s even key lime pie, which is undeniably hard to find in NoVA. / 167 Glyndon St. SE, Vienna; 703-255-6880; silvaspatisserie.com
Posted by Stefanie Gans, Dining Editor / Friday, July 13th, 2012
Posted by Cherise Fantus / Friday, July 6th, 2012
What is it about ice cream that instantly puts a smile on just about anyone’s face? Is it the sweet, creamy texture? Is it the fact that you can get it in just about any flavor you want, plus add toppings? Is it the fact that it can help cool you down on a hot day? Yes.
Now that your mouth is watering, satisfy your ice cream craving tomorrow. I’ll give you two options.
4th Annual Ice Cream Social
12 p.m.; Workhouse Arts Center
9601 Ox Road, Lorton
It’s not just ice cream; it’s art. Your $15 donation will get you a handmade bowl made by one of the students, instructors or resident artists from the Workhouse Arts Center, and that bowl will be filled with ice cream donated by Hershey’s or Giant Food. A choice of toppings will also be provided. There will be pony rides and performances by the local band, State of Mind, and the Little Dancers class from Workhouse. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Lorton Arts Foundation and the Workhouse Ceramics Program.
Ice Cream Making at Colvin Run Mill
12-3 p.m.; Colvin Run Mill
10017 Colvin Run Road, Great Falls
Speaking of creating, Colvin Run Mill lets you make your own ice cream on Saturdays because somehow, it just tastes a little sweeter when you’ve made it yourself. While you’re there, explore the grounds that reflect a simpler time or take a leisurely stroll in the woods.
Posted by Lorin Drinkard / Friday, May 25th, 2012
It’s come down to this: you have a fantastic four-day weekend in front of you (can I get an amen!) but you don’t really want to venture out into the massive holiday crowds. Totally understandable. If this is you, not to fret. Here are a few ideas of celebrating the long weekend a la air conditioning.
Throw a potluck/picnic in your living room. Forgo obvious picnic spots for an in-home feast. Try out one of these recipes plus a red, white and blue dessert and just relax, knowing there’s no group of tourists moving in on your spot. Or a line for the bathroom.
Download a playlist and dance the day/night away. Don’t think all the best parties are out in the city. You can easily transform your extra guest room/living room/den into a musical extravaganza with the help of some hot tunes (check out here, here and here to get you started).
Have a Glamour shots-style photo shoot. Get the family together and take some fun shots. It’s never too early to get the dreaded Christmas card photo out of the way or to sport your patriotic pride.
Jump in your car and spend the day fro-yo hopping. You’ve heard of progressive dinners? Same concept, only with one course in mind: d-e-s-s-e-r-t. Check out our Dining Desk’s Freeze Jag for a month’s worth of NoVA’s yummiest ice cream treats.
Posted by Sally Traynham / Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
Free ice cream anyone?
In celebration of scooping ice cream for 34 years, today (April 3) is Ben & Jerry’s annual free cone day!
This year, along with all of their funky flavors that feature everything from chocolate-covered potato chips to yellow cake pieces, they are also offering up Ben & Jerry’s Greek Frozen Yogurt, their newest creation.
Officially released in February, this take on trendy Greek yogurt craze comes in four flavors: Banana Peanut Butter, Blueberry Vanilla Graham, Raspberry Fudge Chunk and Strawberry Shortcake. Whether it is actually healthier for you is still up in the air.
Share your favorite flavor below and click here to find the closet Ben & Jerry’s near you!
[tips for the food desk]
Posted by The Editorial Desk / Thursday, October 27th, 2011
This week I went to Izakaya Blue Ocean in Fairfax for a great sushi lunch. I had read amazing things about this place online–I’m a big fan of Yelp “research” and like to read reviews of most places I go. The first Yelp comment for Blue Ocean was: “This place is legit.”
Not quite sure what to expect from that, I walked and instantly knew what the comment meant. In Fairfax’s Pickett Shopping Center, with a Chuck E Cheese’s and Dollar Tree, I would have never picked out the lettering of BLUE OCEAN and even think of walking in the place. But man, am I glad I did.
For 2 p.m. on a Tuesday, I was expecting an empty restaurant with one or two lingering waiters. But as soon as I walked in through the door, I was surprised by the bustling scene, loud talk and laughter and some lively instrumental music that was oddly fitting. There was a table in the back with a large party of Japanese women, which I took as a great sign. (Yes, I know this is a bit presumptuous, but I try to be observant and I’m a firm believer that an ethnic restaurant is especially good if there are people of that ethnicity eating in it; I knew the women were Japanese because I heard them speaking Japanese to the wait staff.)
I sat at the sushi bar and saw in another corner of the restaurant an old Japanese woman who sat eating by herself–she looked to be at least 95 years old, packing down a plate of steaming hot food, and from what I picked up she was most definitely a regular. I relished in the endearing moment, thinking how I loved the vibes of this Izakaya already, and then was immediately brought a hot bowl of miso soup as I looked over the menu, which my growling stomach and I were very appreciative of. Adding to my experience, the sushi chef was very friendly and pleasant to chat with.
After I finished my lunch (I went for the maki—an E.T.A. roll (eel, tobiko, avocado) and a crunchy salmon roll; both were delicious) the waitress brought over a little complimentary dessert with my bill. It was a small, green, round ball of ice cream inside Japanese mochi, a glutinous rice cake that’s soft and chewy, (and, in my opinion, doesn’t have too much flavor on its own, but stuffed with green tea ice cream it was amazing). Such great texture of chewiness and cool, silky and sweet ice cream.
I asked the waitress if they make these mochi creations in-house or if I could (hopefully) buy them somewhere, but the waitress told me that they order them online from a distributor in New York. I hoped my memory of the mochi ice cream would last, and told myself I would definitely be back to Blue Ocean again.
After lunch I went next door to Trader Joe’s to do some grocery shopping. Roaming the frozen isle, I couldn’t believe what I stumbled upon…mochi ice cream! Go figure. I was tempted to buy the box and run back next door to Blue Ocean, even though they were closed for lunch, to show them my excitement of what Trader Joe’s had.
I laughed at the irony of the Trader Joe’s next door selling what I marveled over inside the gem of Blue Ocean’s Japanese haven, and of course, bought the strawberry mochi (the only variety they had) to hold me over until my next visit.