50 Best Restaurants: Mokomandy snags the No. 1 spot with its Cajun and Korean mashup

Mokomandy has been in business for almost a decade. Here’s why we chose it as the No. 1 best restaurant in Northern Virginia.

Hearty bison dumplings decorated in dainty flora at Mokomandy (Photo by Rey Lopez)

By Stefanie Gans and Rina Rapuano

Sterling | Cajun & Korean | $$

Cajun and Korean coming from the same kitchen doesn’t quite make sense—that is, until you try it. Imagine shrimp and grits plunked down next to a bowl of Korean-style dumplings filled with local bison poking through the surface of an umami-rich red broth, and the combination all starts to come together. What these regions lack in proximity, they make up for with their reputations as being flavor powerhouses.

Photo by Rey Lopez

A glance around the dining room reveals that if anyone had misgivings about the cultural mashup, they’ve clearly gotten over it in the nearly 10 years Mokomandy has been in business. The strip-mall restaurant—warmed by friendly and helpful service—serves its staples, as wide-ranging as foie gras dumplings, Korean ssam and Cajun cassoulet.

This post originally appeared in our November 2019 issue’s 50 Best Restaurants cover story. For more food reviews, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

Photo by Rey Lopez

Other hits from a menu so extensive that makes it tough to choose include stuffed mushrooms with caramelized onions and garlic (and no small amount of butter); skewers of grilled baby octopus and pork belly; and a bowl of poutine gilded with house-cured bacon that was nearly licked clean.

To take the indulgence train all the way to the end of the line, find yourself a designated driver and order any cocktail that strikes your fancy—from the Spring Awakening, a dangerously drinkable blend of gin, herbs, flowers and ginger, to a boozy and broody Sazerac enhanced with housemade coffee syrup.

Photo by Rey Lopez

The reasons for its longevity are apparent in every joyful bite, in servers that are so capable they’re nearly clairvoyant (how did she know we were planning on ordering that after-dinner coffee?), and in the happy faces of the couples and groups of friends who clearly know the value of Mokomandy. Diners leave well-fed and kindly cared for, and feeling a bit like they just caught It’s a Wonderful Life on TV. Is there any better dining experience? // 20789 Great Falls Plaza, Suite 176, Sterling

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