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50 Best Restaurants: Malaysian Kopitiam’s move from DC to NoVA pays off

This Centreville spot is home to a long menu, flush with various rice and noodle dishes in soups and sauces, and a unique take on mochi.

Photo by Rey Lopez

By Stefanie Gans and Rina Rapuano

Malaysian Kopitiam

Centreville | Malaysian | $$

We all swore we’d never do it. We were young and cool and lived in the city. And then … life. And here we are in the suburban sprawl of Fairfax County. Luckily, Malaysian Kopitiam made the move, too.

Photo by Rey Lopez

What was once a restaurant on the edge of downtown and Dupont Circle, is the same core restaurant (so is that city kid in a suburban parent body!), but now in Centreville. Fish puree wrapped in a sheet of tofu is fried to a crinkly, puffy, silky texture; it’s magical, like if tissue paper were edible. The long menu is flush with various rice and noodle dishes in various soups and sauces, like the curry laksa and mee goreng, and they all find ways to taste both comforting and electric.

Photo by Rey Lopez

And for dessert, forget what you know about mochi. Here it’s something different: a warm sphere stuffed with sesame paste and coated with crushed peanuts and sugar, and it’s salty and savory with a blast of nutty richness. It’s the first time in many years of dining that the phrase uttered by the server—“It’s not ice cream”—came not as a disappointment. // 5085 Westfields Blvd., Centreville

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

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