Money determines where diners go, how often, what dishes they order – if they even eat out of the house.
Another tough year calls for a different kind of fall restaurant guide. This season, the focus is on restaurants I love that offer distinctive value. As different as they are, they share memorable cuisine, hospitality and a lot for your money.
The Nepalese newcomer west of Dulles Airport is hard to forget. I mean, there’s a stuffed yak near the entrance, and it even has a name: Rocky. The beast shares its stage with one beauty — the kitchen — and a menu that ignores supply issues with more than 30 dishes.
All the other tables seem to be dressed in momos. Also be sure to ask for some of the steamed dumplings. They come in the form of eight soft, transparent bite-size pieces on the rim of a bowl containing roasted tomato sauce. The restaurant’s theme has me cracking up on the ground yak stuffed momos, expertly seasoned with coriander, cumin and garam masala so you can still enjoy the delicate beef flavor of the mountain cow. Chow mein should also be eaten. A reminder that China is Nepal’s neighbor to the north, the street food staple is a tangle of thin yellow wheat noodles with a confetti of green onions, red cabbage, carrots and more, every bite smoke from the wok and splattered with sweet and salty oyster sauce.
Read the full review: Himalayan Wild Yak aims high – and scores – with Nepalese delicacies
You can pretty much point anywhere on the list and come up with a success story. Succulent pieces of pork, crispy from their time in a clay oven, resonate with mustard oil, ginger and garlic. Chicken sautéed with onions and peppers is finished with a chili sauce that leaves an exciting trail of heat. New on the menu, vegetable fritters made with chopped cabbage, cauliflower and carrots and topped with a taste of barbecue sauce: ketchup, chili flakes and soy sauce. Orbs are meatless and wonderful. Appetizers are spread out like main courses, and throngs of Indian customers have enticed the owners to add to their menu entrees such as lamb korma, soft bites of meat in a dark golden sauce thickened with yogurt and the cashew paste – as light and succulent as I’ve had anywhere.
The restaurant puts its customers first. Fabric panels float near the high ceiling of the Himalayas, the drink list is as interesting as a DC hotspot, and the person transporting food from the kitchen to the table can be one of two chefs. -owners.
22885 Brambleton Plaza, Ashburn, Virginia 703-760-3710. himalayanwildyak.com. Lunch and dinner daily. Indoor and outdoor seats. Hands $12 to $23. Take out and delivery. Sound control: 70 decibels / Conversation is easy. Accessibility: No barriers to entry; ADA compliant restrooms.