I know it may seem like I have gone into hiding, but I promise you it is nothing that permanent. I recently had a job upset, and it has taken some time to adjust. I should be back now, fingers crossed.
Well, to commemorate my return, I am reviewing two restaurants stemming from 2 separate countries and cultures. One is from India (Cuisines also included are Bangladeshi, and Bengali); the other, Ethiopia. Let us start this party with the former.
298 Sunset Park Drive
Herndon, VA 20170
My favorite kind of restaurant in the whole wide world are those little holes in the wall that deceive you with their modest looks, then bowl you over with fantastic food. I just like a place with no room for pretention. The name was promising. It made me think of someone’s home. From the moment I arrived, it felt like I had been invited for supper at a friend’s. We were greeted by, who I can only assume, was Sid. He was an enchanting middle aged man with such a sweet temperament. His wife seemed to run the joint, manning the kitchen all by herself. He good heartedly admitted, she cooks, I am the dish guy. Totally charming.
To get to the meat and potatoes, so to speak, it is a seat yourself smallish buffet. But if all the dishes are divine, larger is just unnecessary. The good news is, aside from fried foods and bread, Indian food is naturally gluten free. The surprising bit is that there was only 3 items that fall into the “bad” category, everything else was free for the taking. Every last morsel was heaven. Spicy, but not too spicy. The only thing that was missing was a really good yogurt sauce, but that could be a regional difference. They also include with the price of the buffet, a can of soda or bottle of water.
The price is the best part after the fabulous food. You get all this for $7.99. No I am not jerking your chain! No I will not pinch you either. All in all, I think it is my new fave Indian dive. Not only was there wonderful hospitality, but also fabulous food at reasonable prices. This is a combo that cannot be beat.
Manna Bakery and Bistro
14215X Centreville Square
Centerville, Virginia 20121
Phone: (703) 543-6990
I LOVE Ethiopian food. I tried it for the first time almost 12 years ago, and after that, I have not found a place I enjoyed as much. It is like I have been searching for a lost love. I had tried a couple of places. One was pretty well known in DC, but it just lacked something. Finally I have found her, my new Ethiopian food temple.
Like Indian food, Ethiopian is naturally gluten free. Even the sourdough spongy pancakes you use in lieu of utensils (injera) is made from a gluten free grain, called teff. That is, authentic injera is made of teff. To appease the American palate, most Ethiopian restaurants make injera using teff AND wheat flour. It is almost impossible to find a place that does it old school anymore.
I did some research, and Manna had both kinds. So off I went to taste the fruit so long withheld from me. The décor is modest, just as I like, and the food tasted better with every bite. With Ethiopian food, I actually prefer vegetarian. I usually get the veggie sampler so I can get a little of all my favorites, messer wat (a spicy red lentil sauce, Kik-Alicha (a yellow split pea sauce), and Atakilt (Cabbage, carrots, and potatoes). In my previous experiences, the serving sizes seemed a little skimpy with the sampler, but not at Manna. The portion sizes were spot on. My husband, and taste adventurer extraordinaire, got the Doro Alicha (chicken simmered in onion, garlic, ginger and herbed butter), and it too was divine. This will be my main haunt for Ethiopian, of this I promise you. Oh yeah, try the French macaroons. They are celestial pockets of pleasure to the tongue, and GF.