Mokomandy: A Duet of Cuisines
Mokomandy, is an award-winning restaurant repeatedly among Washingtonian’s Top 100, #9 in 2018, and #4 of Northern Virginia Magazine’s Top 50 in 2017. Widely noted for its Cajun and Korean “duet of cuisines”, Mokomandy’s married owners draw their menu offerings from his five generations of Korean history and her French influenced Cajun meals, ingredients and flavors. Head Chef, Daniel Stevens, is careful to explain this uncommon union is not meant to imply a full fusion of flavors but rather a “duet of cuisines” skirting the lines of fusion. Ever eloquent in his richly poetic language of food, Dan describes the Mokomandy union as culturally tradition-based but not traditional, asymmetric but balanced. Menu items are offered in three portion sizes. The menu changes based on popularity and consistency with local sourcing when available.
We asked for a cooking demonstration and were readily led into the kitchen to observe Head Chef Stevens create a Mokomandy version of Macaroni and Cheese in a precise five minute prep time needed for almost all menu items. He says “old food looks old” and starts heating up a small sauté pan to the correct sizzle. He reaches for mushrooms from a stove-side smorgasbord of freshly chopped and prepped ingredients. Drops them into the readied pan and proceeds to create. We hear “good sauce”, “lots of veggies”, “toss and sizzle” and “lots of reduction”. We hear “incremental approach to creation” as Chef Stevens adds cabbage, cukes, red chard and more. Off the stove to a small bowl, he “pulls” homemade pre-blanched noodles into the bowl of vegetables and “redresses” them with sauce. He adds Korean vermouth and a shot of extra hot sauce for pop. The aroma is magnetic.
We are seated at a table by the window and invited to indulge in an exotic Mokomandy sampling. The table notably hushed while we explored our choices, among them: Braised Duck Foie Gras Dumplings with the consistency of tiny soufflés and a homemade plum sauce. Sliders of melt-in-your-mouth pot roast with kimchi apples and radish sprouts stacked between tiny perfect homemade leavened yeast bread, steamed and very lightly deep fried. Comments? “Woah, that is GOOD!”
The food isn’t all that is special at Mokomandy. The handcrafted cocktails are extraordinarily delightful! Try the Manhattan, smooth, refreshing and tasty, advice from one who usually shies away from such things. Bees in the Garden, a light lime zing made chartreuse, gin honey basil and thyme or the Iced Coffee with infused rum, condensed milk and foam. Many cocktails are concocted with Mokomandy’s own homemade vermouth and homemade syrups.
Mokomandy is a gem nestled discreetly in the Great Falls Plaza in Sterling. They are open for dinner five nights a week from 5-10 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Be sure to check their website for the weekend brunch menu. 20789 Great Falls Plaza, Suite 176, Sterling, VA 20165>