From Himalayan to Serbian, DC's Restaurant Options Expand

  • January 11th 2013

by Rebecca Cooper

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From Himalayan to Serbian, DC's Restaurant Options Expand: Figure 1
Grilled stuffed prunes at Ambar. (Photo: Cinnamon Production)

Pockets of the DC area have long been known for restaurants touting authentic fare from various parts of the world: Little Ethiopia radiates out from 9th and U streets NW, Annandale is the go-to area for Korean barbecue, and if it’s dim sum you’re after, head to Wheaton, Md. But lately, budding restaurateurs are expanding the horizons of the area’s dining scene to even further corners of the world.

Restaurants featuring cuisine that ranges from Serbian to Himalayan to Burmese are now opening or have plans to open in the DC area. Here is a quick look at some of the restaurants bringing new tastes to the region.

Mad Momos: Sam Huang and Wanchuk Topden, the partners behind this two-level Columbia Heights restaurant and beer deck at 3605 14th Street NW, love the traditional dumplings from the Himalayas so much, they named their restaurant after them.

From Himalayan to Serbian, DC's Restaurant Options Expand: Figure 2
Mad Momo’s second floor.

Mad Momos menu features traditional demazong dumplings served in Himalayan regions such as Topden’s native Sikkim in India. The dumplings are stuffed with ground beef and sweet onions, and served with a sauce of roasted tomatoes, cilantro and green chiles. They’ve gone over so well, Huang said, one guest who grew up eating them said she’s planning to bring her mom back to try them. “That’s how you know you’re doing well — the mom test,” Huang says.

They’ve been a little playful with the other momo options, creating one stuffed with seafood, another with pork and apple — an homage to Huang’s favorite diner meal growing up in New York City, pork chops with applesauce — and a vegan option. They’re also working on a chicken dumpling, a “spudnik” dumpling that may resemble a pierogi, and other options such as a Peking duck momo that could be a daily special.

From Himalayan to Serbian, DC's Restaurant Options Expand: Figure 3
Dumplings at Mad Momos

Rus Uz: The owners of Rus Uz in Ballston know what it is to be good neighbors: the Rakhmatullaev family shares their space with Ballston Art & Framing. They also serve the cuisines of neighboring countries Russia and Uzbekistan, which have a lot of crossover in their cuisine, but also many distinct dishes.

The menu at Rus Uz includes traditional Uzbek dishes such as manti dumplings with lamb, a soup known as lagmon and plov, a rice entree with lamb or beef which is the national dish of Uzbekistan. But there are also Russian dishes including “fish under a fur coat” — herring mixed with potatoes, carrots, beets and mayonnaise — borsch, stuffed cabbage leaves called goluptsi and blini. Rus Uz, which was formerly a catering company based in Alexandria, opened at 1000 N. Randolph Street in mid-December.

From Himalayan to Serbian, DC's Restaurant Options Expand: Figure 4
Rus Uz dining room.

Mari Vanna: Speaking of Russian restaurants, newcomer Mari Vanna is another eatery making sure that Dupont Circle’s Russia House isn’t the only game in DC. The bar and restaurant in the former office space at 1141 Connecticut Avenue NW unveiled its bar earlier this month, and plans to officially open the restaurant on January 17, according to the Washington Post.

The menu hasn’t been posted yet, but the chain’s other locations in New York and L.A. list Russian classics such as pelmeni (veal dumplings), stroganoff (chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce), the aforementioned “herring under a fur coat” salad and blinis (crepes) with caviar. Mari Vanna has two levels, including a lounge, and has already been visited by the one and only Alexander Ovechkin, according to his Twitter feed.

From Himalayan to Serbian, DC's Restaurant Options Expand: Figure 5
Mari Vanna interior. (Courtesy of Mari Vanna).

Ambar: This restaurant featuring Serbian and other Balkan cuisines from Richard Sandoval protegé Ivan Iricanin has been a much anticipated addition on Capitol Hill. The two-level space at 523 8th Street SE includes a bar featuring menu items from Serbia and other parts of the Balkan region “with a modern” twist, according to Iricanin. The bar menu follows suit, with a wine list featuring many choices from Bosnia, Serbia, and Macedonia, as well as 30 varieties of rakia, a liquor produced by fermentation of fruit.

The menu includes small plates such as stuffed prunes, a beet and goat cheese Napoleon and Serbian doughnuts smeared with kajmak, a sort of Balkan hybrid of cream and cheese which appears with many items. Ambar is set to open for dinner next week, and will open for lunch beginning in February.

The restaurants listed above are not the only ones bringing new international concepts to the region. Mandalay, the Burmese favorite in Silver Spring is still working to get its Shaw location open, and Victor Albisu is planning to open Del Campo, a restaurant that combines the Peruvian and Cuban foods he grew up with, in Chinatown.

Readers, what other international cuisines would you like to see open in or around the District?

See other articles related to: neighborhood eats

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/from_himalayan_to_serbian_dcs_restaurant_options_expand/6502.

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