Foodie News: International Foods to Cajun Cuisine

Hop N Shine (The Zebra)

February’s Foodie News

Thank you to all of the restaurants in Alexandria for giving your support to the furloughed federal and contract employees in the area. Not knowing when your next paycheck may come is a terrible place to be. Your free or reduced priced meals helped out so many people and their families who had to make hard choices about where they could or should spend their limited resources.

Fresh produce at La Mart (The Zebra).

The news is out that LA Mart, an international food store based in Maryland, is taking over the space formerly occupied by Giant at 5730 Edsall Road. This will be the second store in NOVA – the first is located in Springfield at 6711 Bland St. Like many international stores, they feature fresh and inexpensive fruits and vegetables as well as a wide variety of international foods. Shoppers note in online reviews that fruit and vegetables and fresh and inexpensive, and the stores have a wide variety of international and hard-to-find snacks. More good news is that the new Bonchon Chicken on Richmond Highway in the Beacon of Groveton appears to be back on track after two years of delays. “Our Alexandria location is still underway,” said Carlene Blair, a spokeswoman for Bonchon. Blair added that there is no timeframe for opening the restaurant at this moment.

BonChon Chicken (The Zebra).

Hops N Shine is now open in the former site of Senor Chicken, 3410 Mt. Vernon Ave. The beer garten features 52 beer taps representing many Virginia breweries and other small, craft breweries. The menu is full of assorted bar foods including artisan spiral dogs such as all beef hot dogs, cheddarwurst, bratwurst, and chicken apple sausage. The toppings are wide and varied like veggies, fruits, cheeses, sauces, and dressings. There are some nine different loaded grilled cheese sandwiches plus a build your own. With six different types of bread, and eight varieties of cheese, you should be able to make a sandwich exactly to your personal tastes. And don’t miss the loaded tots, sweet potato fries, or French fries. They start with melted cheese and can be loaded with any or all of the toppings available for the dogs and grilled cheese.

Pho at Taste of Asia (The Zebra).

There’s a new vendor at the 4 Mile Run Market. The Fermented Pig, brings the highest quality artisanal, dry cured bacon handcrafted with all-natural ingredients. Joshua brings kombucha, bacon, and various charcuterie to tempt your taste buds. Bacon varieties include orange fennel, hickory smoked, brown sugar rubbed, and black pepper. Sausage types vary weekly. I currently have a Greek sausage just waiting to be cooked. The kombucha comes in several flavors including tart cherry, orange ginger, pomegranate ginger, cranberry, and grapefruit. Have you been to Taste of Asia, 362 S. Pickett, lately? They have added some eight variety of Vietnamese Phở. The broth is the key to great Phở and their broth is great. Each bowl is filled with meats and veggies and accompanied by jalapeños, bean sprouts, and Thai basil. The House combination features a mix of rare steak, beef brisket, meatballs, and tendon. There is a wonderful shrimp noodle version and a delightful vegetarian version filled with seasonal vegetables such as snow peas, carrots, napa cabbage, broccoli, mushrooms, and fried tofu. Since Phở contains rice noodles, the soup is also vegan.

RT’s (The Zebra).

Restaurant Week is over now and there were lots of great choices. We went to one of Alexandria’s favorite spots, RT’s at 3804 Mt. Vernon Ave. The she crab soup is always a must have at lunch or dinner. The Crawfish & Shrimp Beignets with garlic mayo were a beautiful marriage and were so full of seafood, the beignet batter served more as a binder. Entrees reflected the regular menu favorites such as the Gulf shrimp and grits, blackened mahi mahi, New Orleans steak frites, and shellfish etouffee. As always, the flavors were true to the South and creole cooking. Probably one of the most memorable parts of the meal was the coconut custard ‘oatmeal’ pie. A creamy interior, toasted exterior, with cinnamon whipped cream and caramel sauce made this the table favorite and a do-not-miss dish on a par with the she crab soup.

We had a great month of events and hope you did as well. Until next time, eat well and enjoy!

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