Oh, Mokomandy. Where do I even begin with how many beautiful nights and bites I’ve had with you? You were my go-to place to take friends and family, knowing that you would outdo yourself every time. Not in a showing off kind of way, but in a “what dish will leave us wanting more — but not too much more since you have to save room for dessert” kind of way. Your attention to detail and the thoughtful way you married Cajun and Korean ingredients were not lost on me, or the many who filled your cozy space.
My first introduction to the originality and creativity coming out of the kitchen was your jambalaya topped with pork cracklins and a side of jalapeno hush puppies. The jambalaya, made with housemade sausage, was a favorite among the many loved ones I brought to you for birthdays, anniversaries and graduation dinners throughout the years.
The foie gras dumplings and bone marrow with onion jam were so succulent and delicious that they were anxiety-inducing — I knew I would never be able to recreate the bold flavors at home, and that I would have to return again and again to experience them. And I did.
Each savory, mouth-watering bite of the baby octopus and pork belly skewers highlighted another explosive combination of citrus and spice that only your executive chef could have dreamed up.
You became a staple in my life. A special place to celebrate with family over a bowl of wild boar with local duck egg. Somewhere to reconnect with friends while enjoying a refreshing and sweet Bees in the Garden cocktail. When I began looking for a house in northern Virginia, I made sure to note what neighborhood restaurants would be close by. If I said that I didn’t choose my current home at least partially based on the fact that it’s a 10-minute drive from you, I would be lying.
I can’t talk about your food without also mentioning the incredible team that made it possible. From the hostesses, the knowledgeable servers, the mixologists and, of course, the chefs and back of the house, your staff were some of the best in northern Virginia for their dedication to quality and hospitality. If I wanted to know what paired with the “Our Sazerac” cocktail, I would get a complete rundown of what options worked best, which usually ended with the Korean pot roast sliders.
In early March, when the first whisperings of businesses shutting down due to COVID-19 were starting to become louder, I took my mom for brunch. We ordered old favorites (the scallop BLT) and new plates (the lobster Benedict) and enjoyed sharing each — and ordered seconds of the corned beef hash. We ended our meal with a chocolate pot de creme served with a side of beignets and french press coffee. If I would have known that would be my last meal with you, I would have ordered a jambalaya to go.
But that’s the thing — I always ate there like it was the last time. Mokomandy made you believe that life is too short to not enjoy great food prepared so expertly that it tickles all your senses. I left that afternoon feeling satisfied and thankful that a unique place like that existed among the predictable chain dining options all over northern Virginia.
So now, I am raising a homemade Bees in the Garden to you as I, and countless others, thank you for always leaving our bellies and hearts full. You are so missed, and I cannot wait to see what you do next. If the past is any sign of your future, new and delicious meals await.
Tiffany Meehan of Sterling
Meehan is a local foodie and marketing expert. This piece originally appeared in the summer issue of Loudouner.