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best onion rings in nova? best fried calamari?

who has the best? how are they prepared (i.e, thick/thin batter? simple flour/meal dusting? cut thick/thin, etc.)

plus, best sauces....yeah! i love aioli.

thanks, i'm having a craving.....

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  1. there are so many variations....

    I personally like tempura battered onion rings, as for fried calamari, I like it Chinese style (with salt and pepper in the batter). I believe this versions is served in other Asian cultures such as Vietnamnese and Thai.

    2 Replies
      1. re: alkapal

        Any authentic Cantonese Chinese joint should have something like this:

        Salty Deep Fried Squid w/Chili & Garlic (Mark's Duck House)

    1. the 'dog collars' at the lost dog in westover (arlington) are really great. tobasco flavored and baked. thin batter

      1. I know it's not in NOVA, but the happy hour calamari at Penang in DC is damn tasty. It has a very thin batter with plenty of spice.

        1. Johnny Rockets does great onion rings. Totally hot, crispy, not greasy. No fancy aoli for dipping, but then again I like ketchup ;-)

          1. Hank's fried calamari and popcorn shrimp is terrific-I and don't even like calamari! I eat it only at Hanks. Terrific roumelade too.

            1. Onion rings - Popeye's, hands down. Light batter, always fresh (I guess not enough demand to have them sitting ready), wonderful.

              2 Replies
              1. re: wayne keyser

                But under no circumstances should you attempt to get them at the Annandale location of Popeyes. The last time I went there, the onion rings were battered rounds of the outside inedible skin of the onion.
                Also, every time I've gone to that location, the chicken has been burned to an acrid char.

                1. re: wayne keyser

                  I must agree wholeheartedly - Popeye's rings beat a substantial portion of pricier options !

                2. Going to have to make a couple of chain recommendations here.
                  McCormick and Schmick's has excellent calamari. Fresh and lightly fried.
                  Ted's Montana Grill has excellent onion rings. Large. Not too greasy. Great taste. And I've had onion rings at some of the higher end steak places in town and they're usually very good at such places. Though I can't recall exactly at which of those restaurants I've had the rings.

                  1. I remember Harry's Tap Room in Arlington having pretty good calamari. It's been a while since I've had them though.

                    1. the onion rings at Rockland's are quite good and peppery. Thin batter and cut pretty thin. The fried okra is particularly good, too, with a much thicker batter.

                      1. A few months ago we had a chowhounds lunch at what used to be Saigon Garden (or maybe a restaurant with a name we don't know located in the Saigon Garden section of the Eden Center) and discovered that it had become the Louisiana Seafood House or something like that. Still Asian-staffed, but now they serve crawfish. Anyway, we made the best of it, and I thought the calamari that they served was some of the best I've ever had. It was tender, not rubbery at all, with a tempura-like batter that stuck all around.

                        I'm not a big calamari eater - I don't order it for myself, but will mooch a couple of rings from someone else's portion - so I don't have a lot of experience here. But I thought this was unusually good, what I'd expect from a real restaurant rather than the usual bar food version.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: MikeR

                          I second the onion rings at Ted's Montana Grill. They are large and dipped into a beer batter. I don't usually like to "waste" calories/fat consumption on onion rings or fries, unless they're going to be worth it. They serve the onion rings with a horseradish-type sauce. Of course, there's also ketchup and malt vinegar at the table.

                        2. Viet Gardens in Clarendon had the best fried calamari in the area. I didn't care much for the rest of the menu (especially with Nam Viet down the road a block). I don't think they're open anymore due to "progress".

                          Not fried, but I would suggest anyone get the squid salad at Thai Square - my favorite squid appetizer/salad anywhere. Best squid dish in general is Nam Viet's Curried Squid.

                          13 Replies
                          1. re: Dennis S

                            will viet gardens open somewhere else?

                            1. re: alkapal

                              I'm not sure. I'm not down in that area all that much anymore these days.

                              1. re: alkapal

                                I think Viet Garden is gone for good. Their sign on the door when they closed said to visit their other restaurant Miss Saigon in Georgetown.

                              2. re: Dennis S

                                The fried squid at Nam Viet is right up there. I also like the accompanying greens and the lemon-pepper dipping sauce. The salt and pepper squid at Joe's Noodle House is king, though.

                                1. re: flavrmeistr

                                  Salt and pepper anything at Joes. Sheesh that's good.

                                  1. re: flavrmeistr

                                    Nam Viet and its neighboring shops are no more. Does anyone know if Nam Viet relocated? I loved the fried squid there.

                                    1. re: cabster

                                      What? Say it ain't so! Are you sure? The condo building built around them. All the store fronts on Clarendon or Fairfax were slated, but I thought the spot on Hudson would maintain a bit longer.

                                      There are (or were) two other locations - Cleveland Park and Arlandria (Del Ray area). Hudson St. was the best, despite a small decline in quality after the owner died a few years back.

                                      Sheesh - all this progress.

                                      Just checked - the site says they have two locations - Hudson and Cleve. Park. Wonder if Arlandria is gone?

                                      1. re: Dennis S

                                        nam viet is not gone. cabster, you are thinking of viet garden. nam viet had no neighbors, but now does: a condo.

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          Hey, you scared me!
                                          For anyone looking, Nam Viet is on the side street behind The Public Shoe store, a low key landmark for 40 years.

                                          And they really know how to fry stuff, squid or softshell crabs, black pepper sauce....

                                          1. re: pitu

                                            And I have to repeat my broken record of the spicy and sweet salmon soup (get a cup as an appetizer), and the curried squid. We have been able to break the rut and get many other things (all good), but if I were to have a last meal - this would be a good choice.

                                            1. re: Dennis S

                                              thx Dennis S, I never had either of those...

                                          2. re: alkapal

                                            Oops, sorry for scaring everyone! I love Nam Viet and hope that it continues to be safe from the crazed developers. I got it mixed up with Viet Garden, which is no more, correct?

                                            1. re: cabster

                                              cabster, correctamundo. no worries, mate!

                                  2. Since chains are in play on this thread, I'll mention Red Robin and Cheeburger Cheeburger for onion rings. Two different styles -- Red Robin's are the drier kind, CC's the greasier kind. Also, Clyde's for calamari. They serve a massive portion (plenty of tentacles) with a great aioli.

                                    I try not to eat a lot of fried crap but o-rings and calamar' (as they say in RI) always get my attention (but as for the calamari not if it's served with marinara, that's just not right).

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Bob W

                                      I second Cheeburger Cheeburger onion rings, they are my absolute favorite. Hand cut and not real thick, the batter stays on and you don't pull onion out.

                                      I like the grilled calamari at Hook, not fried or in NOVA but very good.

                                    2. just sendin' a shout out for any new ideas/updates!

                                      happy thanksgiving, folks!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: alkapal

                                        Mmmmm, one of my favorite topics. Hands down my favorite fried calamari is Argia's in Falls Church. Fried with a cornmeal crust (crunchy and non-greasy), sprinkled with fresh basil and served with a spicy marinara.

                                        And though I haven't been in several years, my favorite onion rings were always the Post Pub's (across from the Wash. Post). Light crunchy batter that just barely clung to the limp rings. Although was at the District Chop House last weekend and their rings, while very different were very respectable. Thick fat onion slabs fully covered in a crisp but light casing of batter. Highly recommend them.

                                        Slightly off topic, but on the topic of calamari I have to give a plug to Idylwood Grill's sauteed calamari appetizer. Unbelievable. It's a pink parmesan sauce with a hint of spice (that they're trying to get approved for bottling it's so good) and the calamari (rings only) are always perfectly cooked never chewy. That, a salad and their bread is my perfect meal these days. Rosemary's Thyme Bistro also has exceptional sauteed calamari.

                                      2. This is a mouthwatering thread!

                                        A general comment regarding fried squid: If there's no tentacles, it can't be the best. Maybe the best in the subcategory of fried calamari rings, but you gotta have some tentacles on the plate. Rings are fine, but they're just a vehicle for the batter.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Bob W

                                          I'm a rings only gal. And it's not the "ewwww" factor, I just don't think they have much taste or substance. To me it's the tentacles that are the vehicle for the batter!

                                          1. re: Meg

                                            LOL to be honest, i don't think any part of the squid has much flavor!

                                        2. Red, Hot, and Blue onion loaf....hmmm....

                                          1. My favorite calamari is at Village Bistro, the Bistro Calamari is sauteed in a garlic sauce and it is better than the fried. Bistro style is delicious, just the right amount of garlic and beurre blanc sauce, which is light and not overly rich, great for soaking up with the bread.
                                            Not fried but it is great! I had calamari done local style at Ban Phe in Thailand, lightly sauteed in its own ink, and again, I liked it better than fried squid, not that there is anything wrong with fried calamari. For fried calamari, my favorite is Argias, great taste, excellent crunch.

                                            1. Calamari at Majestic is amazing. It's also very good at Carlyle.

                                              1. The calamari at the Black Squirrel is surprisingly good and priced right.