NoVa Shopping and Eating: Canton Cafe, Thailand, and IndAroma,
Three quick meals in crowded shopping centers made for some fairly uninteresting eating. Here's the rundown:
Thailand, Fair City Mall, Farirfax.
The other options here are China Star (Sichuan, very good), Mama Lucia, Old Country Buffet, and some kind of healthy food franchise whose name sounds like an urgent care clinic. Thailand is next to Cinema Arts. Some good stuff, but absolutely nothing exciting. The beef salad appetizer was a very small portion of crispy, charred beef on top of iceberg lettuce. Not marinated at all.
Canton Cafe, Springfield Plaza.
Some very interesting items on the menu, but they were out of a couple of items (duck blood, crab), so I went with stuffed tofu, green pepper and eggplant in a black bean sauce. The stuffed items were very good, but it was all bathed in a gloppy sauce. Maybe there's more to explore here.
IndAroma, Little River Turnpike
A nice place with a very gracious staff. A bakery featuring Indian snacks and European pastries. Unfortunately the chaat papri was too sweet as were the pastries we sampled. The kati roll was 'made inglorious' by out-of-season tomatoes.
NOW is the winter of my discontent.
I went to Canton Cafe right after it opened, probably 10 years ago. I wasn't paying attention enough to food then (less than now) to know if the food was good, but they definitely had hundreds of items all scrolled on chalk boards. I just thought that was cool. Ordered the weirdest thing listed in engiish (salt baked frog), and that was about it. Didn't happen to go back, pretty sure it's changed name and ownership a few times. It must do good business w/ real Chinese folks, b/c the location seems expensive and the menu wasn't Americanized (then.)
just leaving this comment b/c I imagine no one else has been there.
re: Russel Shank
Canton Cafe is pretty good with both the Cantonese dishes and American Chinese. Also in that area are Thai Cafe (very good authentic Thai) and Manila Cafe (good Filipino, although it's been a while since I've been there).
Looking over those recs, my new rule in Springfield might be "try ethnic places named Something Cafe".
I feel like Canton Cafe must have its good days -- I don't know how it'd stay in business this long, with that menu in this area, without "delivering" sometimes. Maybe the good cook was out, or they thought a Westerner wouldn't know the difference from a half-assed dish.
Could be that they're under new management, or a front for 'something' else.