Global Eats Part III

Photos by Jim Pile and David Uhrin

In Global Eats Part I, Part II and Part III, we explore 101 enticing international restaurants that put Coastal Virginia's culinary scene on the map.

 

Japanese

 

Zushi Japanese Bistro

If CoVa has a sushi auteur, it’s Kevin Chang. Picture perfect presentations at his upscale Town Center sanctuary Zushi adhere to nature but allow for his idiosyncratic flair, and the purity of his product ensures sushi par excellence. Submitting to the omegaze (five-course chef’s choice) is highly recommended. Beyond sushi, sake and cosmopolitan cocktails flow, as do hot kitchen items and French desserts. Chic dining room décor beckons, but snagging a seat at the sushi bar is to observe poetry in motion while engagingly conversing with the ever-opinionated Chang. 4540 Main St., Virginia Beach, 757-321-1495, ZushiBistro.com
—MM

 

Hayashi Sushi & Grill, Newport News Japanese restaurants
Hayashi Sushi & Grill

Hayashi Sushi & Grill

Look no further for hibachi done right in a sleek space with a metropolitan feel where Japanese chefs sear dinner at your table and ignore rules of not playing with your food in favor of entertaining antics. Prefer your meal made behind the scenes? Sushi may be the biggest standout here, with an all-encompassing list of both traditional maki and nigiri choices, along with loaded rolls like the Delta Force, deep-fried with eel, avocado, crab, cream cheese, wasabi and eel sauce. 11820 Merchants Walk, Newport News. 757-223-5783. HayashiSushiGrill.com
—MMS

 

Mizuno

Those in the know deem Mizuno a sushi exemplar. Born in Japan, Wataru “Walter” Mizuno apprenticed arduously in Tokyo under Teruo Sato, and you can taste a master’s touch in plates such as hamachi (yellowtail) ceviche and an octopus-hokki clam-shrimp salad. Mizuno prizes freshness, and blue crabs, oysters and flounder from local waters hold sway. The icily luminous bar and striking dining room complement the sophistication of Mizuno’s evolving edible art (new style nigiri with spicy sesame soy and Italianated crudo platters), raising the submarine to sublime. La Promenade, 1860 Laskin Rd., #115B, Virginia Beach, 757-422-1200, MizunoSushi.com
—MM

 

Daikichi Sushi Bistro

The Zen-inducing water fountain by the entry sets the tone. So too the tatami seating option, inviting you to take off your shoes and glide into slippers. Soon, graceful service will be furthering you along the path of tasteful tranquility via sushi, tempura and teriyaki. All are splendid, but Chef Hiro’s una-ju (broiled freshwater eel on a bed of rice), lotus kinpira (thinly sliced, crisp lotus root with sesame oil), broiled black sea bass marinated in sake and broiled jaw of yellow tail are not to be missed. 1400 N. Battlefield Blvd., Chesapeake, 757-549-0200, WeLoveSushi.net
—MM

 

Kyushu Japanese Restaurant/Sushi Bar

A Japanese proverb atop Kyushu’s menu declares, “The warmth of a meal is born of the warmth of the host,” and, indeed, while you likely will order something cold—superb sushi and sashimi—the welcome you receive here is as warm as the heated towels that initiate your meal. Onigiri, katsudon, Tempura Bagels and Mermaid Rolls have devotees, and specials like broiled squid, salmon skin salad and katsu curry entice off-hour chefs to eat here. Clean and bright, this modest restaurant won’t win décor awards. Its badge is authenticity. 400 Newtown Rd., Virginia Beach, 757-490-1177, KyushuJap.com
—MM

 

Turkish

 

Pasha Mezze, Turkish restaurants Norfolk
Pasha Mezze

Pasha Mezze

No matter your point on the spectrum, rapacious omnivore to strident vegan, you’ll find family-run Pasha Mezze a bountiful Turkish bazaar of taste and style. Beautiful presentations like succulent chicken skewers, beef kofte and lamb chunks over jasmine rice and healthful compositions such as tomato slices and eggplant steak topped by (vegan) jalapeno-tomato sauce pair with invigorating cocktails in a setting exotic, engaging and warm. It offers one of the most interesting weekend brunch menus around, and its products also are available in local organic/natural markets. 340 W. 22nd St., Norfolk, 757-627-1318, NorfolkFreshFood.com
—MM 

 

Kebab House Turkish Restaurant

Owner David Yetim grew up in Turkey and started cooking at the age of 12. He immigrated to the U.S. in 2003 and eventually moved his family to Coastal Virginia in 2016 to start his own restaurant. The location he chose is pushed back from J. Clyde Morris Boulevard, so it’s a little difficult to spot, but if you look for the Waffle House, you’re just moments away from authentic Turkish cuisine, including some of the best kababs you’ll ever wrap your taste buds around. 980 J. Clyde Morris Blvd. #122, Newport News, 757-223-7311, KebabHouseGrill.com
—BB

 

Kervan Kebab House

The flavors of the east meet the west with pizzazz at the restaurant and marketplace of Kervan Kebab House, with its skewered, plated and sandwiched kebabs, ravishing red lentil soup and tasty Turkish coffee. Try their Iskender Plate, a beef doner served between pita bread and tomato sauce, white rice and yogurt or a lighter choice of the Turkish Vegetarian Plate, a borek spinach pastry served along with hummus, red lentil fingers and stuffed grape leaves. 1757 Parkview Dr. B, Chesapeake. 757-233-9350
—RM

 

Vietnamese

 

Saigon One

Before the delectable Vietnamese-French mashup of a sandwich called banh mi were a twinkle in hip American chefs’ eyes, humble Saigon One was introducing us to them, along with the joys of bubble tea, crispy Saigon pancakes, phenomenally inexpensive lunch specials and pho. Even if Americans still can’t get the restorative noodle soup’s pronunciation down pat (more fuh than foe), they can delight in it down the very last slurp, leaning back at meal’s end to think: Sigh. Gone. 448 Newtown Rd., Virginia Beach, 757-518-0307
—MM

 

Pho Dalat

Pho can be unimpressive or utterly habit-forming. At Pho Dalat in Greenbrier, a single order of pho arrives in a massive white bowl: thin rice noodles and meat submerged in fragrant, amber liquid with fresh basil and beansprouts on the side. Various meat and vegetarian options provide ample choice for diners in a quiet, businesslike setting. Though its warmth is found more consistently in its food than the service, Pho Dalat should be a first choice for those seeking traditional pho and other Vietnamese comfort food. 836 Eden Way N., Chesapeake, 757-233-9995, Facebook.com/PhoDalat
—RH

 

Vietnam Garden

There’s more to Vietnamese cuisine than phenomenal pho, as Vietnam Garden indicates with their foray into diverse tastes with rice vermicelli, com tam rice platters, stir fry, curry and more. Start with a splendid appetizer such as crispy cha gio rolls (deep fried rice paper stuffed with seafood, pork or veggies) before grabbing the chopsticks and nibbling on one of their many tender noodle plates, including the sumptuous bun thit nuong, a tender, cold rice-vermicelli dish unraveling with pork morsels, peanuts and hints of cilantro. 2404 Virginia Beach Blvd., #114, Virginia Beach, 757-631-8048
—RM

 

Pho 79, Vietnamese restaurants Hampton Roads
Pho 79

Pho 79

We formerly turned to chicken noodle soup for a classic comfort food. Pho has long replaced that habit. Here, we love the pho chay (vegetarian pho), served with rice noodles, broccoli, zigzag-cut carrots and chayote, mushrooms and tender chunks of tofu. There’s plenty of beef pho options, as well as hu tieu (pork broth soup), rice dishes, vermicelli bowls and bahn mi sandwiches. Pair any or all with a boba tea—Taro, if you please—and prepare for your definition of comfort foods to be elevated. Pho 79 has locations in Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg. EatPho79.com
—AB

 

Italian

 

Mannino’s Italian Bistro

It’s rare to see diners leave without doggie bags, so generous are servings of veal stacked with portobellos, eggplant and prosciutto; chicken blanketed with oozy cheeses and rich, red sauce; tortellini; and local fried oysters at these comfortable, unpretentious Italian eateries founded by father-son John R. and John M. Mannino and Daris Gavin, now numbering three throughout CoVa. The food is so addictive, the service so friendly and prices so reasonable, you’ll think Mannino’s means mangia. Kempsville: 4402 Princess Anne Rd., Virginia Beach, 757-474-4446. Oceanfront: 3420 Atlantic Ave., Virginia Beach, 757-390-2580. Olde Towne: 606 High St., Portsmouth, 757-966-7522. ManninosItalianBistro.com
—MM

 

Andrea's La Bella

Chef Andrea DiCarlo's mother taught him to make homemade pasta as a young boy in Brooklyn, N.Y. Today, we feel beyond lucky that his family settled locally and DiCarlo now shares his lifetime love of cooking Sicilian-inspired Italian food with the diners who flock at his Ghent restaurant. Throw all carb-conscious thoughts out the window at Andrea's. Instead, begin with fresh bread baked twice daily, continue with La Caprese pizza, and find even more room for plentiful pasta plates like Wild Mushroom and Sausage Tortellini or Linguini Frutti De Mare. 738 W. 22nd St., Norfolk. 757-622-6172. LaBellaInGhent.com
—MMS

 

Sal’s By Victor, Italian

Sal’s by Victor has been a Williamsburg institution for more than four decades, and for good reason: the menu of Italian chef Vittorio Minichiello stands out for its innovativeness as much as the food does for its quality. The New York-style pizza is always a favorite, and locals often carry one out for a next-level Italian experience at home. But in-house, amid Italian decor, Minichiello’s dishes combine culinary traditions in novel and interesting ways, as with the lobster ravioli, flounder francese and limoncello and mascarpone cake. 1242 Richmond Rd., Williamsburg, 757-220-2641, SalsByVictor.com
—BS

 

Il Giardino

There’s a reason the focaccia at Il Giardino is irresistible: It’s baked in a wood-burning oven—hailed as the first wood-burning oven in Virginia—after the restaurant’s founder, Tony Gargiulo, saw one on a trip to Florence in 1983 and knew he had to have one. Gargiulo, who passed away in 2014, opened the restaurant’s original Oceanfront location in 1985, and Dan Clarkson opened the second location on West Great Neck officially in early 2017. The atmospheres at each are completely different, but their menus are equally robusto. Start light with a carpaccio before falling in love with one of their hearty entrees: The Pollo Alla Francese (fillet of chicken, lemon, butter, white wine) is a favorite, as is the Frutti Di Mare (mussels, clams, shrimp, scallops, calamari and tomato sauce with angel hair pasta). Oceanfront: 910 Atlantic Ave., Virginia Beach, 757-422-6464. Great Neck: 2105 W. Great Neck Rd., Virginia Beach, 757-412-0203. IlGiardino.com
—AB

 

Razzo

With an old-school visage you’d find on a Philly or Boston neighborhood corner, Razzo (Italian for rocket, named for the dearly departed Ocean View Amusement Park roller coaster) is all ups, no downs—from baked fennel, roasted garlic and fried mozzarella antipasti to rigatoni Bolognese, stuffed eggplant and veal Marsala. Its near-the-water locale evokes the film Big Night, but it’s small: you can practically count the booths, tables and parking spaces on one hand. Atop the bar is a photo of late founder Butch Germano, a rocket of a restaurateur himself. 3248 E. Ocean View Ave., Norfolk, 757-962-3630, Razzo-Norfolk.com
—MM

 

Al Fresco Italian restaurant, Newport News
Al Fresco

Al Fresco

From the outside, this Oyster Point Square Italian restaurant seems unassuming, but inside, white tablecloths and sophisticated black chairs contribute to the upscale atmosphere, while full-sized murals on each wall transport patrons to Italy. The cuisine here is inspired from Northern and Southern Italy, featuring modern interpretations of traditional dishes. Menu favorites like mussels sautéed with roasted red and yellow peppers or salmon picatta with Roma tomatoes, mushrooms and capers draw customers in, while their tiramisu—and their wine list—keeps them coming back for more. 11710 Jefferson Ave., Newport News, 757-873-0644, AlFrescoItalianRestaurant.com 
—AB

 

Aldo’s Ristorante

Since 1988, Aldo’s has been serving immensely satisfying, authentic Italian cuisine, and much like their exceptional wines, they’ve only gotten better with age. Aldo’s pristine and comfortable atmosphere pairs exceptionally well with the restaurant’s balanced menu, offering a fabulous selection of light options (dinner-sized-portion salads or poached salmon with fresh dill) as well as hearty Italian dishes, like the Cape Henry Crabmeat Cappellini, piled high with jumbo crabmeat, artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes soaked in a light, buttery stock and finished with a splash of sherry. Whatever you do, save room for the delicate Napoleon: velvety cream layered between sheets of pastry crust and blanketed with powdered sugar. 1860 Laskin Rd., Virginia Beach, 757-491-1111, AldosVB.com
—AB

 

Luce

Intimate charm meets Downtown poise inside this Granby Street gem. And yet, Chef/Owner Antonio Caruana successfully maintains the restaurant’s “no pretentiousness, no highfalutin stuff” attitude when it comes to both service and food. An infusion of Italy’s regions (from Sicily to Sardinia), the menu is bold and exciting, with favorites like Mushroom Toast with truffle oil and porcini dust, Wild Boar Ragu and Mafaldine Di Guanciale (tender pork jowl, onion, fresh thyme, tomatoes and white wine tossed with mafaldine pasta). Add to that a wildly enticing cocktail menu and a wine list that wows, and you’ve got yourself a reason to return again and again. 245 Granby St., Norfolk. 757-502-7260, LuceNorfolk.com
—AB

 

Filipino

 

Glory’s Bakery

Since 1986, Glory’s Bakery has been a community mainstay for Filipino food finds, well representing its cultural cuisine with pancit, the succulent national noodle, and crispy rolls of lumpia. In addition to the mélange of handhelds of freshly baked rolls filled with pork, ham and steak, they’ve forged a following for their phenomenal pepperoni bread, a tasty treat stuffed with savory pepperoni and stringy mozzarella cheese. 665 Aragona Blvd., Virginia Beach, 757-557-0613. 1920 Centerville Turnpike, Virginia Beach, 757-479-3316, Facebook.com/GlorysBakeryVB
—RM 

 

Maymar Filipino Restaurant

While this exceptional eatery offers the quintessential Filipino food items of tasty pancit and lumpia (combined with an order of their Tito Pogi), Maymar draws a crowd with their excellent entrees and daily specials. Help yourself to some adobo, with either chicken or pork, marinated in soy sauce vinegar and bay leaf, their top round Beefsteak with lemon and soy sauce or Bicol Express, chicken mixed with coconut milk and a three-chili blend, each served with a variety of rice, pancit or veggies. 805 N. Battlefield Blvd. #107, Chesapeake, 757-548-1731, Facebook.com/MaymarEats
—RM 

 

Mama Zeny's, Filipino Restaurants Newport News
Mama Zeny's

Mama Zeny’s

Located near the corner of Denbigh Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue, Mama Zeny’s is housed in a building that looks like it may have once been a 7-Eleven. However, it is surprisingly bright and cheery inside, especially when greeted by the delicious smells emanating from the small kitchen. If you don’t mind eating off Styrofoam dishes you’ll enjoy recipes that come straight from the Philippines. There is a full menu, but if you’re not familiar with Filipino food, you might want to start with the lunch buffet to try a sampling. 607 Denbigh Blvd., Newport News, 757-874-0780, Facebook.com/MamaZeny
—BB

 

Oriental Cuisine Kainan

Kabalen Tess Lynch’s neat-as-a-pin University Shoppes spot offers a tasty education in Filipino fare from adobo to ube (mashed purple yam dessert). Her lechon kawali (crispy pork belly) and lumpia are lauded. So are her sinigang (sour soup) and BBQ chicken on a stick. Sundays mean buffet while other days feature à la carte and daily specials like the notable kare-kare (peanut-based oxtail stew). Kainan caters and offers a private dining room with a picturesque entrance paying homage to the stilt houses, bahay kubos, of Lynch’s native island nation. 5660 Indian River Rd., Virginia Beach, 757-313-9625, KainanVa.com
—MM

 

Mariam’s Fil-Am Cuisine

To fully appreciate a culture, you must understand its food. Located in Bayview, this family-run restaurant fuses the hearts of Filipino and American cuisine. Pricing items so that diners can afford multiple choices off the ever-changing menu, the warm, charming waitstaff is eager to explain the more unusual offerings like purple ginataang langka (jackfruit-infused shrimp chowder). Tamarind-laced sinigang (sour soup) pairs exceptionally with sultry chicken adobo while grown men have fought outright over sweet tocino pork sausages. Order extra of the shatteringly crisp lumpia to smuggle home for later. 4801 Shore Dr., Virginia Beach, 757-460-2601
—RH

 

Mexican

 

Jessy's Taco Bistro, Norfolk, Mexican restaurants
Jessy's Taco Bistro

Jessy’s Taqueria

Upon entering you might bump into someone piling a tray with pan dulce (pastries), like at a Ciudad de México panadería, but turn right for the taqueria and tequila bar that began as a literal hole-in-the-wall in the tienda. Today, after expanding here (and around Coastal Virginia), the sit-down restaurant teems, and there’s sometimes a line for genuine mole poblano, tacos, lamb broth, gorditas, horchata and more (even breakfast). Cool. That’s time for checking out the butchery and arrays of chiles, piñatas and candles. And eyeing colorful sweets to take home. 3201 E. Ocean View Ave., Norfolk, 757-531-0033, JessysOV.com
—MM

 

Los Paisas Locos

No catalog menu here—just a tri-fold of authentic homestyle Mexican options from traditional tacos to menudo (tripe soup). Lovingly braised and seared carnitas are cradled by tortilla shells still warm from their daily press. Chips and salsa take a new twist with a help-yourself salsa bar that features more than a dozen varieties, each showcasing tomatillos, avocado, obscure Mexican spices and intensifying peppers. Chicken mole or tacos al pastor are can't-miss options for first-timers. 11710 Jefferson Ave., Newport News. 757-595-8226, Facebook.com/LosPaisasLocos
—MMS

 

Gringo’s Taqueria

If the three amigos (vaguely boring tacos, bad guacamole, mediocre salsa) have overstayed their welcome in your weeknight dinners, a visit to Gringo’s could help. Located a half-mile from the Oceanfront, Gringo’s offers diners an authentic taco experience. Start with a Baja fried fish taco, then order a carne asada or veggie taco heaped with crisp, grilled asparagus and portobello mushrooms. Round out the meal with a cool drink from the full selection of Mexican beers and international wines before heading down to the boardwalk for a lazy evening stroll. 612 Norfolk Ave. #109, Virginia Beach, 757-961-2987, Facebook.com/GringosTaqueria
—RH

 

Korean

 

Chic N Fish

Flourishing plants outside hint that this commercial strip storefront just off I-64 is more than run-of-the mill. Throngs inside are a tipoff, too. The eat-in/take-out Korean-American hybrid offers seafood platters and sandwiches, bulgogi and burgers, but most come for its KFC (Korean Fried Chicken). Double frying means orders may take up to a half hour, so many call ahead for wings and drums (“big as a man’s thigh”) with choice of soy garlic or hot and spicy glaze or—for the diplomatic—half and half. 954 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News, 757-223-6517, ChicNFishVa.com
—MM

 

Koreana Sushi & BBQ

One of Koreana’s biggest draws among locals is that it’s more in the pan-Asian category than simply confining itself to the Korean Peninsula. The eatery offers diners a range of experiences in Far Eastern cuisine. Up for sushi? Koreana’s chefs are well-practiced in that classic Japanese staple. But most diners venture into the heart of the Korean kitchen, where dolsot bibimbap and spicy squid bokkeum bring flavors found few other places in Coastal Virginia. 153 Monticello Ave., Williamsburg, 757-220-2010
—BS

 

Asahi

The dormant, front-and-center sushi bar, like Mount Paektu, may erupt again one day, but for now a calm setting prevails amidst Asahi’s warm wood and soothing bamboo décor while the family-run Korean kitchen hushes rumbling tummies craving banchan (complimentary small dishes such as cucumber and cabbage kimchi, black beans, steamed veggies), magna-hot Dolsot Bibimbap in a stone bowl, tempting bulgogi (Korean barbecue), beautifully broiled fish and vegetable pancakes. Folks used to blow off steam in its karaoke lounge, but it too is currently quiet. 1628 Independence Blvd., Virginia Beach, 757-318-4111
—MM 

 

KyungSung Restaurant, Korean restaurants Newport News
KyungSung Restaurant

KyungSung Restaurant

Operating since 1982, KyungSung was the first Korean restaurant established in Coastal Virginia. With a reputation like that, you know you can’t go wrong. Lunch and dinner are served daily except on Tuesdays, and you can choose from a number of traditional Korean options cooked in the kitchen or at tableside grills. Located near the intersection of Warwick and Bland, the restaurant is a little difficult to spot from the road, but if you look for the big red “Travel Inn” sign, you’ve reached your destination. 13748 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, 757-877-2797, KyungSung.org
—BB

 

Norfolk Garden

If sizzling bulgogi or fiery bibimbap is what you seek, grab some friends and venture forth to Military Highway. Upon arrival at this foreclosed-looking restaurant, abandon your concern; though appearances may contradict, you are now in safe hands. A bizarre interior complements the truly genuine, if somewhat bewildering, Korean menu. Follow the banchan with a subtle and spicy soup like gopchang jeongol, then order the Norfolk Garden Special. This captivating grill-it-yourself parade of short ribs, bulgogi, chicken and pork is certain to provide enough entertainment—and food—to satisfy the whole party. 525 N. Military Hwy, Norfolk, 757-459-4646
—RH

 

Nepalese

 

Aago, Nepalese restaurants Newport News, Hampton Roads
Aago

Aago

Inhale the alluring spices as you enter this pretty jewel box of a dining room whose vibrant blue walls are painted with flickering flames, fitting as Aago means fire in Nepalese. Its heady Himalayan cuisine comes in the form of momo (dumplings plumped with ground chicken or veggies, sided by tomato and sesame chutney) and sekuwa (chicken/lamb skewers). Its lavish Indian dishes (biryanis, curries, a range of Tandoori breads) also draw many to only nine linen-draped tables, so allow for a wait, increasing anticipation to Mount Everest heights. 11745 Jefferson Ave., #8, Newport News. 757-310-6457, AagoRestaurant.com
—MM

 

Explore more Global Eats in Part I and Part II.

Categories: Coast Live, Issue Page Features, Restaurants & Food

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