Sasuns is named after the Armenian town where one of the owners grandparents were born (Sasun, now known as Sason, is currently a district in the Batman province of Turkey).
Vatche and Maral Abkarian decided to open the restaurant just over a year and a half ago. It’s located at 7217 Muncaster Mill Road, in the same location that was Home to Steaming Blues Crab House.
Their daughter Sophie, a recent Magruder graduate, can often be found running the counter– taking care of the carry-out customers and handling all of the dine-in orders.
“I used to cook for hundreds of people each year at my church, so I decided to do something crazy and open the restaurant.” said owner, Vatche Abkarian. He has lived in the area for nearly four decades and loves the Derwood community– where the restaurant is located and the family lives.
In addition to all the food we are showing below, Sasuns has items like chicken souvlaki, French fries, kebabs, pizza, cheesesteaks and a lot more!
We started by trying out their dips. We had the tabboulleh, muttabel (roasted eggplant and tahini), Baba Ganouj, and hummus. The Baba Ganouj was my favorite.
We tried all of the meats from their platters (chicken, ground beef, and tenderloin). I was a fan of all of them, but I’ll definitely order the tenderloin the next time I’m in.
Lahmajun, which is also known as “Armenian Pizza.” It contains minced meat and veggies (seems to be tomato based) and various spices.
Their cheese canoes are amazing. I’m definitely going to be ordering these again. One contained cheese and olives and the other had sliced soujouk (dried beef sausage).
Kibbeh: Lebanese beef croquettes
Dessert! Three different variations of baklava that are made in-house and a tart yogurt with a fruit based sauce and chia seeds.
I had the opportunity to check out JINYA Ramen Bar at Pike & Rose (910 Prose St., next to the Baked Bear and LL Bean) whose grand opening is this coming Tuesday, August 7th, 2018. I was extremely impressed.
JINYA specializes in ramen. Ramen is widely considered a Japanese dish, but there's much debate over whether the noodles were first made in Japan or China. Many say the dishes as invented in China but made popular/trendy in Japan.
Though many credit New York’s Momofuku with making the dish popular in the U.S., the ramen “boom” came about in California when more than 200 spots opened in the area in 2012 alone.
Now that you have a brief background, let’s get into what JINYA has to offer...
Their cocktails are fun, but more importantly, they taste great. They run from $10-$12.
Below you’ll see the:
• Love me some Painappuru (rum, pineapple juice, aperol, and sweet vermouth)
• Garden of Todai-Ji (tequila, matcha basil shochu, agave syrup, fresh lime juice)
• Temple of Love (Heaven Hill bourbon, Cocchi Torino, rosemary foam, JINYA house bitters)
• The Forbidden Kingdom (Nikka gin, fresh lemon juice, fresh orgeat, house bitters, Aperol Aperitif)
I was speaking with one of our area’s top chefs who told me that JINYA is unique because their other dishes are just as great as their ramen. We started with the Brussel Sprouts Tempura (crispy brussel sprouts with white truffle oil).
We moved on to the Takoyaki Octopus. It was battered octopus over egg tartar, topped with kewpie mayonnaise, okononiyaki sauce, fresh cut green onion and smoked bonito flakes. They were very tasty, but also very filling so make sure you don’t eat too many of these (may be hard to do).
The caramelized cauliflower contained toasted pine nuts and, crispy mint leaves, and lime sauce. It was light and tasty.
Ramen time. We had the chance to try four of them. I liked all of them and I’ll reveal my favorite soon. We started with the Tonkotsu Black (pork broth) and Sprouting Up Ramen (pork and chicken broth). Both broths were excellent. The Tonkotsu Black was served with thin noodles and the Sprouting Up was served with thick noodles. I’d give both a shot to find your preference on the type of noodles.
Next were the Tonkotsu Spicy (pork broth) and Spicy Creamy Vegan (vegetable broth). I could taste the kick in the spicy bowl, but it’s not overpowering– a good thing for me. I was surprised that my favorite bowl ended up being the Spicy Creamy Vegan. I love meat, so I wasn’t expecting to be a fan, but I truly thought it was the tastiest of the bunch. Initially, I had a new favorite with each new bowl I tried, but after going back and trying them all again, I am sticking with the Spicy Creamy Vegan as my personal favorite.
Poke bowls are popping up all over the area as well. Poke means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian and refers to chunks of raw, marinated fish (usually tuna), or other meats, which is then tossed over rice and topped with vegetables and various sauces.
JINYA has their own version. Below is the California Bowl. It contains salmon, spicy tuna, shrimp, seaweed salad, masago, avocado, and cilantro over rice.
For dessert we had mochi ice cream. Very similar to most variations of mochi ice cream I’ve had, with green tea and chocolate flavors available.
We finished off our meal with the Toki Highball. JINYA will soon have a Highball machine that will provide “super-carbonated” flavored draft water. The Toki Highball consists of the water mixed with Suntori Toki Whiskey. A great way to end an evening!
It was a little too warm to eat outside in the late afternoon/early evening, but their outdoor seating is going to be awesome based on what I saw.
JINYA has a lot to offer. It’ll be a reasonably priced option with great food for anyone looking to eat at Pike & Rose.
Tucked away in Laytons Village Shopping Center, Julliano’s has been a Laytonsville staple since 1995 (current management has been in charge since 2007).
They’re known for their brick oven pizza, but definitely have a lot more to offer.
Their sodas are served in those red plastic cups that make everything taste better, so that was a plus right off the bat!
We started off with the Anabella. The added veggies/toppings (artichoke hearts, peppers, onions, olives, etc.) are the perfect twist to a classic caprese.
Our main course included the original calzone and the pizza carne. The calzone had italian sausage, pepperoni, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and Italian herbs. It came with a side of very fast tomato/marinara sauce.
The Pizza Carne comes with tomato sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, Italian sausage, and capicola ham. I enjoyed the sauce more than most brick oven pizza sauces. Overall the pizza was great!
We had a great experience at Julliano’s. If you’re ever in the Laytonsville area, stop by and give it a shot!
For most of us, visiting Italy and driving down the Amalfi Coast eating our way from town to town is more of a dream than reality. But what if I told you that you could enjoy the best food the Amalfi Coast has to offer anytime you want, just a minute away in anindustrial part of Rockville? Well, family owned and operated Amalfi Restaurant in Rockville has been doing just that since 1977.
This review could begin and end with the White Pizza. Amalfi has the best White Pizza in the area. Period. Perfectly thin, bubbling with fontina cheese, and seasoned with fresh garlic and herbs; this pizza is as much artwork as it is culinary skills. It is a must have anytime you visit, but keep it on speed dial for carryout.
The Amalfi experience starts with the warm greeting you receive at the host stand (usually from the owner) and continues with the excellent service from familiar faced waiters. The rustic Italian and Onion bread that is served to every table, deserves its own review and shows Amalfi’s dedication to quality and detail. Pastas are made in house daily and food is locally sourced when possible. They use Allen Farms free range chicken, and the quality of their chicken dishes are unmatched. Traditional dishes such as Chicken Parmesan and Marsala are so enhanced by these bone in breasts that you willquestion why you ever accepted a pounded out bird in the past. Seafood options include mussels, clams, shrimp, and calamari that are all prepared delicately and generously portioned in each dish. Dave Hessler- my resident seafood expert- says Amalf’s seafood options have the most “bang for your buck.” And finally save room for the excellent Cannolis.
Amalfi is everything that is missing from most restaurants in the area. A throwback, family owned business that truly values their customers and takes tremendous pride in their food. It is child friendly and perfect for any occasion with plenty of parking. Take a trip to Italy, which you never knew was just around the corner!Amalfi restaurant 12307 Wilkins Ave, Rockville, MD 20852 (301) 770-7888
I finally had the chance to stop by BeClaws in Wheaton (2404 University Blvd.). This Cajun/Asian fusion spot is the perfect place to go when you’re in the mood for seafood with a twist.
We started with the salt and pepper calamari. At first I was looking for something to dip it in, but the jalapeños give it a bit of a kick so a dipping sauce isn’t really necessary. If you’re feeling bold, you can change the calamari for...frog legs!
The bayou sampler was next. The gumbo was my favorite of the three, but I also like the étouffee and jambalaya.
This next item is not currently on the menu, but has been in the past and is still available if ordered. It’s the Cajun Pho.
Finally, I had combo #1. The pot container crawfish, shrimp, corn on the cob, potato, sausage, and rice.
I’ve also heard great things about their happy hour and brunch, so I’m looking forward to stopping by at some point soon for one of those options.
If you’re looking for seafood with a twist, this is a great spot. They have a second location in Hyattsville.
Outdoor all-you-can-eat brunch while watching airplanes take off and land?
Having grown up in Gaithersburg, heading over to The Airport Cafe to watch the planes was something I’d do once every couple years. As I’ve gotten older, enjoying their $15 all-you-can-eat brunch buffet on Sundays has made it a deal that’s tough to beat.
Outdoor seating, plane-watching, brunch, and an inexpensive good time for the whole family.
One of the people in my party this morning is pregnant and the manager/owner came out and personally offered to make her something that wasn’t included in the brunch buffet, which was awesome!
When I asked readers on Twitter and Facebook to share their most underrated places in MoCo (not limited to restaurants), a few brought up Jazmin Cuisine, a Tex-Mex spot that’s tucked away in a quiet strip mall next to a Beer & Wine and a remodeling store.
Jazmin Cuisine is an affordable fast-casual restaurant with a wide variety of really good food.
I tried the steak burrito, a taco salad and the ranchero wings.
The burrito is overstuffed, much like one from Chipotle, but with bigger chunks of steak and ingredients that just tasted a little better. The taco salad was also full of meat and packed with whatever you want included. The wings taste like they were just grilled outside, but that’s probably because they were grilled when I ordered them (on an indoor grill).
I’m glad I was finally able to try it out and see what it was all about. The secret’s out...and they have breakfast!
Growlers has been in Old Town Gaithersburg for decades. They hit a rough patch in 2017 and were forced to close before reopening under new ownership and management in September of the same year. The turbulence continued until new General Manager Jon Thompson, a 2010 graduate of Clarksburg High School, took over at the start of 2018.
Jon can be found at Growlers from open to close almost every day the restaurant is open. He gives it his all and that’s why I wanted to work with him and Growlers to let you all know about the great things happening since he’s taken over.
1. Growlers is in the process of being able to brew their own beer again. Depending on the timing of the licensing it can take anywhere from sox weeks to six months to happen, but I’ve been told it’s definitely something that’s coming back (we have a surprise for you when it does!).
2. The specials and events are almost impossible to beat.
Mondays: All day happy hour and game night. You can play a game like Cards Against Humanity or even bring in your own video game system and they’ll hook it up to a TV for you.
Tuesdays: Tacos & Tequila. $2 Tacos, $4 margaritas, and trivia at 7pm.
Wednesdays: Wings and Water for ridiculous deals on chicken wings and light beer.
Thursdays: Karaoke night. Whether you can barely sing or do this on a regular basis, karaoke night is always a good time.
Fridays/Saturdays: There’s almost always a band or DJ for everyone to enjoy.
Sundays: Jon would like to start a Battle of the Bands for local bands with the winner getting their own show at Growlers on a Friday or Saturday night.
3. Let’s talk food. Jon has worked in the restaurant business for years and has brought some of his favorite recipes with him. He’s revamped the menu and I had the opportunity to try a few of the dishes.
The Growlers Grinder is a smoked and shaved prime rib with chipotle mayo, beer cheese sauce (we’ll revisit this later), fire roasted peppers, and caramelized onions.
This bad boy is The Cowboy Burger. Pub beer bun, beer battered onion ring, pulled pork (smoked at Growlers), cheddar cheese, and coke slaw.
The chimichurri flat iron steak served with steamed broccoli and fried rice. It’s just $15.95, it’s a healthy portion, and it’s good.
I’m not a big fish guy, but this salmon with a pineapple glaze that’s made at Growlers was really good. The rice is awesome and the skewered veggies make for a complete meal. You’ll like this.
Jon refers to the Earthrocker ribeye as his baby. The beef comes from a butcher in Fells Point, it’s marinated in a porter beer, and it’s rubbed down with an espresso and chili powder rub. Served with a side of asparagus.
This is a fun appetizer. A gigantic pretzel that you get to dip into their awesome beer cheese dip. The dip is made from four cheeses, the house beer, tomatoes and jalapeño. I dipped everything into the beer cheese dip.
I haven’t had a chance to try it yet because they rolled it out last week, but it’s affordable and runs both Saturday and Sunday from 10am-3pm.
They’ll be brewing their own beer again very soon, but they still have plenty of choices for you to enjoy!
If you haven’t been to Growlers in 2018, I recommend you check it out. Jon has made some great changes and he’ll do what it takes for you to have a great experience.
Let me start by saying that I’m not a pho expert. I’ve had it in multiple locations in MoCo and have enjoyed at just about every one, but so far one has stood out a little more than others.
I first tried Mi La Cay when I spent “An Afternoon in Wheaton” a couple months back (www.mocoshow.com/blog/an-afternoon-in-wheaton). I went back again a couple weeks back because I really enjoyed myself the first time.
I started with the roasted quail, which was cooked just right and served with a very tasty sauce that contained salt and pepper in it.
I had the Pho La Cay (slightly spicy, but I don’t like too much spice and this was just fine for me). The broth was very flavorful and there was plenty of meat in the soup. The noodles were also good.
Mi La Cay came highly recommended by our Twitter followers, it’s not expensive, and I’ve really enjoyed the pho both times I’ve been to the restaurant. Definitely worth a shot if you’re in Wheaton.
This place came highly recommended to me by many people on Twitter when I did my tour of Wheaton, but I was unable to make it due to the timing of my visit.
Today I was able to make it...and it didn’t disappoint.
I’ve had decent ramen in MoCo before, but I tend to travel to DC when I want really good ramen. Now I know I don’t have to venture out that far. This was amazing.
I got the The Sapporo style Shoyu Ramen (soy sauce flavored soup made with a pork based broth). I added pork belly, corn, a seasoned boiled egg, and butter. I’m currently in a ramen coma, sitting in my car, as I write this. It was great.
It’s a small place so there’s not a lot of room to eat for bigger crowds, but I am officially joining the folks over on Twitter as a big supporter of Ren’s Ramen.
NOTE: Ren’s Ramen is CASH ONLY and parking can be very hard to find (street parking is likely going to be necessary).
I love food. On this tab, you will see some of my favorite dishes and restaurants in MoCo!