Lakeside Asia Cafe is hidden away in a little shopping center in Reston. Little did I know that this little Asian gem was minutes from my office. I'd driven by it many times, even dined at the same shopping center for ages now and never paid the little Asian cafe much attention. It's a small place, with a tiny, four-seat bar and probably ten to 15 tables max, but the food has big spicy flavors that I always enjoy. I've tried many of the dishes from the various sections on the menu, Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Japanese, and I've never had a bad meal.
For starters, definitely try the spicy beef jerky. No one at the table
would share it with me, since it doesn't look like the most appetizing
appetizer in the world, but that just meant there was more for me. It's
got incredible flavor! Although, not horribly spicy, I'm sure they'd
kick it up a bit if you ask them to.
My favorite entree is any Kung Pao dish. I usually go with chicken, which is always tender and not fatty or chewy. In a similar manor to the kung pao that I get at Joe's Noodle House, it's got some kick to it and plenty of garlic. Chicken Rangoon is another star on the menu with crispy snow peas and tender dark chicken meat that's had all the fat removed from it. You also can't go wrong with the curries from the Thai section of the menu. Yellow, red, green, they're all good. The creamy yellow curry is definitely my favorite, although I wish it had a little more kick to it.
The prices on the menu are very reasonable. Whole Peking duck is the most expensive thing on the menu at $36, but everything else is between $7 and $15. Lunch portions are available for everything, but are still fairly large making it an ideal lunch stop. Definitely give it a try for lunch if you're in the area!
Lakeside Asia Cafe
11130J South Lakes Drive
Reston, VA 20191
Continuing with my "lunch in Reston" theme, I thought I would talk a little about a couple Indian Buffets that I enjoy in Reston.
The first is Minerva. Well, I guess it's not exactly Reston, but I'll be honest, Virginia confuses the hell out of me. If I move there, I'll have to buy a GPS Nav System because I have no clue where I'm going when I'm across the river. Minerva has a very large buffet, with a whole section of chutneys and raita, five or six vegetarian curries, and five or six chicken and lamb entrees. The tandoori chicken is as better than you'll find most any buffets, and they had some seriously good paneer makhani. Two kinds of bread, naan and paratha, also help me rank Minerva high in my Indian buffet experiences. They even keep a pitcher of water on the table so you don't have to worry about running out of water.
Minerva Review in Washingtonian
The second is a place called Mayuri Indian Cuisine. Like Minerva, they have a very good selection of entrees at the buffet, although they lose points for the butter chicken. Butter chicken is a major no-no when it comes to Indian buffets. However, it's close to where I work and not terribly crowded, unlike Minerva. Plus the tandoori chicken is equally good as Minerva's, and the chili chicken is spicy enough to make me drink a sip of water after each bite. I go back just for this dish.
Mayuri Web Site
Of course, don't be surprised if you feel like cattle in these places. The servers' job is to get you in, get you full, and get you out so someone else can sit down. I can't blame them really. Buffets are an extremely low margin business for a restaurant, and if they don't do a lot of volume, they don't make much on them. But for the price, you can't really beat either Minerva or Mayuri.
But I'm always open to suggestions for alternatives...