It's early in the day when the airplanes land on Virginia soil, bearing fresh seafood from such far-off places as Maine, Hawaii, and Japan. Lumbering trucks transport the cargo to the town of Sterling, where Hooked chefs await to fillet and prepare the catches for the night's dinner. The sushi chefs carve plump morsels of tuna and yellowtail in traditional Japanese style before rolling them into intricate rolls adorned with mango, caviar, and tempura. Meanwhile, the kitchen chefs tend to grills of sizzling teriyaki dishes and simmering pans of lemongrass halibut and hand-cut steak. The Hooked team has been crafting these fresh dishes and innovative specialties for the last seven years, earning accolades from Northern Virginia Magazine and Taste of Reston in the process.
Vibrant photographs of the chef's dishes flash across the flat screen in the sleek dining room, casting a glow across the contemporary dining room. Cushy booths surround vibrant red tables, and glimmering curtains dangle above the dining room. On the outdoor patio, a dancing fountain gushes with streams of water alongside a central fireplace roaring with flames. The staff strives to recreate an apropos oceanic atmosphere at the restaurant, lighting up seating areas in shades of turquoise and sea-green and requiring all servers to master basic seal calls.
BGR The Burger Joint’s burgers start with high-quality ingredients—most importantly, all-natural beef from grain-fed cattle, free to run in the fields and given zero hormones, fillers, or antibiotics. The prime beef is dry-aged, blended, and ground fresh to form patties that are grilled over an open flame, and then placed atop buttery, locally made brioche buns delivered fresh each day. The menu focuses on the Legendary Burger, which includes gourmet toppings such as avocado, applewood bacon, and grilled jalapenos. For nonbeef eaters, the menu's selection of burgers also includes turkey and veggie varieties, as well as The Greek, a seasoned lamb patty topped with tzatziki and feta. Burgers are also available in a lettuce wrap or on a salad in a healthy salad bowl.
Diners can request all of BGR The Burger Joint's freshly made fries—from thick-cut yukon gold potatoes to asparagus fries—be topped with parmesan, rosemary, roasted garlic, or a tiny tiara. The staff hand-spins shakes with Gifford's or Breyers ice cream to create extra-thick treats for finishing off meals, and some shops curate their own selection of bottled vintage sodas and offer beer and wine.
Sahara Lebanese Cuisine’s fresh, authentic Middle Eastern dishes come courtesy of timeworn family recipes passed down through multiple generations of culinary expertise. At the helm of the kitchen, the head chef—with 16 years of experience—manages a staff of five talented chefs, each dedicated to creating housemade Lebanese favorites, from falafel and gyro sandwiches to baked red snapper, pomegranate lamb kebabs, and other dinner specialties.
In the dining room, the Middle Eastern-inspired design scheme, including arches overhead, complements the fare with another element of Lebanese authenticity. Neighboring the dining room, an on-site hookah lounge facilitates shisha consumption in a variety of flavors. Coffee and tea drinkers, meanwhile, can finish off a cup of Turkish coffee and then decipher their fortune or a forgotten PIN from the grounds.
At The Pollo Factory, three generations’ worth of Peruvian-cooking expertise infuses dishes such as crispy fried yucca and plantains, savory chicken, and ocean-fresh ceviche with years of cherished tradition. The scent of roasting la brasa chicken sends stomachs into quivering, hungry rumbles, and the sight of endlessly swirling rotisserie skewers hypnotizes eyes. Shellfish and squid mingle with zesty citrus marinades on plates of ceviche as scallop paella blends presentation and flavor with colorful yellow rice, red pepper, and green parsley. Other Peruvian specialties such as imported choclo corn, marinated beef-heart kebabs, and olive-stuffed tamales introduce taste buds to new horizons.
Otani Japanese Steak & Seafood falls into a familiar rhythm around mealtimes. Chefs man tabletop hibachi grills and sear platefuls of filet mignon, scallops, or chicken right in front of patrons while entertaining them with witty banter, dexterous displays of culinary skill, and their ability to peel shrimp telepathically. Meanwhile, the sushi chefs avoid open flames entirely as they carefully tuck lobster, spring mix, or wasabi aioli into their signature rolls. The entire staff matches the friendly, energetic service of the chefs, striving to greet every guest by name by their second or even first visit.
Chefs at Zeïtoon pack a menu of grilled Mediterranean specialties with fresh produce sourced from fair-trade and eco-friendly farms. Traditional starters such as falafel, bruschetta, and tzatziki served with pita bread complement crisp salads, and entrees such as kebabs and gourmet pizzas use halal meats. A multitude of vegetarian options are also available, including pastas, salads, and pizzas. As they wait for their meals, patrons can peer behind the sleek green counter to watch chefs deftly flip kofta patties and juggle olives with baby-size carbon footprints.