Hidden [Food] Gems in Richmond
By: Colby Alvino, Staff Writer
Don't know what new foodie place to try around Richmond? Look no further, we've got you covered with our list of Top 10 hidden gems!
THE FANCY BISCUIT// 1831 W. Cary St. Who doesn’t like anything Southern style? The Fancy Biscuit does Southern food right, like its Shrimp & Grits, Fried Green Tomatoes served with homemade pimento cheese, Tomato Pie and, of course, biscuits! “It’s more than just a biscuit,” said owner Nicole Jessee. “A lot of biscuit places serve biscuits. At The Fancy Biscuit, we serve biscuits that require a fork and knife. People are always surprised to see that our signature biscuits are a complete meal, and not just a biscuit sandwich.” Choose to B.Y.O.B—build your own biscuit—starting with a buttermilk biscuit base and more than 20 toppings to choose from. BILLY JACK’S SHACK// 1409 E. Cary St. The best friend duo behind Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint decided that they wanted to offer their customers more than just burgers, beers and fried Oreos, but didn’t want to get rid of JB’s simple concept. So they decided to open Billy Jack’s Shack. The laid-back spot offers comfort food like chicken nuggets prepared multiple ways, and craft beer and cocktails, while still maintaining a fun bar atmosphere, just like JB’s.
SOUL TACO // 321 N. Second St. Sitting on a quiet street in the heart of Jackson Ward, Soul Taco serves up tacos that blend Southern and Latin American flavors, like the Buttermilk Battered Fried Chicken Taco and the Smoked Mac and Queso-dilla. “Our restaurant is small, but it’s colorful and lively and looks like no other space in Richmond,” said co-owner Nar Hovnanian. “We believe that Soul Taco is one of Richmond’s top hidden food gems because we’re fusing unlikely flavors and putting them in tacos, everyone’s favorite food.”
JING SUSHI// 7019 Three Chopt Rd. Have you ever ventured down the path in the Village Shopping Center? Back there, you’ll come across Jing Sushi, formerly known as Mai Sushi. Jing Sushi is known for its modern twist of classic sushi dishes and its commit- ment to only using high quality fresh ingredients. Don’t skip over the Spicy Girl Roll, with spicy raw tuna avocado on the inside, spicy crab and wasabi tobiko on top. Top it all off with fried ice cream for dessert.
MY NOODLE & BAR // 1600 Monument Avenue Tucked in a corner off of Monument Avenue lies My Noodle & Bar. The restaurant’s owner, Joe Kiatsura- non, learned his culinary techniques from his mom. As a native of Thailand, Kiatsuranon is serving up noodle dishes he has created with influences from all over the world. The Sesame Noodles are a must-have, which are prepared with crispy chicken, carrots, mushrooms, scallion and fresh basil leaves tossed in pan-fried egg noodles. Make sure to start out with an order of the Crispy Fried Brussels Sprouts, too.
SABAI// 2727 W. Broad St Although Sabai might seem unassuming from the outside, you are immediately greeted with funky hanging tables, chairs and planters the second you walk in the door. As a Thai restaurant, Sabai creates authentic dishes that one could argue are directly from the streets of Bangkok. Try one of the curries. Each dish is served with jasmine rice and your choice of chick- en, beef or pork.
SEN ORGANIC SMALL PLATE// 2901 W. Cary St. As a family-owned restaurant, Sen Organic Small Plate owner Hang Pham serves authentic dishes using traditional recipes she learned in Vietnam, like pho and banh mi. “We have a wide variety of vegan and vegetarian options, in addition to gluten-free options, in order to cater to diners with dietary restrictions or allergies,” said manager Chloe Ngo. “Our menu items are organic, and a majority are locally sourced from farms within the area. All of our food is made with care and attention, and we really value our customers and the Richmond community.”
EDO’S SQUID// 411 N. Harrison St. This tiny hole-in-the-wall in Richmond’s bustling downtown dishes out authentic pasta dishes from spaghetti tossed in carbonara sauce to penne with marinara. Walk up the stairs and find yourself among only a few small tables, allowing for an intimate dining experience. Expect to get what you pay for, and then some, because these serving sizes are colossal.
FIGHTING FISH// 317 N. 2nd St. Fighting Fish is a 28-seat restaurant offering its guests wine, beer, sake, sushi, raw fish, poke and everything in between. “Our staff, from the servers to the kitchen crew, are some of the best in the industry,” said owner and chef Hyon Ko. “We provide fresh fish with unique spins on sushi.” Although servers recommend that first-timers try the poke, it’s hard to pass up one of the sushi burritos. The Fighting Fish Sushi Burrito is a roll-style burrito stuffed with kani, cucumber, avocado, lettuce, pickled red onion, pickled radish, red tobiko, sesame seeds, garlic lime sauce and kabayaki sauce. You can also choose a protein by picking from tuna, salmon or shrimp tempura.
LEHJA// 11800 W. Broad St., #910 Lehja is an Indian restaurant located in Short Pump Town Center, so it is the perfect spot to eat after a long day of shopping. In Urdu, the restaurant’s name translates to “accent,” and in Punjabi, which is the executive chef’s mother language, it translates to “style.” “If you have never tried a cuisine, trying it gives you a sense of pride,” said chef, owner and Mid-Atlantic James Beard Award Semifinalist Sandeep “Sunny” Baweja. “In terms of Indian food, there are still many people who haven’t tried it. We give everyone the best experience so that the cuisine is part of their culture and part of their journey.” For those new to Indian food, Baweja recommends starting with the Chaat du Jour, because it is inspired by the foods of India. Another great appetizer for those who have never tried Indian food is the Gobhi Manchurian, which consists of cauliflower florets in a zesty soy-tomato-chili glaze.
For dinner, try the Butter Chicken. If you’re not interested in a meat entree, have the Saag Paneer, which is creamed-style spinach, chunks of paneer cheese and slowly simmered spices.