When Thaddeus Kim was a kid, his parents would joke about creating a restaurant that combined his father’s Korean heritage and his mother’s native Cajun cuisine. He’s proud to have made it a reality at Sterling’s Mokomandy, a gem that was among Northern Virginia Magazine‘s annual 50 Best Restaurants list since 2011. The unlikely fusion finally attained the top place on our list in 2019. It will not be on the 2020 list.
Kim announced to us today that he has closed Mokomandy due to the coronavirus. “We can’t operate at the very high level we were at in terms of our food, people and our quality,” he say. “Basically, we were not cutting any corners.”
Mokomandy was adored for its dumplings, whether stuffed with melting foie gras or gochujang-spiced bison. Shrimp and grits and shrimp étouffée shared menu space with Korean fried chicken and beef bulgogi. “We somehow made those two cuisines work together and deliver an experience to you … It was a business that we started basically out of wanting to do something right and not for any other reason but to tell the story,” says Kim.
Kim explains that with social distancing regulations in place, he would not be able to support his 51-seat restaurant, which had no patio, especially when he needed to pay the experienced staff he is proud to call his “restaurant family.”
To his loyal customers, he says, “I would just like to say, ‘Thank you,’ for accepting us and making us part of your life. For so many of our customers, making us part of your weekly or monthly routine. Thank you for all the memories.”
What’s next for Kim? Ever an optimist, he already has thoughts: “I’ll probably spend some more time creating another type of business, adapting to the changes in the world,” he says. We can’t wait to taste his next act.
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