Chef Ram Thapa has been cooking mostly the northern Indian food familiar to western diners for his whole career in the United States. Most recently, he was the force behind the kitchen at London Curry House in Alexandria. But that restaurant will be reborn today with a new concept and menu, one closer to Thapa’s heart. At Indochen, the chef finally gets to cook the Indo-Chinese cuisine that he focused on in his years following culinary school in Nepal.
We just wrote about one casual Indo-Chinese restaurant in Herndon, but Indochen’s cuisine, which Thapa describes as “Chinese dishes adapted using Indian flavors and spices,” while more casual than London Curry House, will be a bit fancier than the takeout-focused spots you can find throughout the region.
That’s not to say there won’t be familiar flavors to those who already love the fusion cuisine. Vegetable Manchurian, for instance, a dish of crispy veggie balls in spicy garlic soy sauce, has its place on the menu. But diners will find it alongside chefed-up plates like melon chaat, which features compressed melon with spiced yogurt.
Like many of us, Thapa used quarantine to amp up his culinary skills. That included learning to use an immersion circulator. His sous-vide dishes include tandoori-spiced salmon, which is cooked sous vide for 24 hours, then served with creamy spinach and mushrooms. A pork belly appetizer is cooked sous vide for 12 hours and finished with a spiced orange glaze.
For London Curry House fans, there are also classic Indian dishes. You can start with samosas, then move on to lamb rogan josh or tandoori chicken.
Ashok Tamang, who owns the restaurant alongside Kumar KC and Hari Lama, is a beverage specialist whose background includes Bourbon Steak, Fiola Mare and other fine dining restaurants in DC. He oversees a wine list with more than 100 bottles, as well as a beer program that focuses on domestic brews and Indian bottles. His cocktails are on the simple side to let the outsize Indo-Chinese flavors stand out. They include an Indian mule, flavored with mango vodka. The signature tipple is a 30-day-barrel-aged Manhattan, a popular drink carried over from London Curry House.
Indochen is open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday through Sunday for indoor dining and takeout. // 4906 Brenman Park Drive, Alexandria
Photo by Maya Oren/MOJALVO
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