What fusion means now

It’s been around a month and a half since Restaurantarama first detected a certain lovely smell wafting across the Downtown Mall. That was the scent of a spicy rumor about an Asian fusion restaurant going into the former Rattle & Roll space—a rumor we’ve now confirmed. Rekha Mukhia, the woman behind the whispers, sat down with us to talk about her plans for Himalayan Fusion.
    First off, Mukhia explained, “fusion” in this case doesn’t mean that Asian fare will join with American. Instead, she aims to re-create the cuisine of her native Darjeeling, India, where Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan foods mingled to delicious effect. Himalayan Fusion will serve up Indian favorites like tandoori chicken; also look for Nepalese curries (“compared to most curries, not as spicy or heavy,” says Mukhia) and salads (potato and sesame seed salad, for example). The Tibetan part of the equation will mean dumplings and noodle soups.
    There’s even some Chinese influence; Mukhia recalls a dish called “chow chow” from Darjeeling that was really a variation on lo mein. She says vegetarians will have lots of choices at her place, and that her husband Nabin Lama will be doing most of the cooking. Two big tandoori ovens will anchor the place’s open-kitchen layout; also look for a full bar, outdoor seating on the Mall, and a lunch buffet.
    This is Mukhia’s first restaurant venture; she and Lama, along with their three kids, moved to Free Union from Bethesda, Maryland, in July and have kept busy selling cell phones and jewelry from several small kiosks in Fashion Square Mall. Himalayan Fusion will open June 1, after a crew of Mennonite workers finishes transforming the space. Smells great to us.

Get it to go

The Charlottesville pizza landscape continues to shift, with new choices sprouting up all around the outskirts of town. Two weeks ago we introduced you to Fabio Esposito of Fabio’s N.Y. Pizza, soon to open in the former Pizza Hut space on High Street. This week, we present Brian Washington.  He’s getting set to open Vocelli Pizza in Woodbrook Shopping Center, where he’ll serve up your pizzas, your subs, and your strombolis. Washington promises an “upscale Italian” look and a killer salad selection, including antipasto.
    Vocelli will be a strictly takeout-and-delivery operation; Washington has 11 years of Domino’s employment under his belt, so we can say with confidence that the man knows pies. If you’re one of the first 100 people to show up to his grand opening on May 3, he’ll even give you a free one! 

Something sweet

For a while now, the former Coyote space next door to the White Spot (the well-known Corner burger-and-gyro joint) has had paper on the windows. Restaurant-arama loves paper on windows; it always means some new tasty thing is on its way. Lo and behold, the paper’s come down, and what should appear but dessert! An expansion of the White Spot, the “Sweet Spot” serves up Hershey’s ice cream, to be enjoyed on old-fashioned stools. (The name’s unofficial, says owner Dimitrios Tavampis: “The customers give it that name.”) Our ice cream informants tell us the place has been packed since it opened a couple of weeks ago. Students must be getting their sundaes on—just in time for summer.

There’s no Culture anymore

Folks, Southern Culture (which has been for sale for some time) is now closed up as tight as a drum. No more brunch, no more shrimp and grits on the W. Main Street patio—unless, of course, someone buys the place and brings back the old ways. We’ll stay on the story as it develops.

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