By Nate Ogle
Nestled in a shopping center at the corner of Route 50 and Patrick Henry Drive in the Seven Corners area, New Orleans Cajun Seafood serves up a tasty variety of Cajun cuisine. The menu covers all of the bases, from one Cajun food staple to another. Guests can start off with a savory Jambalaya while waiting for a Po’ Boy or platter of boiled shellfish slathered in a sauce of their choice. But beyond the food served up at New Orleans Cajun Seafood is a story of humble beginnings.
The Nguyen family had been fishing the waters of the Gulf of Mexico since they began to plant roots in the Louisiana-Mississippi area in 1978. Hailing from Vietnam, they enjoyed not only life on the Gulf, but also the region’s acclaimed Cajun fare. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina turned their world upside down. In addition to the loss of a brand-new house, the family lost their livelihood when their boat was flipped and damaged. Thankfully, a sister living in Orlando helped the family relocate there. For the Nguyen’s it only made sense to use their knowledge of Cajun recipes for a business venture. They opened up the first New Orleans Cajun Seafood restaurant there in 2007.
After a very successful few years, especially with the local Vietnamese community, the Nguyens decided to open up a new location in Northern Virginia because of the large Vietnamese population here. Run by Khanh Nguyen and his wife, Sherry, the Seven Corners branch opened in April 2013.
Immediately upon entering the restaurant, one is struck by the unassuming layout. Several tables dot the front of the dining room and a large counter protrudes from the kitchen. Just like the layout might suggest, New Orleans Cajun Seafood forsakes the rustic frills of other Cajun-style restaurants and focuses entirely on the food. Everything is served on disposable plates, as opposed to metal buckets.
The menu offers an extensive variety of fried seafood, including soft shell crab, shrimp, catfish, and oysters. While the fried fare is sure to satisfy the casual customer, New Orleans Cajun Seafood specializes in all sorts of boiled shellfish, from snow crab legs to shrimp, but their specialty is crawfish. Shellfish from the boiled menu come in two-pound heaps and is served in a foil container and doused in the customer’s chosen sauce. Options include a butter sauce, a garlic sauce, their special Cajun sauce, and the “New Orleans Mixin’” which is a tasty combination of all three.
When customers order a crawfish entrée, a friendly waitress will likely ask a very important question: Have you ever eaten crawfish before? If the answer is no, they may get a gasp, a very sympathetic look, and an enthusiastic demonstration of proper crawfish-eating technique, including how to suck the meat out of the head.
The boiled critters succulent, and Cajun Seafood also offers some hard to beat specials. Every weekend, they offer a four-course meal brunch special that includes a jambalaya appetizer, an order from both the fried and boiled menus, and beignets for dessert, for only $22.95. In addition to the brunch special, customers are encouraged to dine before 7 p.m. to take advantage of the early bird special that entitles them to an extra pound of their desired steamed shellfish.
New Orleans Cajun Seafood is located at 6168 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church. For more information, call 703-536-2288 or visit NewOrleansCajunSeafoodVA.com.