Ethnic eats

Published 12:51 pm Thursday, May 29, 2014

At Totoy's Filipino Store in North Suffolk, Lynn Carbonell helps her sons Reggie Felipe—on the knife—and Ryan Felipe prepare some tasty traditional dishes.

At Totoy’s Filipino Store in North Suffolk, Lynn Carbonell helps her sons Reggie Felipe—on the knife—and Ryan Felipe prepare some tasty traditional dishes.

Suffolk offers something for every palate

Turning Suffolk on to ethnic tastes is all about education, according to Lynn Carbonell’s experience.

In 2008, she and husband Ronald Felipe established Totoy’s Filipino Store, which includes a Filipino restaurant, at The Market Center at Harbour View shopping center.

“People in our area have been really good — they’ve been willing to try,” Carbonell said.


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Totoy’s gives away samples of its fare, which includes an array of traditional Filipino dishes, to cultivate return customers, according to Carbonell.

“I tell them (that) if they don’t like it, it won’t hurt my feelings,” she said. “I’d rather them try it here than they take it home and they don’t like it, because then they won’t come back.”

With about eight Italian eateries, half a dozen Mexican restaurants, a quintessential soul food joint, a Thai place and a slew of Japanese and Chinese restaurants — not to mention the Indian eatery that just opened in Harbour View — Suffolk’s ethnic menu is growing as the city grows.

Comparing censuses, Suffolk has become more ethnically diverse in recent years, though very modestly. In 2000, 0.2 percent of the population was Asian-Indian, while in 2010 it was 0.3 percent. For Filipinos, it’s been 0.3 percent to 0.6 percent.

Mary Chen, the manager, sits at a table at Tokyo Grill in the city's downtown.

Mary Chen, the manager, sits at a table at Tokyo Grill in the city’s downtown.

Paul Chhabra opened Suffolk’s first Indian restaurant, Rajput Indian Cuisine, in March. He already had restaurants in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, but said that folks had been asking him to come to Suffolk for five years.

“I told them, ‘Later on,’” Chhabra said. When the demographics — he paid for research — had grown favorable, he became a man of his word:

“This was the time we saw developments going in,” he said. “I included Chesapeake and Portsmouth in my demographics. If it was just Suffolk, maybe not. This area is a little triangle.”

Back at Totoy’s, regular customer Bobby Dunn, who lives a few streets away, comes through the front door. “I didn’t know what to order (the first time), but now I love everything,” Dunn says. “I come here once a week, at least. Sometimes twice.”

Carbonell’s husband and three sons, aged 17 to 24, work with her in the restaurant. Folks from the nearby U.S. Navy commands and Joint and Coalition Warfighting at Lakeview Technology Park and various defense contractors help keep them busy.

Paul Chhabra, seated inside the restaurant during a recent busy lunch period, owns Rajput Indian Cuisine at Harbour View—Suffolk's first Indian eatery.

Paul Chhabra, seated inside the restaurant during a recent busy lunch period, owns Rajput Indian Cuisine at Harbour View—Suffolk’s first Indian eatery.

“I get them used to my cooking, then they get sent somewhere else,” Carbonell, a former Navy child herself, says of her military customers. “Then they will come back and say, ‘In the area I got sent’ — Texas or Washington state — ‘they don’t have a Filipino restaurant.’

“I know that I have opened up people’s minds to Filipino cuisine.”

Mary Chen, manager of Tokyo Grill in downtown Suffolk, said most of her customers are regulars who come “once or twice a week.”

“A lot of customers come to be friends, they come so often,” she said.

Ethnic food guide


Iron Chef Japanese Restaurant

1024 Centerbrook Lane


A Japanese favorite just off Goodwin Boulevard

Koi Sushi & Hibachi

3575 Bridge Road, Suite 23


Sushi artists prepare from a varied menu

Nana Sushi

6255 College Drive, Suite J


Signature rolls include the Tokyo Love Story

Ninja Japanese Restaurant

7386 Harbour Towne Parkway,

Suite 35


Full bar and hibachi grill

Sapporo Japanese

Steakhouse and Sushi

729 N. Main St.


A friendly favorite in a convenient downtown location

Tokyo Grill

1409 N. Main St.


Customers become friends, the manager says

YoYo Sushi

5886 Harbour View Blvd.


Sushi and pho noodles, too


China Moon Chinese Restaurant

938 N. Main St.


A varied menu and online ordering

China Village

217 E. Washington St.


Good food, attentive staff and inexpensive

Dragon Chinese

827 W. Constance Road


Classic Chinese in the heart of Suffolk

Great Wall

1524 Holland Road


Another Chinese favorite

Hong Kong Restaurant

3215 Bridge Road, suite 2A


Longtime North Suffolk location

Hong Kong II

1008 Portsmouth Blvd.


Hit Chinese favorites

Peking House

3575 Bridge Road, Suite 16


Serving the Route 17 area

Shun Xing

2815 Godwin Blvd.


Convenient to the King’s Fork area

Super China

6550 Town Point Road, Suite 102


Near Harbour View

Win Wok Chinese Restaurant

1238 Holland Road


A fixture near the Suffolk Golf Course



5860 Harbour View Blvd.


Suffolk’s first Indian restaurant has proven popular


Amici’s Pizza Café

157 E. Washington St.


Brick-oven pizzas are a specialty

Al Forno Pizzeria

1523 Holland Road


Born in Palermo, Italy, owner Nunzio has been a restaurateur since 1977

Atlas Pizza

3575 Bridge Road, Suite 15


Thin-crust and thicker, Sicilian-style

Bella Napoli Pizza

6550 Town Point Road, Suite 101


Convenient to Huntersville

Gianna’s Pizzeria & Restaurant

7386 Harbour Towne Parkway,

Suite 33


Elegant atmosphere, good food and comfortable booths

Sal’s Pizza

148 Burnett’s Way, Suite 115


Popular eatery near Obici Hospital

Sal’s Pizzeria by Maurizio

920 N. Main St.


Pizza, cold and hot subs, wraps and more


Cazadores Mexican Restaurant

1701 N. Main St.


A family favorite near Elephant’s Fork

Chipotle Mexican Grill

6216 College Drive, Suite 101


A new contender in North Suffolk

East Coast Taco Company

116 West Washington St.


Downtown destination for authentic Mexican food

La Parrilla Mexican Restaurant

7386 Harbour Towne Parkway,

Suite 9



3575 Bridge Road, Suite 32

Two locations for this popular eatery

Moe’s Southwest Grill

1217 North Main St.


Chain restaurant with a tex-mex appeal

Plaza Azteca

1467 N. Main St.


Fun atmosphere and good value

Santa Fe Grille

1024 Centerbrooke Lane


Convenient location near Route 58


NDulge Eclectic Soul Cuisine

200 E. Washington St.


Soul food favorites in a family-friendly environment


Thai Erawan

3575 Bridge Road, Suite 27


Thai favorites in an elegant setting