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Local Soul Food Restaurant Elicits "Oohs and Aahs"

Published: Monday, September 13, 2004

Updated: Sunday, August 10, 2008 00:08

Oohs and Aahs. The name says it all. Oohs and Aahs soul food pleases even the toughest critics. Recognized as restaurant of the month by the Washington City Paper, Oohs and Aahs has been a success since its opening in January 2004. Nestled in between the gamut of beauty salons and shoe shiners on the corner of 10th and U Streets, right across from the U Street/Cardozo metro station, Oohs and Aahs meshes perfectly with the rich flavor of historical U Street.

Like most businesses on U Street, Oohs and Aahs is black-owned. India and Oji, natives of the District, are not only business partners but will soon be partners in marriage.

Their successful juncture was a result of India's soulful background and Oji's love for cooking. Oji received a Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management degree from Stanford University. About a year after graduating the opportunity to open Oohs and Aahs allowed them both to live the dream.

But what makes Oohs and Aahs a success without the help of paid advertising? Most say it's the great food, cooked from scratch.

Janean Robinson, mother of Jennifer Robinson, a sophomore engineer major, said she eats at Oohs and Aahs when she drives from Virginia to visit her daughter.

"I have tried everything. I try to eat healthy so I stick with their baked chicken, baked fish, string beans and cabbage. I remember when I first ate here, I was so surprised at how delicious their healthy choice selections are, but I have to say their lump meat crab cakes are my favorite."

Elana Williams, a senior fashion merchandising major, partook in the delight of Oohs and Aahs for the first time and found herself a loyal customer with the first bite.

"If you like shrimp, then you will love their Cajun grilled shrimp with butter rice. After eating here, I feel obliged to tell everybody I know. And I had to admit, the mac-n-cheese tastes just like my moms but better."

When asked how do they view their success and what is in the future for Oohs and Aahs, India, in a state of tranquility replied, "When we first opened there was a line outside the door because people could smell what we were cooking. We got a great response and have maintained loyal customers ever since. From that day on, word of mouth has kept us going nine months strong. It also helps that Oji and I work great together. He is an excellent cook and I am a real people person," India said. "We love our neighbors and the diversity of our customers that range from councilmen, to students, and local artists of all kinds."

"When it comes to our future with Oohs and Aahs, we are not looking to branch out too soon because it is so much work. We give ourselves about a year and a half before we decide to expand."

On their menu are the traditional soul food choices such as macaroni and cheese, yams, butter cornbread and collard greens. In addition to turkey chops, turkey burgers, chicken wings, buffalo, and BBQ along with healthy veggies, baked fish and chicken, they serve breakfast too.

To experience firsthand some of the culture in D.C., take some time and converse with Oohs and Aahs' loyal customers or with India and Oji. You could get lucky and take home one of their old family secrets.

Currently, Oohs and Aahs is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. and from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. They deliver all over the District and have serviced many in the East and West Towers. They are located at 1001 U Street NW. For faster service call your order in before picking it up at 202-667-7142 and everything is cooked when ordered.

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