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Nava Thai, Suchart and Ladavan Srigatesook on Fern Street in Wheaton

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Nava Thai is at the back of the Hung Fat Thai Market on Fern Street in Wheaton. It is closed on Wednesdays. Our first visit did not register much and we have not been back in a while. But recently I have heard good things so we gave it a try!

Sunday after Thanksgiving, and wife & I needed a good lunch to get the juices flowing before going into the restaurant for a long day of accounting issues & running the restaurant for dinner. Soup was in order. We first thought about a run to Bob's Shabu squared but it was too far. Sergio's for pupusas & chicken soup sounded perfect so we drove there. When we parked around the corner I saw Nava Thai across the street. So despite our so so first meal there we returned. Good move!

We had a couple of bowls of soup & a plate of Som Tum. I had the market noodle soup with pork. My only quibble was the sweetness level of the broth, but I fear that this may just as likely be an issue of the sweetness level being proper and my just not liking it that sweet as any other reason. But since it was corrected with the addition of a little vinegar with hot chiles, what the heck. The nonrubbery and surprisingly flavorful mystery-meatballs were particularly good, the pork abundant and flavorful. Kay had the roast duck stew soup and it was fine with a lot of spice from the duck. The Som Tum was wondrous! Fiery hot, with a thicker dressing that made a more complete whole of the dish. It wasn't a simple salad of papaya in a dressing but a complex whole. I loved the use of the green beans and the squished grape tomatoes added flavor, a little relief from the considerable heat and a nice texture contrast. Unlike the recent som tum at both Ruan Thai and Thai Square, this one lacked the tiny dried shrimp but the dressing had lots of the powdered crustaceans in there. Simply the best Som Tum I have had in ages (since the hole in the wall in East Hollywood or the joints on sherman way in the San Fernando Valley of LA).

Based on a small sample size, I think that Nava is now equal to Thai Square and for many dishes, ahead of Ruan Thai. But Ruan Thai has some stuff I have never had before and does such a superb job on their veggie components of their dishes that much careful consideration will have to be given to both. But for general eating, Nava is now ahead of Ruan, but I will go to Ruan when I feel like their wonderful eggplant dishes (which is often) or the steamed bun mi and chicken in red curry at lunch.

Superb food, cheap ($36 for three beers and 3 dishes served by a wonderfully sweet server who was so concerned that we like their food. The heat kept me going all day and long into the night!! I am sure this will be a first of many visits back.

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Tried to get a seat at Royal Mile last night for their sea chanty singing. After waiting in the bar area drinking beers and eating scotch eggs (delicious) for an hour, we gave up and decided to walk over to Nava Thai.

We arrived at 9:15 not realizing that they close at 9 pm. They told us they had closed but as we talked towards the door dejected, they offered to serve us. This was our second visit here and both times the dining room only had one other table taken. We used to be regulars at Ruan Thai, but we have now defected. Hopefully, it's only a matter of time before this place gets discovered.

Anyway, on our last visit we ordered the curry puffs, Pad See Ew, and penang curry all of which were delicious. They even prepared some steamed vegetables on the side that we specially requested for our toddler who was dining with us.

Last night, I started with the curry puffs again and then decided to try the Floating Market Noodle Soup filled with Noodles, Pork, Meatballs, and the Thai version of Cracklin. When asked how spicy I wanted it, I foolishly responded very spicy. It was probably one of the spiciest things I eated, but it was amazing and ate every drop (my face sweating the whole time). The broth had a sweet and spicy taste unlike anything I had ever had. My wife had the penangy curry again and loved it. A friend of ours had one of their clay pot dishes and said she hadn't eaten anything like it since their trip to Thailand this past summer and our other friend had a crispy pork dish, which was bursting with a sweet and spicy flavor (not as spicy as the soup) and fried texture.

At the end of the meal, not only were we so grateful that they decided to stay open longer just for us, but even more grateful for the delicious meal we had eaten.

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Nava thai

Criss-crossed squid salad, with slivered stir-fried celery most prominent among the additions to a dish that on one small plate celebrates just about everything you expect in good thai cooking – hot, sour, sweet, crunchy. (thai cusine excels at distinct crunches; I found at least five crunches in the nam kao tod at lotus of siam in las vegas last fall; I wrote them on a slip of paper that is lost somewhere in my slip of papers drawer at home, but I know that rice and peanut were two of them.)

Tom kha gai, an all-around good version of the chicken and coconut soup with fat straw mushrooms bobbing around.

Kaeng keow wan, a nice hot but not incendiary green chili that can be prepared with meat or seafood, but that we had tofu-less with vegetables, a wide assortment, eggplant the best of them. This runs all over the place and the sauce is good enough to eat by itself with a spoon.

Pad see ew, the one dish I would order again before wading further into the menu. Sen yai lusciously soft clumped noodles with soy-dark brown skins that are rice white on the inside when you pry them apart join thin slices of meat (we asked for pork because it sounded so good in the kao moo dang, which comes with rice) and Chinese broccoli. Smoke balances out the sweetness.

At $4 a bottle, you can afford to drink a lot of singha. Two or three blocks from the wheaton metro, this place is more accessible than I had expected, and not just the location, tucked behind a Vietnamese grocery store not that inconspicuously. There are 11 tables in the dining room. Our expert server had a fluent command of English, and was friendly.

Not as eccentric as thai x-ing, this seems to be a good source of authentic thai home cooking that is better, and that can be more intriguing, than just everyday.

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Not as eccentric as thai x-ing, this seems to be a good source of authentic thai home cooking that is better, and that can be more intriguing, than just everyday.

I ate here once a few months back and found it quite good with a high starter level for spicyness, but probably a better testimonial came from the instructor of my Thai cooking class at L'Academie de Cuisine. Someone asked our instructor Somchet Chumpapo the obligatory question, "What are your favorite Thai restaurants?" She listed a few that she liked but ended with Nava Thai about which she said, "If you eat here, it's as if you're eating in Thailand."

Pax,

Brian

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I won't pretend to be spectacularly versed in the nuances of Thai cuisine, but I will state without apology that Nava Thai is putting some excellent food on the table. Two brilliant takes on crispy duck (had a craving -- got a sweetish/spicy ap and shared a friend's assertively enbaseled entree), a swell pork in red (Panang?) curry, an uneventful but refreshing squic salad and -- most spectacularly -- the floating market noodles. One observatiuon -- Nava is not a fraid of grease - there was a noticeable film atop the noodles (which are served in a brothj). It's conceivable that this adds a bit of richness to the various dishes, including, as well, the duck. Friendly service, cheap beer. Kicks Thai Crossing's ass, IMO.

The tempatation to go back tonight almost overwhelms.

ETA: Just glanced through the Carman review in the City Paper and noticed that, in addition to the luscious lipids coating the top of the Floating Market noodles, beef blood adds a measure of richness to the broth. mmmmmmmmm

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ETA: Just glanced through the Carman review in the City Paper and noticed that, in addition to the luscious lipids coating the top of the Floating Market noodles, beef blood adds a measure of richness to the broth. mmmmmmmmm

If I remember correctly, Nava Thai, and this dish specifically, was also mentioned favorably in Maxim magazine of all places... they just did an issue with a well-researched food piece that highlighted a few DC-area places.

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Lunch was hot and sour seafood combo salad, and the floating market noodle soup. My second time having the noodle soup and it is one of the best noodle soups I've ever had. The heat is incredible, but not punishing (ymmv). The broth has a great body and intense flavour. The meat and noodles themselves are somewhat of an afterthought and pale in comparison to the rest of the soup. But I could be very happy just having the broth. I'm really looking forward to more meals here so I can try more of the dishes. Definitely worth a try.

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The heat is incredible, but not punishing (ymmv). The broth has a great body and intense flavour. The meat and noodles themselves are somewhat of an afterthought and pale in comparison to the rest of the soup. But I could be very happy just having the broth. I'm really looking forward to more meals here so I can try more of the dishes. Definitely worth a try.

The only two words of Thai I know are (approximating an English spelling) "ped mock" which means, roughly "really fucking hot." Somehow bringing out the Thai always gets a smile and seems to communicate that when we say "hot" we mean "Thai Hot," not "Amurrcan hot." And it does bring out the fire. Nonetheless, in fifteen years of dropping that useful phrase, we'd never gotten food that was "too" hot. Until Nava Thai. Damn, it hurt so good. It was so hot, it took hours to eat because we had to wait for the uncontrollable weeping to stop before swallowing the next bite. It was so hot, it burned coming out. It may, indeed, have been too hot.

We'll have to give it one more try just to be sure. though.

PS: speaking of English spelling, my good friend, you ain't in The Empire any more so kindly drop you're pretnetious Brit "u" when spelling "flavaour," or you're going to lose credibility except when commenting on beer, bubble and squeak and, perhaps, pemmican or whatever it is Canadians eat.

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It was so hot, it took hours to eat because we had to wait for the uncontrollable weeping to stop before swallowing the next bite. It was so hot, it burned coming out. It may, indeed, have been too hot.

Pussy boy.

PS: speaking of English spelling, my good friend, you ain't in The Empire any more so kindly drop you're pretnetious Brit "u" when spelling "flavaour," or you're going to lose credibility except when commenting on beer, bubble and squeak and, perhaps, pemmican or whatever it is Canadians eat.

This is just one of the initial steps in the ongoing plan for Canadian World Domination. You will be one of us. Resistance is futile, eh?

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Lunch was hot and sour seafood combo salad, and the floating market noodle soup. My second time having the noodle soup and it is one of the best noodle soups I've ever had. The heat is incredible, but not punishing (ymmv). The broth has a great body and intense flavour. The meat and noodles themselves are somewhat of an afterthought and pale in comparison to the rest of the soup. But I could be very happy just having the broth. I'm really looking forward to more meals here so I can try more of the dishes. Definitely worth a try.

I had my first Nava Thai experience just over a week ago--a bowl of that incredible soup. Maybe the hottest thing I've ever eaten, but so rich and good that I couldn't stop slurping up the broth. I only slowed down to dry my tears....and take a few bites of the very flavorful meatballs that come in soup.

Since that day I've eaten maybe six or seven meals there. With my wife out of town and the proximity of the restaurant, I've been taking at least half my meals there. So far my favorites are the Floating Market soup and the papaya salad, maybe the best papaya salad I've ever tasted. The Panang Curry (red) is also terrific--it easily rivals that from Ruan Thai, but may be just a tick richer.

Needless to say, I'm quite smitten with this place.....

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I really don't have an incredible amount to add to the existing conversation. But I would definitely add another plug for the crispy pork. It is from the belly and has a crispy, crunchy skin and comes with broccoli. Didn't find it particularly spicy. But this dish is a million times better version than the roast suckling pig you get at Chinese places. Even as leftovers it's still delicious.

The dipping sauce that comes with their spring rolls is a crazy neon red, but rather than the regular sweet and sour this was surprisingly sour and shocked my tastebuds a bit.

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The recent favorable review in the WaPo, along with it's inclusion in the fall dining guide, have resulted in the inevitable throngs of people waiting in the parking lot of Nava Thai for a table. While this, in of itself, isn't really a problem, the good folks at Nava Thai need to adjust to the new found attention (as do we patrons).

We went on Saturday night but the lineup was well out into the parking lot. We anticipated this and were all ready with out take out orders. We were told it'd be ready in 40 mins. No problem - we live 10 mins away and didn't mind making a return trip for some of their fabulous food. To make a long story short, it ended up being 2 hrs before our take out way ready. Lisa spent over an hour waiting for the food. To their credit, the people working there were very apologetic, gave Lisa a free glass to wine while she waited, discounted the bill 15%, and threw in a few extra dishes.

This service glitch isn't going to stop me from going (as a matter of fact, I may return today for lunch) but people should be aware that Nava Thai does not take reservations so get there early or be prepared to wait for a long time. And don't plan on take out on busy evenings unless you order well in advance.

ps...needless to say, the food was freaking amazing!

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I was a bit luckier than you Saturday night. I called a little before 7PM and was told that my order would be ready in 45 minutes, so I showed up on time and the order was ready. Mine might have been a fairly simple order--stir-fried seafood in chili sauce and the country beef salad. And yes, the food WAS amazing. The increased business hasn't affected the quality of food at all. I've been eating the country beef salad regularly, but the pan-fried seafood was a revelation. The curry is a bit like the Panang red curry, only hotter and richer--bowl-licking good!

It was really slammed when I got there--the little vestibule outside the door was packed and there were three or four groups waiting outside. Weekday lunches are still a good bet, as is an early evening dinner during the week. The key for both is to get there a bit on the early side.

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I'm happy to report that this place lives up to the hype. I went here on Saturday a little after 6pm and had to wait about 15 minutes for a table for 2. I'm glad we got there when we did, because it looked like a long line started forming shortly after we were seated.

For the appetizer, we got the Squid Salad. It was pretty good, but unfortunately, at one point I detected a note that reminded me of lemon Pledge. For the entrees, we split the Floating Market Noodle Soup and the Crispy Pork Krapow. My plus one was a little wary about the spice of the soup, so when the waitress asked how spicy we wanted it, we went with medium. It was still pretty damn hot, as I was sweating throughout the meal. Next time I'd like to try it at full strength. I wish this place was walking distance from my house because all I could think about while eating it was how perfect this soup would be on a cold, snowy, winter's day. The pork was amazing. Perfectly cooked, with crispy skin and a nice meat/fat ratio. It was served in a dark brown sauce with crispy holy basil and chilies. You could see a layer of fat floating on top of the sauce (not that I'm complaining). I'd have a hard time not ordering this dish on future visits (of which there will be many). Sorry, arteries!

I'm glad this place is getting so much attention because they definitely deserve it. Here's to their continuing success and hope that the quickly increasing volume doesn't affect the quality.

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I have to give a so-so review for Nava Thai. For those who love the place, more power to you. If you haven't gone yet, make sure you set aside at least an hour and a half if you're dining during peak hours, and expect the food to be saltier than other Thai places.

We were so excited to go after reading Tom Sietsema's glowing recommendation in the Post magazine. We got there about 5:45 PM on a Sunday evening, about 3 weeks after the Post mention, and we got a table right away. To start, we had the Floating Market Noodle Soup and Tom Yum soup. Both were very delicious; the Floating Market soup was the first time I'd had anything with flavors like that. It's reason enough to go to try for that as an appetizer at least once. Next, we had their Pad Thai, Lard Na (Thai chow fun), Crispy Pork Krapow, and Hoi Tod (crispy pan fried battered mussels). It took over 30 minutes for those dishes to come out, and half of them were cold (not even warm -- they apparently don't keep the plates hot). If I went again, I'd ask them to bring out dishes as soon as each one is made.

Portion sizes were laughable, even for a Thai place. What they did is use heaps of bean sprouts as filler on the sides of most entrees. If a normal Pad Thai entree is perhaps 1/2 lb. of noodles, this had about 1/4 to 1/3 lb. The flavor was good however. The Lard Na was very small (again about 1/4 lb. of noodles and a few slices of beef), and the Crispy Pork Krapow was literally about 12 bite-size pieces of pork, however, they were extremely tasty (and fatty). The Hoi Tod was a really strange dish. We were expecting whole mussels or at least something resembling them, but the pieces were more like mussel-flavored fried eggs, as if they just smashed mussel juice into the eggs. Don't order this dish. All of the dishes except the Pad Thai were a tad on the salty side.

We were just underwhelmed and probably had too high of an expectation going in. As much as we wanted to like it, we would probably not go again.

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I was there this week for lunch with my usual som tum and the FMNS. The som tum was its usual model of firey and crispy and excellent as always. Since I go there minutes after 11:20 and they had 2 orders ahead of mine, it did surprise me that it took 25-30 minutes after ordering to get it, and then that my FMNS took an additional 15 minutes to come. The soup was very sweet, sweeter than I remembered, and the dish was served lukewarm. But 45 plus minutes into my lunch I didn't really have time to send it back. Aside from not being hot, it was still amazingly good: those first few crunchy bites of the crispy pork skin contrast with alter bites where the cracklins have absorbed the soup and turn soft, slippery and unctuous.

Nava Thai has never been fast, but this lunch was beyond leisurely slow. I will give them a time to get back onto their former track before going back. That Som Tum is too good to be marred by getting PO'd by slow service.

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Portion sizes were laughable, even for a Thai place. What they did is use heaps of bean sprouts as filler on the sides of most entrees.

Whether or not the cooking pleases your taste is a matter of personal preference, but one of the things I like about Nava Thai is the size of the portions. Most restaurants, IMO, give you way too much food. I wouldn't characterize the portion sizes as "laughable". The Floating Market Noodle Soup is, for me, a satisfying meal and the curries and stir-fries invariable leave me satisfied. I appreciate that Nava doesn't overwhelm me with more food than I can reasonably eat in one sitting.

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I went for lunch today with 6 other friends. It was by far one of our longest lunches, but we did order appetizers. I ordered the crispy duck with fried basil that is mentioned in Sietsma's review. It was outstanding. The duck was incredibly crispy (as advertised :lol: ) in a rich brown sauce with tons of fried basil on top. This dish has one lightning bolt btw (they go up to 3) and I thought it was the perfect amount of heat. I'm a person who can tolerate a decent amount, but not nearly what some people (like my friends) can. The red curry that my friend got (2 lightning bolts) was spicier but still tolerable for me, but I think I might have struggled eating a whole bowl of it without a lot of rice. I think there's only one dish with the full 3 bolts, and none of us ordered it, but I am guessing those who love spicy food could tolerate it - my friends were adding heat from the bowls on the table in the form of peppers and chili powder to heat up their dishes.

Overall, I think the duck was the best dish, but people were also pleased with the oxtail soup and the chicken dish (last on the menu). A friend who got the dish with pork 3 ways (including chinese sausage) wasn't wowed. I tasted his pork belly and it was just a plain but nicely cooked piece of pork belly, nothing more or less.

For apps, the curry puffs were tasty and the spring roll was, well, a spring roll. Although different from others I've had, it didn't wow me.

As far as portion size goes, I passed out tastes of my duck to friends and still struggled to finish mine. Everyone else with me was male, and no one left hungry (some left stuffed). If you have a heartier appetite, going with a meat-based dish like mine might be the better option.

I will definitely be going back, although maybe for dinner when I have more time.

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They are going to be moving to the Rockville/Bethesda area to a bigger place. I didn't get any details but I was put on their e-mail list to be notified once they have moved.

I must have misunderstood the waitress when she said "by the end of the month." Has anyone else heard about this?

I will miss going there for lunch. The new location will be out of my range.

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They are going to be moving to the Rockville/Bethesda area to a bigger place. I didn't get any details but I was put on their e-mail list to be notified once they have moved.

This is the best food news I've heard in a long time! I can't tell you how often I crave the quality of Thai food from Nava Thai or Ruan Thai, but I haven't found anything close in Bethesda or Rockville and I hate cutting over to Wheaton during rush hour traffic. Some dishes from Amina Thai have been fine stand-ins, but I'm excited to not have to settle for much longer.

Pax,

Brian

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Sentimental fool that I am, I couldn't pass up the final evening of Nava Thai at their current location. It was slammed, half folks who had read about it and were stopping by for a first experience, half by old timers. No news yet on a new location, although I was told that several sites in Wheaton were under consideration, as was Silver Spring, and College Park was not. We bid a fond (if temporary) farewell to the Floating Market Soup, the Crispy Duck w/Basil, the Crispy Pork w/ Chinese Broccoli, the Pud Thai, and the Grilled Chicken w/ Sticky Rice. We over ordered but it was a farewell party.

There was a fast flying rumor that the close was because the owners of the market, observing the marked increase in business, want to open their own restaurant in the space. When I asked the gentleman behind the market counter if he liked the food at Nava, he replied, "Meh. Their soup is too sweet."

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