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Samphan Thai Cuisine, Eastern Market

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Samphan, the new Thai restaurant now occupying the old Hunan King spot on Pennsylvania Avenue near the Eastern Market metro station, turned around the space in record time. New paint, new furniture, wall decorations with a Pier One sensibility...considering the grunginess of Hunan they actually did a decent job of making the space a some what cozy ethnic store front. Perhaps they should have spent more time working on their recipes.

All the Thai classics are here...the menu is identical to any number of Thai restaurants around the area. Unfortunately the cooking falls in the overly sweet, mostly bland, safe for the American palette that is also identical to any number of Thai restaurants around the area.


No doubt they will have a thriving take-out business, the menu is inexpensive (most entrees are $10-$14), it's convenient to the metro, and it's quick and easy for getting your Thai, albeit medicore, fix.

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Bob and I went here the week before Thanksgiving and stuck with Thai standards (hell, the whole menu is Thai standards)--pad thai and Penang Chicken. Measured against most of the other Thai restaurants in the District, these were par for the course (tasty but unspectacular), and less sweet than just about anything Old Siam offers. With a dark paint job and some well-selected wall decorations, he space is a vast improvement over Hunan King, but the unprotected front door makes most of the seating vulnerable to drafts, and the lighting is not especially pleasant. I would be inclined to try it for take-out or lunch--certainly over Old Siam--but this isn't breaking any new ground.

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