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Looking for Thai in DC Proper


4bigreddogs
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A very belated post! I'll echo the comments at the DCDining forum.....that Thai X-ing was a very surreal experience. My friend was skeptical when given the address, so he went early on a Friday. I'm skipping over stories of colorful characters both in and outside the restaurant. My friend came back later, and tried to order....was told it would be two hours. So at Taw's suggestion, he placed an order to be ready by 5pm the next day. When he went to pick-up the food, Taw seemed very pleased at the follow through and said he would make the crispy fish special - the way his grandmother made it. While we usually go for a spicy version, Taw's sweet/sour version had a very unique and delicious flavor. The food was very good and far from Americanized Thai. It was a fun experience (with good food). Given the time commitment, tough to say when we'd be able to pull if off again in the future.

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I was unimpressed with Thai X-ing earlier this year. It's all chef's choice price fixed now. We went on a Tuesday (Pescatarian). It was certainly a ton of food for $30, and it was good, but it wasn't great. Service was pretty awful.

The only other Thai place in DC I've been to recently is Beau Thai in Mt. Pleasant, but I can't recommend it. I've been I think 4 times now (it's 2 blocks from my +1's house), and it's just not very good. What we think is decent one time is dreadful the next, and nothing rises above "this is ok." But it's always packed - maybe just because of the paucity of options in that hood.

I'm sticking with Nava/Ruan in Wheaton, and Sabai Sabai in Germantown.

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The only other Thai place in DC I've been to recently is Beau Thai in Mt. Pleasant, but I can't recommend it. I've been I think 4 times now (it's 2 blocks from my +1's house), and it's just not very good. What we think is decent one time is dreadful the next, and nothing rises above "this is ok." But it's always packed - maybe just because of the paucity of options in that hood.

There's always Little Serow. :)

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Little Serow remains the best value meal in DC, in my opinion.  When you want to jump through the hoops to get a table.

I live around the corner from Beau Thai, and I agree with Daniel that the level of its food really doesn't merit the constant crowds.  There's a level of sweetness that pervades most of the dishes where I would prefer things to be more sour or piquant.  My favorite thing on the menu -- and the only thing I get when I'm there -- is the hot and spicy noodle bowl made with egg noodles, but even that needs a healthy portion of the pickled jalapenos from the spice tray to cut through the sweet notes of the broth.

As I posted a week ago, newly opened Soi 38 on 21st and L has been very good the two times I've gone, but it's a place you have to go a bit out of your way to get to, the price point is slightly higher than a lot of Thai places in the city (but they're doing things that no other Thai restaurant is offering), and as of right now they're only doing dine-in orders.

As for delivery, Thatanic II in Columbia Heights and Regent Thai south of Adams Morgan are both fine, solid, reliable options, but there's nothing particularly special about them.  Still, they're my go-to if I feel like Thai food and eating in.

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There's a level of sweetness that pervades most of the dishes where I would prefer things to be more sour or piquant.  My favorite thing on the menu -- and the only thing I get when I'm there -- is the hot and spicy noodle bowl made with egg noodles, but even that needs a healthy portion of the pickled jalapenos from the spice tray to cut through the sweet notes of the broth.

Yes, exactly! Everything is sweet, and even a request for "Thai hot" means I have to add a ton of peppers to get it near "hot".

Little Serow requires an entire evening's commitment since you can't make reservations. In fact, from MtP, you can drive out to Bangkok Golden during rush hour, have a meal nearly as good as one at Little Serow (at 1/3 the price), drive back, and watch a movie in less time than it takes to go 1.5 miles on the S2 to LS, wait on line, have dinner, and get back.

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Well, I don't have a car, and thus have never been to Bangkok Golden.   :)

And I've discovered that the best way to deal with Little Serow is just to find a weeknight where I can get off work a little early and make it up there by 5 pm, which does happen every once in a while; the three times I've done that, I've gotten first seating with no real problem and have made a minimal time commitment for a delicious meal.  (I also hear that there's a sweet spot on weeknights where if you drop by around 7:30 with one or two people you stand a fair chance of being able to walk in for a seat at the communal table for the second seating -- it worked for me one out of two times I tried it, but I generally don't want to make the effort to take the chance.)

I absolutely love Little Serow.  I think the service could not be more friendly, the beverage pairing recommendations are always spot on, and the food ranges from good to absolutely stellar.  I have never had a mediocre dish there.  That being said, I do find the level of effort usually needed to get a seat to be frustrating and more than a little ridiculous, but I think the answer to that (as with most of the 14th street corridor) is simply to foster a climate where we can get MORE places like Little Serow (independent, small, creative, delicious); one would think that eventually -- eventually! -- the constant demand would flatten out.  Not to always compare things to New York City or Portland -- both of which, I recognize, could not be more different from D.C. in many fundamental ways -- but my girlfriend went up to Manhattan this week and was able to walk into (for example) Wylie Dufresne's new place with a party of four, while in Portland places with the small footprint, creative vision, and idiosyncratic nature of Little Serow -- if not always the level of quality (although surprisingly often it's close!) -- abound by the literal dozens, and while one or another may be "hot" enough where you'll expect a significant wait on weekends without reservations, there's almost always another interesting place around the corner or down the block that can seat you immediately.  Some semblance of that is what I would love to see here (especially for those of us without cars for whom dining options in Maryland and Virginia are something that requires concerted planning), though I confess that I don't know whether or how it is remotely achievable.  In the meantime, I'll keep ducking out of work at 4:45 for awesome Northern Thai food every few months, and I'll keep doing the 14th Street shuffle (up and back, up and back) when I want to brave the primetime dinner hours to find a place with less than an hour wait.

I may have gotten slightly off-topic.   ^_^  Apologies, Rocks.

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