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Absolute Thai, 6th and G Streets in Chinatown

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Sign in the window says "Absolute Thai"

So I guess this place has been "Absolute Thai" for a while now, but I've only been in to check it out in the last two weeks. Preliminarily, it's a nice improvement on Leeloo and a good addition to the Chinatown neighborhood. It's also busy -- which Leeloo hardly ever was -- which hopefully bodes well for its staying power.

Absolute Thai retains the slightly challenging layout of the previous establishment, with a short bar opposite some very low tables right by the entrance, a single table high above the entrance door, and then an elevated level with most of the dining space. The main dining space is better lit and more comfortable -- bustling but not earsplittingly loud when full of customers, and not stiflingly quiet, as Leeloo often was.

The menu is oddly divided, into three parallel sections ("authentic," "healthy," and "specialty." Each section contains soups, appetizers, and entrees. "Authentic" includes traditional Thai restaurant favorites like the tasty Ka Prao -- full of basil goodness. "Healthy" is their euphemism for "vegetarian," and the green curry jae with tofu was satisfying and filling, albeit not spicy enough. Haven't had the chance to try anything from the more creative "specialty" section, but the panang curry with duck and lychee looks intriguing. At lunchtime, a separate specials menu offers a spring roll and entree for less than $9, and both the pork "fresh pepper" with vegetables and deliciously spicy peppers and the Tom yum gai sub noodle soup were winners.

Happy Hour is also promising. Specials are available at the tables, not just at the (very limited) bar, and include $3 Newcastles and other drafts and $2-$3 off several of the appetizers, including the very tasty Larb Ghai and a nice plate of chicken wings, deep-fried and crispy with a little kick, and dipped in a sweet sauce.

The menu is less sweeping than nearby Kanlaya, but what they have, they are doing well. It's a much-needed addition of quality cooking at this price point in the Penn Quarter neighborhood.

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Went to Absolute Thai with daughter for lunch today. She works around the corner.

I was impressed. It's on the same block as Bantam King, and just around the corner from Graffiato and Daikaya Izakaya. Daughter insisted, and I was impressed.

For lunch, the portions are large, the food is presented nicely, the prices are good, and best of all, the food is delicious. I saw the green curry and the drunken noodles on the next table and I was salivating. I ordered the panang curry with chicken, and daughter ordered the shrimp fried rice. Both dishes were really good, and worth ordering again, but I have my eye on that drunken noodles dish next time.

This place is a good find in an area that has a few options. I will likely hit it again with my daughter.

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