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Ruan Thai, Family-Owned Thai on Amherst Avenue and University Blvd. in Wheaton


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In all seriousness, are you using yum as a noun or an interjection?
Both, I would imagine. "Yum" is kind of salad. It also means "to mix together", in which context we have tom (= boiled) yum (= stuff mixed together) soups.

And it's yum as in "pass that dish to me with all possible speed, please."

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I ate at Ruan Thai one lunch and had a nice meal. Shortly after that we picked up some take out as its pretty much right on our way home from Dino. The takeout was quite dissapointing and our impression of Ruan Thai was "not much." But tonight, driving into Wheaton to get dinner, we decided to try it again. We figured that if the take out ws an aberation, possibly having a decent Thai outlet nearby was a better outcome than wasting a meal on bad Thai (which is what hppens at Dusit and the other Thai in Wheaton). So we went in.

The service is not very friendly but we got our order in to the accompany of dour grunts. We decided on all salads and apps:

Som Tum- Brilliant. Sweet and sour dressing, decent tomatoes, good green beans, lots of heat of the sneaky variety

Yum Eggplant- Again brilliant. Big smoky hunks of eggplant with a bit of chopped pork and shrinp on top in a larb like dressing. Very good with the eggplant quite smokey and perfectly cooked to the point where all the raw harshness of that veggie was gone ye the subtle flavor shone thru the smoke.

Larb Pork- quite good. Pretty standard.

Chicken Satay- good- nice moist chicken with a nicely smokey edge, good satay sauce and very sweet cucumber and onion accompaniment.

SIngha Beer- nicely cold.

DInner for 2 with 2 beers was $32. We will be back. I think the trick is to order the more complex dishes and not the standards. Not the case at most neighborhood Thai places.

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As a semi-regular Thai outpost for me, Ruan Thai is a good solid Thai choice in the neighborhood.

The menu really is a hit-or-miss. Some dishes are, as one might say, yum. Others are simply meh. To that end, my main complaint is that once you get down to the good stuff, the menu isn't quite as extensive as I'd like. Portions to tend to be a little on the smaller side as well.

note: as small as the parking "lot" out front is, I've never had a problem getting a spot.

side note: another Wheaton favorite to try is Sabang

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I ate at Ruan Thai one lunch and had a nice meal. Shortly after that we picked up some take out as its pretty much right on our way home from Dino. The takeout was quite dissapointing and our impression of Ruan Thai was "not much." But tonight, driving into Wheaton to get dinner, we decided to try it again. We figured that if the take out ws an aberation, possibly having a decent Thai outlet nearby was a better outcome than wasting a meal on bad Thai (which is what hppens at Dusit and the other Thai in Wheaton). So we went in.

The service is not very friendly but we got our order in to the accompany of dour grunts. We decided on all salads and apps:

Som Tum- Brilliant. Sweet and sour dressing, decent tomatoes, good green beans, lots of heat of the sneaky variety

Yum Eggplant- Again brilliant. Big smoky hunks of eggplant with a bit of chopped pork and shrinp on top in a larb like dressing. Very good with the eggplant quite smokey and perfectly cooked to the point where all the raw harshness of that veggie was gone ye the subtle flavor shone thru the smoke.

Larb Pork- quite good. Pretty standard.

Chicken Satay- good- nice moist chicken with a nicely smokey edge, good satay sauce and very sweet cucumber and onion accompaniment.

SIngha Beer- nicely cold.

DInner for 2 with 2 beers was $32. We will be back. I think the trick is to order the more complex dishes and not the standards. Not the case at most neighborhood Thai places.

Dean,

I'm suprised at the service, I have always had attentive and cheerful service there. This is one of my wife's two favorite Thai restaurants. I love the smokiness of the eggplant. The seafood salad is good to. As I said earlier in the thread, the crispy watercress (look for it on the special board, it is always there but it isn't on the regular menu) is wonderful. We have also enjoyed the whole fish, but that can get expensive (I don't have to tell you how much fish costs these days) I think that their strengths are the less "normal" dishs and I love to experiment there. Some misses, but their misses are only pretty standard, not bad. Don't look for ambiance, but do expect good food.

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I have been curious about this place, as it is on the way home from the Metro. Does anyone know if the take out is good (besides that one bad time for Dean)? I am more likely to take home from there then eat in.

Thanks

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Went there with three others on Saturday night and had a meal that was, generally, disappointing (in part, I'm afraid, because of my built up expectations).

Two people had a soup a piece, and I don't remember their responses to the soups. So, can't comment there.

Tried curry puffs, fried watercress and som tum appetizers and wasn't really crazy about any of them. The fried watercress was well fried (I'll give them that) and had a reasonable flavor, but I'm kind of the school that if you fry well, you can batter and deep fry anything and it'll be good. They can fry well. I thought the som tum was incredibly weak. Two pitiful looking tomato slices, presentation overall just blah, the green papaya SOAKING in dressing, not much zing to the dressing.

We had three entrees--a whole flounder fried with '3 flavors sauce.' The staff described this as a sweet and sour sort of sauce. While I know that would turn many off, a well-executed sweet and sour sauce is a thing of beauty. I'll concede, the dish suffered because the +1 wanted this dish to compare it to a favorite Thai restaurant in a different city that made an amazing sweet and sour sauce whole fish dish. This was just eh. The sauce wasn't very complex, definitely too sweet with almost no zing to counterbalance the sweetness. I didn't try the other two entrees ordered, so these are the descriptions provided by my +1. He felt the flavors in the sauce for the basil chicken were good, but that the chicken was dry and overcooked. He felt that the beef in the red curry beef dish was poor quality.

The service was good, attentive, brought regular water refills. We had originally ordered another entree which didn't come out. The wait staff was apologetic when asked about it. We simply cancelled the order. In the end, I don't think it was a big loss because we had more than enough food and I, at least, just wasn't interested in pad thai.

2 soups, 3 appetizers, 3 entrees (including the fried fish), 4 beers and two sodas later (plus tax and tip), came to $105.00 total for a party of 4. Not a bad price, but not commensurate with my enjoyment of the restaurant.

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My co-worker and I dropped in for lunch and, being in a hurry, ordered from the lunch specials. She had #9, coconut milk-based green curry (chicken) with eggplant. She loves this dish, to the degree that the waitress looked at her and said, "Number nine"? I had the red curry equivalent, chicken in a red curry with red and green peppers. I believe it's #8. It's a little sweeter than the green and seemed to be a little more fiery. Both choices were absolutely delicious, so much so that I found myself eating the left over red gravy as if was soup. We both chose the spring roll as the side.

At $6.95, it's one of the best deals in town.

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We went here last night after a long-ago suggestion by Lydia R. It was quite interesting. I ordered off the recs from her Chowhound links http://www.chowhound.com/topics/175427 and http://www.chowhound.com/topics/359517.

We got the watercress yum appetizer, which is huge, fries the hell out of anything remotely healthy, and is damn good. By far my favorite. We also got the smoked eggplant, which tasted like, well, smoke. Very unique, and I can see how that would be appealing to some here, but I didn't finish it and wouldn't get it again. My entree was the larb with fish that was surprising in texture and taste. It seemed to be "cooked" in lime juice a la ceviche and served at room temperature (I actually liked it better cold out of the refrigerator for lunch today but the onions were quite strong today). My wife, please forgive her, got the shrimp pad thai. Didn't suck, but it's pad thai! Overall I wasn't blown away but I was very intrigued but different tastes and textures enough to warrant a return. But, DAMN, that place is a hole! I think I also got a contact high from the pot smoke wafting through the air from the apartment building across the street.

Pax,

Brian

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We went the other night and had the Pad Thai and loved it. The flavors were particularly vibrant.... strong elements of sweet, vinegar, peanut etc. The smoked eggplant dish was one of our favorites. The grilled beef Nam Tok was fairly dry and blah. Again ,the Singha was cold and fresh. Dinner was $32 and we were happy.

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Was at Ruan last Thursday. Ordered the Yum watercress which is always a pleaser. Like many other salad apps, it is steeped in cilantro, red onion and lime juice. All good things, plus a nice crunch from the deep frying of the watercress. I go back and forth between this and the tuna salad on each visit. The smoked eggplant was a bit too smoky for me this time, beyond smoky actually and venturing into ashy. My fried softshells were a bit soggy from the sauce and slightly underspiced (flavorful, but not hot enough), still good. My wife got the crispy chicken which was fine for her. The crispy duck is far superior IMO as I prefer darker meat and the glorious fat flavor that comes with it. Far from the best meal I have had at Ruan, but still better than most of what Wheaton has to offer.

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First visit to Ruan Thai (finally!) and we were very pleased. Not too busy this evening, so service was very friendly and efficient. Mr. S had the Kra Pow, and said it was excellent. And spicier than he's had at other restaurants. I had the soft shell special, which was very tasty. Well, it is fried, so how could it not be? :lol: I actually have had bad fried soft shells before, though. This was not a "light" batter by any means, yet the flavor of the crab still came through.

There's a thread somewhere that mentions another Thai restaurant in Wheaton, I think behind Hung Phat? Not sure where the thread, or the restaurant, is, but that one is on the list to try next. If anyone remembers the name or finds the other thread, please post!

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If anyone remembers the name or finds the other thread, please post!

Nava Thai

If you return to Ruan Thai they have a grilled eggplant & prok salad that is wonderfully smokey & fuol of vbibrant lime juice sprightlyness. The Beef and pork salads are also wonderful. While I like Nava a lot, theseare both quite good restaurants that each do a range of excellent dishes that really do not overlap.

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I can't believe it's been over 8 months since there's been a post to this thread! Though I know I've seen posts in other threads mentioning visits to Ruan Thai.

Dropped my daughter somewhere in the wilds of PG County and the house of some kid name "Savo" and swung by Ruan Thai on the way back to the city. Dragged the new baby TV that we don't know how to work yet into the bedroom, shoved a Season 1 "the Wire" episode in and got my Thai on while drinking an Argentine Cabernet in my boxers (sorry about that image). I was asleep by 11:30. Best damn New Year's Eve since I made out with the folksinger/bartender while her powerlifter date was on drugs in another room. Never has not being beaten to a pulp felt so good.

Or was it the best since P-Funk and the funk of truffles at 4AM?

Waitman...I must be directionally challenged. How is Ruan Thai on the way back to the city from PG County? :P

Great choice eating here tonight. It was a full house--everyone else seemed to have the same idea to go out for an early Thai dinner, but the service and food did not suffer for it. While I'm sure Nava Thai would have been a good choice as well, the staff at Ruan Thai are so accommodating and make it so easy to eat here, allergies and all. We shared the Yum Watercress app, and even without garlic it was delicious. Crunchy, sweet, tangy...so many tastes. For entrees, I had the sauteed squid with basil and hot peppers, and Mr. S had the Chicken Pad Kra Pow. Both were very tasty and we left too full to sample a dessert, even though the Mango sticky rice was calling to me.

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Ruan Thai was our go to Thai before Nava Thai. Today I returned after a long absence to a fine meal. Starters were som tum which was fresh and crunchy with loads of tiny dried shrimp. Could have used a touch more zing in both heat and lime juice but solid. The larb chicken was outstanding. Starkly plain, it had a heat that built up as you progressed. Simplicity itself, no visual appeal, just great eats. The entree was roast duck green curry with big meaty strips of good duck from which the fatty skin had separated leaving soft, rich stips of duck fat. What could be better? The curry was simple and good. Served in a clay pot with a ladle so you could spoon the right balance of bamboo shoots and the other veggies, the sauce, meat & fat onto your rice. Very nice!

In my absence they seem to have painted (the bathrooms require sunglasses the colors are so bright!) and cleaned up the joint a bit. The beer was definitely colder than previously, both good things. A meal that could have fed two for $30.

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Ruan Thai was our go to Thai before Nava Thai. Today I returned after a long absence to a fine meal. Starters were som tum which was fresh and crunchy with loads of tiny dried shrimp. Could have used a touch more zing in both heat and lime juice but solid. The larb chicken was outstanding. Starkly plain, it had a heat that built up as you progressed. Simplicity itself, no visual appeal, just great eats. The entree was roast duck green curry with big meaty strips of good duck from which the fatty skin had separated leaving soft, rich stips of duck fat. What could be better? The curry was simple and good. Served in a clay pot with a ladle so you could spoon the right balance of bamboo shoots and the other veggies, the sauce, meat & fat onto your rice. Very nice!

In my absence they seem to have painted (the bathrooms require sunglasses the colors are so bright!) and cleaned up the joint a bit. The beer was definitely colder than previously, both good things. A meal that could have fed two for $30.

We've been frequenting Ruan Thai a lot lately, and loving it. (My one experience at Nava paled in comparison so with such a good option nearby I've had no reason to go back.) It's bad enough getting a table if you get there past 6:30, so maybe I better keep my trap shut. :D

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I stopped by after a quick visit to Target to grab some takeout. For my entree I ordered the pad kha prao, which is your choice of meat stir-fried with hot chili, green pepper and fresh basil leaves. I wish I hadn't. Despite being Asian and giving the double thumbs-up on the spicy, it was barely spicy. Surprisingly the green papaya salad I ordered was spicier. The brown gravy for the beef version of pad kha prao I ordered reminded me of Chinese food. Not terrible Chinese food, but something I could have made myself at home.

Next time I will have to try and go for something that the others have recommended above. But I'd rather make a stop at Nava Thai before that.

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We have not been to Ruan Thai very much of late so tonight Kay and I remedied that. While I thinnk we should not have ordered 2 fried dishes, the meal was very satisfying in a way that our recent Wheaton/SS Thai forays have not been. The other fault is that we ordered 4 spicy dishes and were warned that one was very spicy and none of them really were anything more than medium or not very hot. We had:

Yum Watercress - fried watercress & seafood with a decidedly not spicy dip. Very rich and quite good. Needed more heat and would have been great at a dinner for 4.

#10 Catfish- what a dish. Some sort of ground or chopped catfish in a batter fried into a lacy catfishy cake with no visible catfish bits. I used the Som Tum as a topping to balance again the richness of the fried food. We finished every bit, ate the lettuce garnish and were lickig the plate when we decided that they might be upset if we broke the pates and ate them.

Som Tum - the way I like it with a good lime juice bite and plenty of small dried shrimp. While the tomato was just ordinary, ti is better then the wilted tomatoes I have had recently at the Thai joint a couple of blocks away. Again, needed heat.

Beef salad. Same lousy tomatoes (hey, go to the Silver Spring Farmer's Market once a week and buy a couple of flats of tomatoes, its summer huh?) but the flavors were perfectly balanced and nicely lime flavored. We ignored this dish eating the catfish and the other two and when we got to it the beef was a little cold and chewy. I prefer the pork salad which keeps tender longer and I always forget this fact.

2 beers, $30 with a 20% tip, very good service. Back at the top of our Thai list for the area.

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After a hiatus of several years, we had dinner at Ruan Thai last night. Aside from some tough squid, we found the food to be right on the mark - fresh and tasty and basically as it should be. Good place to have within easy dining distance!

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I and friends have loved Ruan Thai for years and would like to offer a few suggestions. First skip the normal appetizers you may get at most other Thai spots, the Satay, Tod Mun, Spring Roll and Larb and all OK but let me point you to the Yum Ped Yang a great duck & chili w/ lime salad.

Next, Yum Pla Korb is crispy fried fish with lemon grass that is like fish jerky.

Yum Sam Krob is my top choice, a fried crispy dried shrimp and squid salad with cashews and lime.

Many folks are talking about the Yum Watercress, we ask for it "Paula" style for someone who has a gluten allergy, thus they make it with corn starch and it seems lighter. Last, I know it is a normal choice but I think the Som Tum papaya salad is outstanding.

The soups and salad section of the menu I confess I jump over out of habit and leap right into the main course, one of my favs is #46 Mhoo Korb Kha Nha, a stir-fried crispy pork with Chinese Broccoli and this wonderful sauce that rocks on some rice. One other pork dish that is great is #47 the Mhoo Korb Pad Prik Khing a very crispy pork with string beans and chili.

I love the Ped Pad Kha Prao and stir fried boneless duck with basil and chili. I know all this sound hot but they will make it all hot or mild on request. A nice easy going light veggie dish is Tu-Fu Pad Khing, stir fried bean curd with ginger and black mushroom and black bean sauce; very warm and comfy on an icy night.

My wife and the girls I go with just go nuts over a whole fish, more times than not it is flounder crispy fried with Pla Choo Chee, a red curry and coconut milk.

And by the way, this stuff does not carry out as well as Chinese food so that is just the way it is. Hope you enjoy this place as much as I.

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The restaurant smelled quite pungent (fish sauce?). My wife tells me that Chinese restaurants also smell but I just don't notice. Is that true or is the ventilation really bad at Ruan Thai? Eventually I got used to the smell but it sure wasn't pleasant. Fortunately the food was good. We had the Yum Watercress - fried shrimp with fried watercress - as a starter. I've never had this dish before but I immediately wish the Thai restaurants around Tysons would serve something like this rather than the generic appetizers. We then had some duck with chili and basil, catfish with chili and basil, and the crispy pork with Chinese broccoli. Everything tasted just a tad salty but it's fine if you ingest some rice with the entrees (I try not to eat rice as it takes up valuable stomach-estate). The duck had a lot of fat, and the dish was quite oily. It's been awhile since I've been to Nava Thai, IIRC these two are comparable in quality but Nava Thai has a much nicer dining room.

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Ruan Thai will shortly be doubling their dining room space. The caterer next door has moved and Ruan Thai is expanding into 1/2 of the caterer's old space. They expect to have the new space up and running in "about 2 months." The new space comes with at least two more parking spaces (hooray). The new parking spaces are available now. I was there last Friday and the food is as good as ever.

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On 11/10/2010 at 11:24 AM, eroica38 said:

Ruan Thai will shortly be doubling their dining room space. The caterer next door has moved and Ruan Thai is expanding into 1/2 of the caterer's old space. They expect to have the new space up and running in "about 2 months." The new space comes with at least two more parking spaces (hooray). The new parking spaces are available now. I was there last Friday and the food is as good as ever.

We had dinner last Friday and I'm happy to say the new space is now open and things look good. The old rugs are gone & replaced by wood flooring so the sound is a bit loud. I hope they will be adding some stuff to the walls to eat up the noise but the stand around & wait for a table should be less now.

Love the food, everything was great!

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Anyone go recently? Any ordering tips?

We've been going for 15+ years and were last there a few months ago.  The food is consistently good.  We always get the Yum pla korb and Yum watercress appetizers.  I've also enjoyed the dishes with "pad prik khing" in their names (red curry paste and green beans).  Ruan Thai is a straightforward, traditional Thai restaurant.  I hope you like it.  I grew up near Wheaton and have seen (and enjoyed) its growth as an ethnic dining destination.

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Visiting a friend this weekend up on the top of the Beltway and we went for a stroll through the Wheaton Botanical Garden and followed that up with dinner at Ruan Thai.  Wish I had thought to check out DR for what to order, as our selections ranged from OMG! to meh.  The OMG! was the crispy duck with a spicy sweet & sour tamarind (?) glaze. Perfectly crispy, with a smoky undertone from the wok char, a good lingering heat that wasn't overbearing, and that wonderful final note sourness.  I think we would have been happy ordering 3-4 plates of this and nothing else.  The only knock on the duck dish would be I wish the kitchen had been more precise in chopping it evenly.  Some of the pieces were a bit difficult to wrestle with because of size and shape.  Didn't stop me, though!    Also got the chicken larb which was a good, straightforward preparation, and ordered an eggplant appetizer with chicken that turned out to be basically more larb but with eggplant in it.  It was more interesting than the straight chicken larb, so at least we learned something with the side-by-side comparison.  Very good was the panang curry: strong, balanced rich sauce and tender meat.  Decidedly meh was a rice noodle/watercress/pork dish in a broth.  It just didn't come together, the pork was small slices and dried out and flavorless (honestly couldn't tell if it was chicken or pork), the watercress was the best part of the plate but tough and cut too long (hard to chew through and I stopped eating it because it seemed like it could be a choking hazard), and the broth was not spicy and had no depth of flavor.    The service was a bit slow and not terribly attentive when we first arrived but improved as the meal went on, I think because more servers arrived for the dinner shift (we arrived fairly early).  So, definitely worth going back to for more of that wonderful duck and to explore the dishes flagged as good earlier in this topic.

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