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Thai Square, Thai on Columbia Pike and Glebe Road in South Arlington


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I searched for a thread on Thai Square, but I couldn't find one, so I apologize if I'm search-function impaired, but I thought this place deserved its own space.

I'm glad that Tom S. isn't hyping it anymore, because it's now safe to go back! While they are still busy, it's possible to get seated at some point in the evening, and they are now willing and able to fill takeout orders in a reasonable length of time.

When I eat here, I'm reminded of how much I enjoy eating simple, homey, Thai food. None of this bland, oversauced, and terribly underspiced poor excuses that they've been serving up at some of the many, many random Thai joints that have popped up (I do appreciate the attempts to use clever names, though I've wondered why no one has yet tried Thai Me Up!) as Thai food has increased significantly in popularity with the masses.

Last night we had three dishes: pad see ew with beef, eggplant with chicken and basil, and catfish with chilies and eggplant. The noodles were dry-fried, with just enough sauce and grease to caramelize the noodle edges. Yum! I like that they use Chinese broccoli, as is right and proper, instead of regular broccoli.

We had told the server, "spicy is good," in response to her concerned query about our choices. However, the (chunks of asian) eggplant and basil chicken dish, while bursting with basil goodness, was not exactly searing to the palate. (But how do I justify deep-frying my vegetables, if I don't get a restaurant to do it??!!) The dish was delicious, but mild. Maybe next time I'll tell them that "spicy is necessary."

The catfish was fried (thin steak slices) and served with thin slices of those cute, green, baby (Thai?) eggplants, a lot of basil, and the same basic brown sauce, with the crucial addition of a generous amount of chilies. While the flavor was excellent (and definitely needed rice to ensure consumer comfort), I have to say that my enjoyment of the dish was reduced somewhat because of the effort involved in finding and removing the spine and other bones. Each bite required rather delicate chewing to avoid stabby little points of fishy revenge. I understand, though, that this might not be a problem for others.

Great service - friendly but unobtrusive. My water glass barely had time to dip below full (key for me when chilies are involved) before it was refilled.

So that's me. I love this place! Anyone else want to cop to eating Thai comfort food? I'm curious if others have suggestions on dishes to try...

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Mmmm. Thai Square is still such a gem.

Just yesterday, I reminisced with a known food dignitary about:

Roasted Duck in Red Curry Sauce ($10.95)

Tender slices of roasted duck in spicy red curry with diced pineapple and basil leaves

I see Thai Square carry out and Alsatian riesling in my future.

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Mmmm. Thai Square is still such a gem.

Just yesterday, I reminisced with a known food dignitary about:

Roasted Duck in Red Curry Sauce ($10.95)

Tender slices of roasted duck in spicy red curry with diced pineapple and basil leaves

I see Thai Square carry out and Alsatian riesling in my future.

<Mystified> What exactly is a food dignitary?

And Thai food + white (German for me) wines = intercontinental bliss :)

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As a semi-recent (within the last 5 years) convert to the joys of Thai food, I felt compelled to chime in. We live in Clarendon area and frequently eat thai (as in 3 nights last week!). I am a diehard Sawatdee fan as it is always consistent and satisfying (and delivers), although the recent addition of the new Sala Thai in the 'hood has drawn me to cross the street many times. Suffice it to say, I think we have been to every thai place in NOVA.

I have to say, however, that Thai Square is definitely worth the trip across town. The food is simply the best Thai I have had in the area. Never had a bad or even mediocre dish there. The eggplant is fantastic as is the beef pad kraprao. Even the old standby of pad thai is top notch. The kanom jeeb (steamed dumplings) melt in your mouth!

If someone recommends a better thai place, please let me know, as I would be more than happy to have my own little thai challenge!

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If someone recommends a better thai place, please let me know, as I would be more than happy to have my own little thai challenge!
While I wouldn't say better, I really like Rabieng in Bailey's Xroads as well. They have some dishes (chili cod!) that can't be found in any other Thai restaurants around here, and they also have a "street food" menu of mostly fried, fun things on the weekend afternoons.
It is too rare that I get the pleasure of the joys of their sun dried beef. They leave just enough fat on each piece to make this a rather sinful delight. As for the entrees, I have yet to have one that fails to delight my palette.
As for the sun-dried beef, ah, I know it well. For awhile I used it as a substitute while I (sotto voce) wasn't eating bacon.

Also, the crispy basil and honey duck is awesome and effort-free, as they've removed all the pesky bones for you.

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Where is this joint, and do they have a liquor license? If so, any decent wines?

They do have a liquor license, although I have no idea about the wine situation (I will say that the restaurant strikes me as having more of a beer sensibility). I love the crispy squid with chili and basil, and also the tofu and eggplant with chili and basil (sense a theme?). The noodle dishes are fine, but the non-noodle things I've tried have been exceptional.

It's at 3217 Columbia Pike, just up from the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse.

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Thai Square = good. It was hard to drive by Bangkok 54 on the way and not stop, since we had a great dinner there not too long ago, but we really wanted to try Thai Square. I had the Tom Yum Kai to start, which strangely enough reminded my husband of buffalo wings! Main dishes were the Green Shrimp Curry and the Chicken Pad Kraprao. The amount of spiciness was great and the food was as good as we expected. I noticed a lot of people ordering the crispy whole flounder - that will be what I get when we go back! Does a whole fish work well as a delivery item?

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Wow. If I had a car, I'd be here on a regular basis.

The sun-dried beef and crispy basil and honey duck would become my go-to dishes.

The pad see-ew is the definition of comfort food on a cold day.

I'm having one of those rare moments when I almost (almost!) wish I lived in the 'burbs...

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Nine of us gathered for a $20 Tuesday dinner last night. We hit it at just the right time of the evening - before it completely filled up, and service was very good (which for me, meant that the ice water refills kept up with the heat in the dishes.)

We decided as a group on five starter dishes, and then each picked a dish to share. We sampled:
Starters:

  • Somtum (julienned green papaya salad)
  • Yum Pla Dook Foo (lacy crisp catfish on green salad)
  • Salad Khaek (green salad with fried tofu triangles)
  • Sun-dried beef (deep fried strips with chili dipping sauce)
  • Sun-dried pork (ditto - from the Specials menu)

Mains:

  • Shrimp curry (green)
  • Chicken curry (yellow)
  • Roasted duck curry (red)
  • Crispy honey roasted duck with basil
  • Pork with garlic sauce
  • Crispy squid with basil
  • Chicken Pad Kee Mao (stir fry with fresh chilis and basil, wide noodles)
  • Beef Pad See-Ew (stir fry with wide noodles, Chinese broccoli and sweet soy sauce)
  • Salted Fish Fried Rice

Standouts for me were the crispy squid with basil, crispy duck, chicken pad kee mao and sun dried beef. Total cost before drinks and tip was about $16.60 per person. It was a great way to try a lot of different dishes so I'll know what I might want to order again. And it was a fun group too!

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I finally got a chance to try Thai Square tonight. I will certainly confess that I don't possess a lot of specific knowledge in the Thai food arena, but man, this food was just plain awesome!

We had the sliced flank steak with spicy sauce, the spring rolls, chicken with cashews, the crispy honey roasted duck with basil and a tofu dish (no clue specifically what it was--I have no interest in tofu). The duck was unbelievably crispy and just addictive as hell! Everything else was extremely flavorful as well, but I just can't get my mind off that duck!

Service was charming and and fast. I'm glad my wife went out of town for a night (unless she's reading this- then I miss her dearly) so I could go get spicy food with some friends. Thai Square is entering my rotation immediately.

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I tried Tahia Square on my way to Restaurant Depot from home in silver Spring yesterday. It was just on the way. FOr those of you who actually know your way around Virginia, you may ask how it this "right on the way?" Well, I was on the 495 heading down to the Van Dron exit when they 48 signs and ramps of the mixing bowl enticed me onto the 395 north. No problem, I smugly thought! I will just get off at the first exit and double back. I saw a sign pointing me to 395 south and tried to follow its direction and lo and behold, a miracle occcurred.... I was on the 395 south again. Just go to Landmark/Duke Street (or is it King... exit 3a or b or something like that...) and I can double back. A little out of the way but not bad still. I see a sign for Landmark and it is posted right after the cutoff so I swerve a little and get off. Well not actually. I get onto the northbound express lanes. So now I go to the exit for the Memorial Bridge. I actually make it back to the 395 south and thats when I see the sign for Coulmbia Pike and the thought that Thai Square is just a few blocks away. So it IS on the way to Restaurant Depot from Silver Spring even if Mapquest doesn't say so!!

In any case, I ordered Nam Sod and Som Tum. All I can say is that they were pretty damned good. The Nam Sod was a little lighter on the pork rind than I could have wished for but the pork itself has a smokey element and the whole was made perfect by the slivers of ginger that spiked the dish. WOW! The Som Tum was a huge pile of shredded green papaya with not so ripe tomatoes but the small dried shrimp were perfect. They were just dried enough and just rehydrated enough to have a perfect balance of soft and chewy and shrimp flavor with the mustiness and spice you only get with great aged red wines or dried shrimp. The rewsings on the two dishes looked identical but were far from it. The Som Tum has a very sweet edge and a nice clean spice. The Nam Sod had a sneaky hot element that bnult up nicely, not to a fire but to a well developed and lingering tingle. The only flaw in the meal was that the rice was ust OK.

I eat regularly at Ruan Thai and used to eat at Bangkok 54 (last meal there was almost 2 years ago so I do not know if it is still good). Thai Square fits in the triumverate very nicely. Ruan Thai is more layered and nuanced, with some more unusual dishes on the menu. Bangkok 54 at the time we used to eat there (and I know it gets mixed feedback today) had the glossy high end Thai thing going well. Thai Square is just simple, straghtforward stff. Home cooking if your mom was a great Thai cook. I would rate Thai Square up with any of my favorites from the old days in LA with its double Thai towns in Hollywood and the SFV. There are several street food dishes I am really looking forward to trying again: sun dried beef salad being one. Thanks to all on the board who have raved about this spot, it was a much needed revelation and wonderful meal.

As a follow up, I then proceeded to make it to Restaurant Depot without getting lost and then, miracle of miracles, I got back to Dino without so much as a missed turn! But fearing the revenge of the gods on my hubristic joy at this statement, there is no smugness or pride intended in the last statement, just a recounting of the fact. "Just the facts ma'am" as fellow Angelean Joe Friday would say.... "Just the facts!" :blink:

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Got takeout from Thai Square yesterday and have to say that I was quite impressed. I think this place is right up there with 1Gen, which is one of my go-to places.

Sun-dried beef was great, perfect appetizer-type food that I haven't seen other places. Must order dish if you like beef.

Shrimp tom yum was the only disappointment of the meal, it was a little too oily for my taste, leaving a film in my mouth and taking away from some of the nice flavors in the soup.

Chicken pad see ew was very good, not oily at all and in competition with the version at 1Gen, which I look at as the Gold Standard for my favorite Thai dish. Love the little bits of egg.

And finally, the star of the show, the crispy honey duck with basil. Enough has been said about it above, it has the perfect sweet/spicy balance and the duck is just so tasty. Another must order dish if you come here.

I think I saw Dean when I was in there eating a noodle dish and some sort of shredded meat which looked great (what was that, Dean?). I'm surprised I have not been here yet and I can't wait to get back, this is the perfect place to go to before a show at the C&D House.

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Got takeout from Thai Square yesterday and have to say that I was quite impressed. I think this place is right up there with 1Gen, which is one of my go-to places.

Sun-dried beef was great, perfect appetizer-type food that I haven't seen other places. Must order dish if you like beef.

Shrimp tom yum was the only disappointment of the meal, it was a little too oily for my taste, leaving a film in my mouth and taking away from some of the nice flavors in the soup.

Chicken pad see ew was very good, not oily at all and in competition with the version at 1Gen, which I look at as the Gold Standard for my favorite Thai dish. Love the little bits of egg.

And finally, the star of the show, the crispy honey duck with basil. Enough has been said about it above, it has the perfect sweet/spicy balance and the duck is just so tasty. Another must order dish if you come here.

I think I saw Dean when I was in there eating a noodle dish and some sort of shredded meat which looked great (what was that, Dean?). I'm surprised I have not been here yet and I can't wait to get back, this is the perfect place to go to before a show at the C&D House.

If that was me it was Nam Sod, the chopped pork dish and the Som Tum could have looked like noodles. Iw as the guyint he Hawaiian shirt, sitting at the Deuce by the door.

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I was on the 495 heading down to the Van Dron exit when they 48 signs and ramps of the mixing bowl enticed me onto the 395 north. [...] I saw a sign pointing me to 395 south and tried to follow its direction and lo and behold, a miracle occcurred.... I was on the 395 south again.
We Washingtonians do not say "the 395" or "the 495". Californians use such locutions. Please learn the local dialect. :blink:
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Yesterday, took Kay to Thai Square for lunch before seeing the final performance of Merrily We Roll Along at the Signature. For those of you who are wondering if I wound up in West Virginia, Florida or Western Pennsylvania for braving the roads of NOVA once more, let me dispel you of the notion. I drove directly from Dino to Thai Square without a hitch and then to the Signature as if I knew what I was doing. Of course that same afternoon we did see aviating porcines but whatever...

Bean Curd Skin stuffed with meat and deep fried were good, Kay loved them. I should have asked for the vinegars with the various hot peppers to spike them a little, very good if pretty much standard.

Som Tum again stellar. The combination of dried shrimp both pounded and tiny whole ones made for a nice textural and flavor boost over the ordinary Som Tum.

Squid Salad was extraordinary. The squid was tender as cold be and perfectly cooked and sweet. The sauce was spicy but just enough to emphasize the sweetness of the squid and not overpower it. WHat a dish!

Pad Thai was good. Very good. But not as good as the version we had 2 weeks ago at Ruan Thai. If it were split among 6 or 8 of us it would have been fine, but it was a little one dimensional.

But let not the Pad Thai diminish the fact that this is seriously good Thai. Too bad I have to work tomorrow and cannot come to the $20 Tuesday there!

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We Washingtonians do not say "the 395" or "the 495". Californians use such locutions. Please learn the local dialect. :blink:

Real Californians do not use such locutions, either. Perhaps folks from the vast wastelands of Southern California say such silly things, but certainly not their wizened brethren up north.

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Yesterday, took Kay to Thai Square for lunch before seeing the final performance of Merrily We Roll Along at the Signature.

I had the same Sunday, almost!! We went to Thai Square for an early dinner before the show. We got everything fried with chilies and basil (duck, squid, noodles) and a mango with sticky rice. Burp and YUM! The next day, after a night in the fridge, the duck was still crunchy (and also an eminently appropriate breakfast food). How do they do that? Do I even want to know?

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Twenty Dollar Tuesday Results from 10/16

Seven of us sat down to a real feast tonight at Thai Square. Equipped with notes, iphone links and memories we ordered away. Total costs (including drinks, beers, tax, gratuity) was $26 PP. Service was great, no problem with reservations, very attentive staff. Place was full all night. Really nice meal, everyone vowed to return. There was no leftovers, another sign of a good meal.

Appetizers

#6 Pla Plamuk (Spicy Squid Salad), good spice and flavor
#14 Spicy Roasted Duck Salad, nice salad, not overly spicy, duck flavor came through
# 17 Chicken Satay: Very good, not overly sweet curry peanut sauce, classically prepared. Extra Kudos to Thai Square for having one Satay for each person.

Special Sun-Dried Pork; Like # 20 Sun Dried Beef, this was a standout. Pieces of spiced pork deep fried and accompanied by a hot sauce. Wish there was more of this.


Entrées
#37 Roasted Duck in Red Curry Sauce: Very nice, sauce wonderful with rice. Classically prepared.
#44 Crispy Honey Roasted Duck with Basil: Deep fried Duck, total bliss, I had to fight Porcupine for the last piece. Wish there was more of this
#52 Sautéed Eggplant and Chicken with Basil: Nice pairing of chicken and eggplant
#59 Pig Knuckle Stew, wonderful, savory, not everyone's favorite, but those who liked it praised it highly
#67 Pad Ped Pla Dook: We have a bone to pick with Don for suggesting this one, actually many bones. The catfish was actually pretty good, but the amount of small bones to pick out really took away from the dish.
#79 Pad Thai: Well done rendition of the classic.

Special Shrimp with Bean threads: Real winner, bean noodles with shrimp.

In general, the entrées here are well proportioned, not huge. Each was unique and spiced right.

Dessert (they were out of a few things)
Sticky Rice with mango
Sticky Rice with Black Beans in Coconut Cream

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Thai Square is doing bang-up business, probably because of the Post review.
I have to agree with lackadaisi here - I've only eaten 'in' one other time, and had a 30-minute or so wait. I have picked up carry-out several times on various weeknights and have noticed most, if not all, of the tables full, often with people waiting. The 3 stars in the dining guide were definitely not given for ambiance*, but are well-deserved because the food is so darn good!

Thanks to everyone who indulged my desire to try the Pig Knuckle Stew :blink: - it was very good (I just didn't care for the fatty edges, but they were easy enough to avoid).

My go-to dishes, which we didn't order last night, are the green curry with chicken and the green papaya salad (the one Deangold has been so enamored of) - both are VERY good with lots of heat and layers of spice and flavors.

*The place is cozy, clean, and bustling, so I guess that's ambiance, just not the kind that might normally be equated with 3 stars.

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Special Shrimp with Bean threads: Real winner, bean noodles with shrimp.

I usually get carryout at Thai Square, but I've dined there at least a dozen times over the years, and they've never NOT had this as a special!

I'm really glad the courses showed well.

Sorry about the bones in the catfish. I actually like the gentle yellow color of the sauce more than the fish itself - it makes for a nice visual alongside the dark green basil in the crispy duck, and the redness of the pig knuckle.

Incidentally, I got the "Sweet and Sour Seafood" there on Sunday night - not at all bad, but other things on the menu are more interesting.

Cheers!

Rocks.

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I'm afraid I have to give DR.com's first less-than-glowing review of Thai Square. Thankfully, though, it has little to do with the food.

I had dined there once before and found it the best Thai food in the area. That visit was during the middle of a Saturday afternoon, so there were no crowds to deal with. When planning my return, I pretty much ignored the service complaints in the feedback section on the Washington Post's site, because all the reports here are so positive.

This time I had reservations for six people on Saturday night. With a waiting line out the door, we were actually seated with little hassle. Everyone in my party was very patient due to how busy it was. So when we had to ask for menus after being ignored for ten minutes, we just shrugged it off.

After another long wait, we finally placed our orders just as another large party was seated next to us. And that led to the real kicker of the evening: This party arrived after we did and was out the door before all our entrees had even arrived. I could share my theory on why this happened, but it would be inappropriate without any further evidence.

Another problem was that our food came out in three waves. The length of time between each was such that some people had finished their dishes before the next round was delivered - the last of which was a full 80 minutes after we were seated. Fortunately, this food is easy to share, so everyone was at least being partially fed. (It should be noted that everything was still top quality.)

And I have to mention a minor rice issue. For being the most inexpensive and abundant thing they offer, they were very stingy with it. We had to ask for several refills of the tiny bowl they brought out for the six of us. On top of that, it was extremely dry - probably the worst rice I've ever had in a restaurant.

To make a long story short, I still crave the food at Thai Square, but I'll only return during off-peak hours or for take out.

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My wife and i finally made it to Thai Square Friday night. We expected slow service and it was a bit slow, but polite so this did not bother us much.

We ordered the Flank Steak appetizer in a spicy sauce. This was very good and spicy as noted.

The Fried Pork with Chines Broccoli was ok. I thought the Pork tasted like Chicharrones(sp) --overly fried pieces of fat. There was little pork flavor to me. The sauce was excellent.

The much praised Fried duck with basil and chili was a disappointment for both of us. We asked for extra spicy. The pork with broccoli which was not listed as a spicy dish was more spicy than the duck. This was incredibly oily too. I never complain about fried foods, but there's always a first... this appeared to be an overly generous portion of duck, but after biting into my first piece, I sensed I was eating battered oily dough--sans duck. I found myself taking half bites to check if there was any duck in the piece I was eating. That was very disappointing.

The Thai Iced Tea was excellent. Had two order another one after my wife kept stealing sips.

We will give it another try, but stay away from the fried foods the next time and maybe ask for "Thai Spicy" so they know we mean business. It seems like you have to become a regular at traditional Sichuan restaurants for them to believe you really can handle the heat. I guess it's the same with Thai places.

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The much praised Fried duck with basil and chili was a disappointment for both of us. We asked for extra spicy. The pork with broccoli which was not listed as a spicy dish was more spicy than the duck. This was incredibly oily too. I never complain about fried foods, but there's always a first... this appeared to be an overly generous portion of duck, but after biting into my first piece, I sensed I was eating battered oily dough--sans duck. I found myself taking half bites to check if there was any duck in the piece I was eating. That was very disappointing.

Was there actually batter on the duck or was that just a description of the (what is supposed to be crispy) skin? That is really too bad as the many times that I have had it there it has been crispy skin and very good meat. Hopefully it was just an off night.

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We will give it another try, but stay away from the fried foods the next time and maybe ask for "Thai Spicy" so they know we mean business. It seems like you have to become a regular at traditional Sichuan restaurants for them to believe you really can handle the heat. I guess it's the same with Thai places.

In my experience (and from what I've seen on the board, many others'), Thai Square is one of the places in the area that does not dumb down the spiciness. One night I had larb gai that turned me into a dragon. So I suspect you were the unlucky recipient of an off night.

Mmmm, reading this thread made me realize I haven't been there in a while...

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Just a question. I've never been to Thai Square, but I'd like to try it sometime. My question, though, is where exactly do you park? I've driven by it and other than a few meters, it doesn't look like an easy place to find a space. Is there a trick I'm missing?

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Just a question. I've never been to Thai Square, but I'd like to try it sometime. My question, though, is where exactly do you park? I've driven by it and other than a few meters, it doesn't look like an easy place to find a space. Is there a trick I'm missing?
Not that I know of. Usually, we are able to find a spot on the street in front. When we went this past weekend, that was not possible. But, there were plenty of spots on the first small road that you would come to if walking towards the Cinema Drafthouse.
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Just a question. I've never been to Thai Square, but I'd like to try it sometime. My question, though, is where exactly do you park? I've driven by it and other than a few meters, it doesn't look like an easy place to find a space. Is there a trick I'm missing?

After 6:30, you can park behind the restaurant. There is an alley about three doors past the place, turn in there and then right when you hit open space.

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And, apparently, under no circumstances should you park in the lot of the little strip mall on the corner of Columbia Pike and Glebe, to the left as you're facing the restaurant. I guess you'll be towed before you even get to order your sun-dried beef. (Often, before you are seated, the servers will ask if you have parked there.)

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I had a really off meal at Thai Square last night. The one great dish was an appetizer of Sun-Dried Pork ($7.95), strips of marinated, deep-fried pork served with a bowl of chili dipping sauce. This terrific dish was everything it could have been, and my one regret was that I didn't have it with something to balance it out, perhaps a papaya salad.

A small bowl of Tom Yum Talay ($4.75) was shrimp, scallops, large pieces of squid, and straw mushrooms in a hot-and-sour lemongrass broth. There was nothing wrong with this soup, and I'd order it again if I wanted something vinegary and sour.

The real problems began with the main courses, for which there was a noticeably long wait. Figuring that one of the courses was the culprit, it was jarring to see that all three arrived at the table at a very unsatisfying lukewarm temperature.

I've had Crispy Honey Roasted Duck with Basil ($13.95) a million times here, and this was by far the worst showing ever. As soon as it arrived, I commented that it looked over-battered and mushy, as well as much lighter in color than I've previously seen it. Sure enough, it was barely hot, had been sitting out, and would have been unidentifiable as duck had I not known what it was. The crispy basil was as good as ever.

Pig Knuckle Stew ($11.95) is another favorite of mine here, and while the spicing was very much in line with what I've had in the past, there was precious little meat this time, with the dish being primarily fat and skin (there's nothing wrong with fat and skin, but this ratio was excessive). Like the duck, it was served lukewarm although one or two pieces of the pork approached being hot.

Finally, the Sauteed Eggplant and Bean Curd ($8.95, I think) would have been perfectly fine, had it not also been served barely above room temperature, as well as mushy, most likely from sitting out after having been cooked.

Mango and Sticky Rice had really bad mango (I'm not expecting great mango right now), with nicely salty sticky rice which was unfortunately a bit undercooked. Bua Loi was perfectly fine, but by this time I'd had enough.

If this was anywhere else but Thai Square, I guess I wouldn't have been disappointed, but especially given how much praise I've given this restaurant in the past, I'm writing this in the interest of balance and full disclosure. Perhaps the primary cook had to leave sometime between the appetizers and the main courses? Regardless, I'm writing this off to a bad night - for the time being.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I've had Crispy Honey Roasted Duck with Basil ($13.95) a million times here, and this was by far the worst showing ever. As soon as it arrived, I commented that it looked over-battered and mushy, as well as much lighter in color than I've previously seen it. Sure enough, it was barely hot, had been sitting out, and would have been unidentifiable as duck had I not known what it was. The crispy basil was as good as ever.

Unfortunately I have to add to the negative comments about Thai Square. The first thing that I noticed was that the service was off, not just a little off, but first week opening for a new restaurant off. Our drinks arrived with our appitizers, really how long does it take to open two Singha's? And as soon as we started to eat our appetizers our entrees showed up. Finishing was no better, we had to wait ten minutes after our table was cleared for the bill to show up. I don't go the places like Thai Square for top notch service, but in the past it has been very competent, it just was not so last night.

As for the food, the Sun Dried Beef was fine, but I generally describe this dish as great. In the past I have always enjoyed the rather intense flavor of the dish, and I really liked getting a slightly fatty piece of meat that still contained a little pocket of molten goodness where a piece of fat once sat. Last night it tasted simply like deep-fried lean beef with no other real flavors shinning through.

The Crisp Honey Roasted Duck looked like I remember it looking, and it was nothing like Don describes, however, it was just not as good as what I have had in the past. This version was a little greasy, not as much honey or any of the other complex flavors that I was used to. And I cannot chalk it up to sitting for ten minutes while we finished our appetizers since in the past I have had this dish to go and it was as good as ever after 25 minutes in a take-out box, this was just not the same. And yes, the fried basil was as good as ever.

But the real disappointment of the night was the Pad Thai. In the past Thai Square's version has been very good, actually much better and far less sweet than most versions that I have had in the area. Last night I got a plate that could have been served at any mall food court Thai place. It was overpoweringly sweet with few other flavors coming through, the noodles were over-cooked, the two shrimp that were on the plate were cold and cooked to the point of rubber, and there may have been five crushed peanuts on top. The best I can say about this dish is that the bean sprouts were fresh.

It is an odd night at Thai Square when we leave food on the platters, but last night our half the duck and all but two servings of the Pad Thai were removed still on the platters. I really hope that Thai Square can fix what is wrong with their kitchen, it was always a wonderful treat, but after last night I suspect that Bangkok 54 or even Crystal Thai is going to have to do when I need a Thai fix.

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To celebrate the end of tax season, I headed out to Kotobuki with several coworkers. Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that it's closed on Mondays. As is Makato. We ended up at Thai Square.

We got the Sun Dried Beef and pork satay for the appetizers. One of my coworkers moaned, "OH GOD" after taking a bite of the beef. It was one of those, "this is $#%(ing good" moments. I really do like the dish myself, as did the other two. The other entrees I've had on my four trips to Thai Square have been decent but not jaw-dropping. The crispy squid/duck is a solid choice. Overall, a decent restaurant, but not an all-time favorite.

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I am happy to write that last night's meal at Thai Square was head and shoulders above what I wrote about in May. The Sun Dried Beef was back to its usual self (still to lean for my taste though), and the Crispy Honey Duck was again crispy and not saturated in oil. Just based on those two dishes I would happily contend that the cooking is back on track.

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We brought newbies to Thai Square and, despite the wait (a not-bad 20ish minutes around 7 PM on a Saturday, but it was chilly standing outside the restaurant), they were wowed by the experience. The honey duck delivered a handsome crunch and a huge pile of fried basil, the noodles and curry were warmly spiced, and the flaming tureen of soup, while somewhat difficult to maneuver, made a great table centerpiece.

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Unfortunately I have to add to the negative comments about Thai Square. The first thing that I noticed was that the service was off, not just a little off, but first week opening for a new restaurant off. Our drinks arrived with our appitizers, really how long does it take to open two Singha's? And as soon as we started to eat our appetizers our entrees showed up. Finishing was no better, we had to wait ten minutes after our table was cleared for the bill to show up. I don't go the places like Thai Square for top notch service, but in the past it has been very competent, it just was not so last night.

As for the food, the Sun Dried Beef was fine, but I generally describe this dish as great. In the past I have always enjoyed the rather intense flavor of the dish, and I really liked getting a slightly fatty piece of meat that still contained a little pocket of molten goodness where a piece of fat once sat. Last night it tasted simply like deep-fried lean beef with no other real flavors shinning through.

The Crisp Honey Roasted Duck looked like I remember it looking, and it was nothing like Don describes, however, it was just not as good as what I have had in the past. This version was a little greasy, not as much honey or any of the other complex flavors that I was used to. And I cannot chalk it up to sitting for ten minutes while we finished our appetizers since in the past I have had this dish to go and it was as good as ever after 25 minutes in a take-out box, this was just not the same. And yes, the fried basil was as good as ever.

But the real disappointment of the night was the Pad Thai. In the past Thai Square's version has been very good, actually much better and far less sweet than most versions that I have had in the area. Last night I got a plate that could have been served at any mall food court Thai place. It was overpoweringly sweet with few other flavors coming through, the noodles were over-cooked, the two shrimp that were on the plate were cold and cooked to the point of rubber, and there may have been five crushed peanuts on top. The best I can say about this dish is that the bean sprouts were fresh.

It is an odd night at Thai Square when we leave food on the platters, but last night our half the duck and all but two servings of the Pad Thai were removed still on the platters. I really hope that Thai Square can fix what is wrong with their kitchen, it was always a wonderful treat, but after last night I suspect that Bangkok 54 or even Crystal Thai is going to have to do when I need a Thai fix.

Last night was our first visit to Thai Square. We've tried a number of times over the years but invariably there have been a group of people waiting outside on Columbia Pike and we've ended up elsewhere. Last night, Friday @7:00PM, we were seated five minutes after we walked into the restaurant.

It will be our last visit. Thai Sqaure was awful. "Yellow curry" was literally no better than what I can buy out of the freezer case at Harris Teeter. Bland, even a bit thin with very little flavor. Sun dried beef was badly overcrisped in old oil (approaching burnt edges which with 1/8 to 1/4" thick strips of meat finds the burnt edge overwhelming whatever pencil thin meat there is). Spring rolls were decent but no better than an average Thai in, say, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The huge disappointment was the special, Crispy Whole Rockfish for $22.95.

Overtime I've described restaurants as featuring a variation of fried seafood as "frying as art" (Black Salt, fried oysters at Charleston and Passion Fish, Fritto Misto at Al Covo in Venice). I've had exquisitely crunchy and flavorful fried whole fish at Tommy Tang's and Chinois in L.A. as well as locally at DC Coast.

This was frying as black art. Burnt art. In old oil. Thai Square's kitchen really wanted to make sure this fish was dead: they fried it to a literal shrivelled crisp. Two pounds cooked down to one. The texture of the flesh under the scored, dried out ruby red patched skin (a real description of what this looked like) was not quite mush, it just didn't flake nor did it fall/break apart with a fork. An attempt had been made to fuse it into the bones. I had to use a knife to break into it. When the server presented this I was shocked-it was unlike anything I had expected. Immediately I thought about sending it back but they were gone before I had a chance to react. I crunched into it and dipped a forkful into the chili tamarind sauce in a separate bowl. The chili tamarind sauce was absolutely outstanding! Outstanding! Still, the foul fried fish was so bad it almost ruined it. During the meal a manager stopped by and asked if we were enjoying our food. I'd stopped about a third of the way through the fish and was concentrating on slurping the chili sauce like a thick soup. I thought about telling him my opinion but I didn't want a free meal. He knew what was coming out of this kitchen. He could look at a plate like ours' and see it. A five minute wait on Friday at 7:00PM speaks for itself.

We paid and left. Simply the most disappointing meal I've had in a restaurant anywhere in several years. Whatever Thai Square has been known for and raved about, on Friday night it didn't live up to. This was simply a bad meal. We will not return.

As an addendum I continue to believe that Thai Luang in Herndon is the best Thai restaurant in the Northern Virginia suburbs.

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Unfortunately reporting that I think this place has continued its path downhill. Even though it's only an order of Pad Thai for tonight, it was the most lifeless and tasteless pad thai I've ever had there or anywhere. The shrimp could probably bounce like a super ball tonight. The meal left me feeling bluer than this interface and perhaps a Smurf. What happened here??

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