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Thai X-ing, Owner Taw Vigsittaboot's Thai on 5th Street and Florida Avenue in LeDroit Park, and 9th and V Street in Shaw


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P.S. On second thought, I may feel more charitable on Friday.

The Ellipsis Before Friday's Climax (Thanks, Al Dente, for being nice enough to hold back to help out this aspiring writer's career. Please tell me he said thank you?)

I'm not sure if it's an inherent flaw with the written word, or a simple lack of imagination on the part of writers in general, but this situation recalls the classic authorial problem of adequately conveying dialogue just before the point of orgasm, seemingly always written in the unimaginative form, "I ... I ... I'm ... I'm ... I'm going to ...."

I don't know why I think of these things I just do

Rocks

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This restaurant seems as though it deserves to remain an obscure outpost. I'm not one to complain about when a local neighboorhood spot gets outed and immediately becomes crowded, that's just stupid, but I think maybe X-ing should've been left as an urban legend of sorts, the legend growing daily by word of mouth. Maybe I just feel like DC doesn't have many or any of those places, off the beaten path, incredibly unpretentious, great food but humble all the same. As a chef I wil always want more business, and more press for the restaurant, but were I to inhabit this niche, working solo, I would enjoy that obscurity(as long as the bills get paid, natch). What an incredible freedom it must be to work like that. This board often talks of the "dining" experience from a diner's perspective, usually invoilving good company, and I agree. However the chance to interact with one person, or two people alone with the food, that is an almost unattainable experience for a chef. Of course I'll be heading there in a few months after the rush, by myself.

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I would enjoy that obscurity

Try the obscure duck! Kliman does indeed speak of the restaurant to which I allude. I'd go more into it, but I'm shnockered after a rehearsal dinner and beat.

He's right-- stay away from the stir fries and delve deeply into the curries. Also, step up to the four-burner stove and chat with the man as he makes your meal. This jaunt into the hood is well worth it. Some dishes blow what I've ever had before in the DC area out of the water. Too many Thai places just throw some chicken, ginger, galanga, and lime leaves into a wok and say, badabing, this is Thai. F them.

Thai X-ing is Thai!

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Got some tasty Thai last night. Actually, it was delivered-- by none other than Taw himself. Quite the multi-tasker.

NAM TOK

Grilled slices of beef mixed with Thai spices, spring onion, cilantro and lemon juice

post-27-1134919886_thumb.jpg

PAD THAI PAK

Rice noodles sautéed with fresh bean sprouts, egg, spring onion, red tofu and ground peanuts

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PORK RIBS IN GREEN CURRY

Tender pork ribs in green curry served with fresh string beans

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THAI X-ING CURRY

Thai-style curry with Roast duck in red curry

post-27-1134920046_thumb.jpg

Damn tasty stuff. Especially the curries. I live about 2.5 miles from the restaurant, so I was surprised that they would deliver here.

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Well, Al Dente, if you're wondering how far your endorsements go, I gave Thai X-ing a try last night based on your post. A few websites I found discussing the place mentioned how this entire thing is a one man show. Although he at least has someone else there answering the phone. I called about 7:40 last night and was immediately informed that Taw was out on delivery, so I'd have to wait 30 minutes before he started on my food. Actually the guy on the phone said "he was out on delivery," assuming I knew what the deal was. Also peculiar was that this guy seemed to have little familiarity with the menu, since he instructed that I order by number as opposed to dish. (Thank goodness you posted the menu above...)

Anyway about 45 minutes later Taw himself called to verify the directions to my place and said he was on his way. So it was about 55 minutes from order to delivery. I tipped him well, since he was a friendly guy and I'm at 18th and U-ish, around 13 blocks from his place.

I really enjoyed my three choices, the chicken pad thai, chicken panang curry, and sweet and sour pork (preaw whan?). Two things I noticed -- the dishes were probably less sweet than I'm used to, and they were made richer by adding ingredients you don't usually see (ie, broccoli in the pad thai, cauliflower in the panang). I wonder if this is indicative of more traditional thai cooking. I did enjoy them immensely, though. I can't give it the #1 one ranking in DC just yet, but I would put it among the top three.

I'm still curious to see how he can keep this operation running smoothly. I got lucky by calling on a Sunday night with only one customer ahead of me. How does it work on a busier night like Saturday? What if he's got people waiting in the shop when a call comes in?

Next time I need to go for the duck Al pictured above. Question: are those green things in there beans or chilis?

Edited by The Doctor
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Thai X-ing is still going strong and for the first time I saw Taw wearing pants. Usually he is wearing a sarong-like outfit but I guess the cold got to him. I get takeout from here about once a month and every time I go here I am still amazed at what this guy is doing in a basement apartment in Shaw. This is a place that has to be experienced because there is no accurate way to really describe it. It is really a one man show with a rotating cast of occasional helpers. The other night I realized that the one table inside the restaurant would make the perfect intimate chef's table. It is literally four feet from the chef and you couldn't fit more than six people in the restaurant without causing a fire hazard.

I had my usual order of red curry salmon and udon pork and tried the pad thai for the first time. All were really good, but the salmon really stands out. It is a simple preparation, a large piece of skin on salmon cooked in a red curry sauce with bamboo shoots and eggplant topped with Thai basil, where the completed dish is so much greater than its individual parts. I'm not a big salmon fan as I find it pretty boring most of the time but his is ethereal and I would put it near the top of my favorite fish preparations. The udon pork was very flavorful as well and Taw is not shy in his use of the Thai peppercorns. I found the pad thai to be a little too sweet for my taste and prefer his drunken noodles.

While talking to one of the girls helping out the other night I found out that the new space on 9th street is moving ahead-not sure on an opening date. It will seat at least 30 people and will have an outdoor patio. The plan is to continue to keep open the original location as well but I can't see how that would be viable and if Taw left the character would be completely different.

If you are looking for a unique and funky dining experience you should consider trying this place before it disappears.

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While talking to one of the girls helping out the other night I found out that the new space on 9th street is moving ahead-not sure on an opening date. It will seat at least 30 people and will have an outdoor patio. The plan is to continue to keep open the original location as well but I can't see how that would be viable and if Taw left the character would be completely different.

Where did you find out about a new location? This is the first I've heard of it. I have been meaning to order from here for the longest time, but he only delivers on Friday and it hasn't worked with my schedule. I agree with you -- the place won't be the same once it expands.

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Surreal experience last night at Thai X-ing. In short, the guy that Taw has answering his phone and working his cash register (Paulo or Apollo?) fits the place perfectly. Out of sorts, wandering around the restaurant, boasting to the other two patrons in the restaurant about the sexual escapades of his youth, and barely knowing how to work the register. I felt like I had mistakenly walked into someone's apartment, with (working) computers and TVs sitting on random ledges, a fish tank that looked like it hadn't been cleaned in some time, an empty bird cage, wood idols hung on the walls, and countless other pictures and nicknacks strewn about. This place is a total anomaly in DC, it is like one of those bodegas or small restaurants that you go to in NYC that are so odd that you can't help but love them.

Salmon with red curry is as good as advertised, and might very well be the best Thai dish I have ever had. The Ka Prow was also quite good, as my spice loving fiancee only shared one bite before keeping the rest to herself. Pad See-Ew was pretty good, although it was really overshadowed by the other two other great entrees.

I generally have found the Thai that I have had to be too sweet and a bit dumbed-down, but this place got it right. Everything was spicy enough that it will make the beads show up on your brow, but it is not so hot that you cannot taste the basil, curry, and other great spices underneath.

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I ate here for the first time last night and it was better than any thai food I've had in DC.

The tastes were bright and simple -- every component, every flavor was identifiable. The soups, in particular, were excellent. I was surprised to enjoy the salmon in red curry, because it's just not a dish I've seen done well at other places. I did find the duck a little fatty, and it probably could have used a little more time/heat to render that out. Still, I can't wait to eat through the menu.

For the uninitiated (me), Taw appears to be the soup nazi of thai chefs. Two women had walked in just before me, without calling ahead, intending to dine in the minuscule sitting area cum dining room. They were told it'd be 30-40 minutes before they were served, even though they were the only people in the place. Then, when they tried to order a dish "mild", were informed that all dishes came with whatever amount of heat the chef deemed appropriate. My advice is to order well in advance, let Taw do what he does, and expect about 1:20 between the time you order and the time you walk away with your food.

In related news, the new location is set to open "around Christmas" according to the woman who bagged up my order. The original location will remain open as a takeout (as mentioned upthread). Sadly, I was not given any details on the status of the Taw cloning effort.

Alex

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It would be nice if I knew it was going to be 1:20 between the time I call and the time my order is ready. It's very inconsistent and not worth ordering on Friday and Saturday night IMO. The last time I ordered food on a Friday I was told it would be between an hour and an hour and a half for it to be prepared. It wound up taking 2:45!

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I had an overwhelmingly positive experience here tonight. I was able to try five things, the highlight of which was the green curry sauce which was simply incredible. The sauce itself was wonderfully thick, and the heat was nicely balanced by the coconut milk and the chicken. The Yum Woon Sen was also surprisingly hot, and I was also pleased with the way the mushrooms balanced the dish. Both of these items were really impressively delicate considering how spicy they were, and I was also impressed that they used that much spice without asking us questions. The sauce on the pad thai while not hot was wonderful and much more assertive than other renditions of the dish I've had, and the pieces of tofu were a nice touch. The pork with basil was less enjoyable, and I found the sauce on the larb to be disappointingly simple compared with the other dishes.

Easily the best Thai food I've had in the DC area, and the green curry sauce was about as good as anything I've had anywhere.

I was also pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the dining room, and while I was going to say it would make a great date spot for the right people I think you would have to be pretty sure the conversation was going to go well to brave the wait, which was as brutal as advertised. We ended up waiting about ninety minutes, which worked out to twice what we were initially quoted. They were polite about it, and I thought the food was well worth the wait.

Does anyone know whether the second location mentioned above ever opened?

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Its menu has me literally almost on the floor laughing, although it sounds like a great strategy to have the freshest ingredients. I am the most reservation-adverse person you'll find, but I need to plan this one out one day.

Please call several days ahead for either take-out or eat-in reservations.
Please call ahead - Reservations are required for both eat-in and carry-out.
HOW TO PLACE YOUR ORDER!
It is best to place take-out orders by phone at least ONE day in advance. Please call between 10am and 1pm.
You may also fax orders, but be sure to follow up and get a verbal confirmation that it has been received.
Seating reservations should also be made at least one day in advance, but if you want to ensure a table it is
recommended to call a week in advance. Sorry no e-mail orders at this time.
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Its menu has me literally almost on the floor laughing, although it sounds like a great strategy to have the freshest ingredients. I am the most reservation-adverse person you'll find, but I need to plan this one out one day.

i guess it's worth going through this rigamarole to be able to eat the food, which was the best thai cooking for miles around the first and last time i tasted it maybe a year ago. it was better than the thai cooking you can find these days in wheaton. but i would not want to eat in the cramped dining room, although i didn't mind waiting there for half an hour watching other people eating there, practically looking right over their shoulders, or literally climbing over them to finally retrieve my order. reserving a day in advance for carryout is on the extreme side, if you ask me. it's a case of further reclusion. this place is never coming out of its shell.

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i guess it's worth going through this rigamarole to be able to eat the food

I totally disagree. I love Thai X-ing as much as the next guy, but making a reservation a day in advance to get take out Thai food? Or to actually eat in that little, dark, uncomfortable space? No thanks. He should have just sucked it up and hired 2-3 people to run the place solely as a takeout joint, with him doing the cooking, someone doing the boxing and packaging, one person working the phones, and one person delivering to the immediate area surrounding the restaurant. It's a bit absurd that it has come to this, but unfortunately it sounds like I have eaten my last meal at Thai X-ing.

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I totally disagree. I love Thai X-ing as much as the next guy, but making a reservation a day in advance to get take out Thai food? Or to actually eat in that little, dark, uncomfortable space? No thanks. He should have just sucked it up and hired 2-3 people to run the place solely as a takeout joint, with him doing the cooking, someone doing the boxing and packaging, one person working the phones, and one person delivering to the immediate area surrounding the restaurant. It's a bit absurd that it has come to this, but unfortunately it sounds like I have eaten my last meal at Thai X-ing.

I hear he's not a businessman and does it for the love of food. If that's what it takes to have amazing food, I'd much rather have someone who loves their art so much that they will not compromise and instead, others as passionate about his food take the reigns and volunteer to keep the operation and love of Thai cuisine going.

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So I was looking over the take-out menu and IDed some things we would order. I just placed this call about 10 minutes ago, and here's how it went:

ME: Hi I'd like to place an order for carry-out tomorrow.

TAW: Carry-out tomorrow? OK, how many people will it be?

ME: For carryout? Two.

TAW: Two for carryout. So what were you thinking?

ME: Well, I'd like to order the #9, the Nam Tok and then I was leaning towards --

TAW: okay

ME: -- leaning towards a curry, maybe the Pumpkin curry --

TAW: okay, sounds like you don't have any menu restrictions? You eat meat? Well I can do A curry, but then I'll do a noodle and then a vegetable? Would you like a Mango sticky rice for dessert?

ME: uh, I guess?

TAW: Ok good. What time will you pick up?

ME: let's see you open at 5:00?

TAW: . . . 5:30 . . . or 6:00.

ME: ok 6.

TAW: Okay, see you tomorrow.

ME: Ok sounds good. Uh, do I have to bring anything special or do anything?

TAW: What are you talking about, this is just carry-out!

ME: Right.

EDIT: figured it would be a good idea to know how much to pay, so I called back 45 minutes later to ask. Got the Voicemail, which says the following:

Fri and Saturday: $40 price fixe menu served by candlelight

Sunday: $30 price fixe vegan/veggie menu served by candlelight

Mon thru Thur: Chef Choice only

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So I was looking over the take-out menu and IDed some things we would order. I just placed this call about 10 minutes ago, and here's how it went:

ME: Hi I'd like to place an order for carry-out tomorrow.

TAW: Carry-out tomorrow? OK, how many people will it be?

ME: For carryout? Two.

TAW: Two for carryout. So what were you thinking?

ME: Well, I'd like to order the #9, the Nam Tok and then I was leaning towards --

TAW: okay

ME: -- leaning towards a curry, maybe the Pumpkin curry --

TAW: okay, sounds like you don't have any menu restrictions? You eat meat? Well I can do A curry, but then I'll do a noodle and then a vegetable? Would you like a Mango sticky rice for dessert?

ME: uh, I guess?

TAW: Ok good. What time will you pick up?

ME: let's see you open at 5:00?

TAW: . . . 5:30 . . . or 6:00.

ME: ok 6.

TAW: Okay, see you tomorrow.

ME: Ok sounds good. Uh, do I have to bring anything special or do anything?

TAW: What are you talking about, this is just carry-out!

ME: Right.

EDIT: figured it would be a good idea to know how much to pay, so I called back 45 minutes later to ask. Got the Voicemail, which says the following:

Fri and Saturday: $40 price fixe menu served by candlelight

Sunday: $30 price fixe vegan/veggie menu served by candlelight

Mon thru Thur: Chef Choice only

LMAO. That is too funny. I admire your patience. Let us know how the food is and if there are any new twists and turns with the great Taw.

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Well I had excellent food. A tofu sour soup, a drunken noodle with chicken, an excellent butternut squash red curry, and a sticky mango dessert. I want to put that upfront, because wow -- what a crazy experience it was to visit. To recount it truthfully may come across as a hyperbole, but what's a little playful bashing amongst friends?

I showed up at 6pm. The basement restaurant's floor consists of two 4-tops and two 2-tops. Taw's helper, a tall blonde, greeted me with "Uh, didn't you call and cancel your order?" No, I did not. "Oh. Don't worry, we can get you your food in 30 minutes". Ok, why not?

67 sweaty minutes later, I was out the door. In that time I saw:

  • other carry-out reservations come in, all waited at least an extra 20 minutes
  • a cat walk out of the kitchen into the dining room
  • alot of hard-core fans who BYOB and just let TAW do his thing
  • the kitchen spend about 5 minutes trying to find the right to-go containers for my carryout
  • after giving me my order, the tall blonde realizes that my soup isn't in the bag
  • While putting the soup (another 5 min ordeal) in my to-go bag, Taw realizes that the tall blonde did not seal the boxes to my entrees. I did not hear the subsequent conversation clearly, but it was in the spirit of "it's very important to close things properly or else the food will spill everywhere". Good thing they forgot my soup I guess

Back home, enjoyed easily the best Thai food I've ever had. I would do it again if I had a spare 3 hours. You have to be willing to eat anything though, and all of the regulars I met were very forgiving of the wait.

I got to admit, I was very jealous of Taw afterwards. Who wouldn't want to spend their day making delicious food solely on your own terms? And have virtually no other accountability to your customers, as long as you meet the deliciousness standard? It totally blew my mind, and for the next two days, I spent more time in the kitchen doing non-justifiable things, like peeling broccoli and asparagus, and otherwise putting too much care in my mise en place.

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Can someone outline the current policy regarding eating in on a weekend?

I gather that reservation is required. Is there an a la carte menu, a prix fixe menu, or just whatever the chef wants to make?

BYOB is allowed?

Sietsema is re-reviewing it this weekend (2 stars), and it sounds like it's all chef's choice, no more takeout. Sunday is vegetarian only. No clue on BYOB, but if they don't have a license, I doubt it's okay to bring alcohol in.

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Sietsema is re-reviewing it this weekend (2 stars), and it sounds like it's all chef's choice, no more takeout. Sunday is vegetarian only. No clue on BYOB, but if they don't have a license, I doubt it's okay to bring alcohol in.

I read Sietsema's article and I wrote my post because that article's not very informative. In fact, Tom wrote "that if you want beer or wine you'll have to bring your own."

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It's been a few months since my last visit, but I have always done BYOB without any challenges.

Dave

I read Sietsema's article and I wrote my post because that article's not very informative. In fact, Tom wrote "that if you want beer or wine you'll have to bring your own."

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Random question -- Going to try this place for the first time. I have heard vague things (including above) about a cat lounging around the restaurant. Is that true? It's an important consideration for this very cat-allergic guy. Not enough of a problem to keep me totally away, but I will need to med-up with antihistamines beforehand if the cat story is true.

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Random question -- Going to try this place for the first time. I have heard vague things (including above) about a cat lounging around the restaurant. Is that true? It's an important consideration for this very cat-allergic guy. Not enough of a problem to keep me totally away, but I will need to med-up with antihistamines beforehand if the cat story is true.

FWIW I have only seen the cat on the top (Third floor) of the expansion side of things. And I didn't see the cat the last time I was there. So while it might not hop up on your lap or circle your table, it is certainly cat lived in.

We've also seen people napping behind the partition upstairs in the dining room during a meal, but that's another story entirely...

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I love this website. For years, I felt insecure about not having had the gumption to put up with all the hassles that were apparently necessary, in order to eat at this restaurant. Now, I can tell people, "oh, I would go there I suppose - I hear that the food is fine - but you know, they have a cat wandering around, and my allergies wouldn't permit it."

A cat, wandering around. That's nasty, baby. Dog would be cute, but a cat. damn.

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Eh, it's not like there was a rat hanging from its mouth. During my (long) time waiting for my order, I got a chance to survey his kitchen fairly closely. Taw is a very clean guy, keeps his stations clean, wipes up little spills on his cooktop immediately so it doesn't get caked on. I understand cats (or any animals) in the kitchen are unacceptable for some people, but I just imagined it probably happens in Thailand (am I being superior here?) and decided it added a touch of authenticity.

Then again, I used to have a cat and it wandered in my kitchen all the time. FWIW.

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The cat is was straight chillin. At least that was the case when my party of three dined at Thai X-ing Tuesday evening. We sat on the third floor where service and pacing seemed more relaxed than when we sat in the basement a few months ago. Tuesday is vegetarian night with (optional) two fish dishes which we were on board for. In total, we ended up with ten courses at $30 per person plus we brought a bottle of Verdelho from my personal stash to enjoy with the meal. It was gut busting to say the least.

The first three courses that came out were a papaya salad, lemongrass soup, and fish cakes. The papaya salad was my favorite of these three even though it was heavy on the tomatoes (but I love tomatoes so I was a happy camper). Lots of spice and freshness. The lemongrass soup was also very good. Kind of reminded me of the Thai tom kha soup but without the chicken. My only issue with this soup was that the aromatics (lemongrass, bay leaves, chunks of ginger) were not removed from the soup prior to serving which made it a little awkward when someone ended up with a bay leaf in their mouth and had to discreetly remove it. The fish cake was the least successful of our first three courses. The fish was salmon that had been finely chopped (maybe in a food processor) and then formed into cakes and pan fried. It was served over a sweet chili sauce. Without the sauce, the fish was rather tasteless and it was only slightly better with the sweet chili sauce.

Once we dispatched of our three appetizers, the server brought out the next three dishes and a huge bowl of steamed rice. The dishes were, stir fried eggplant and tofu, pineapple and tofu curry, pumpkin in curry. I had the pumpkin in curry before and loved it so I helped myself to a huge wedge over some steamed rice. Oddly, I started feeling full half way through this serving which put a damper on the rest of meal. Although, I didn't have much of it, the pineapple and tofu curry was also really good and a favorite of one of my dining companions. My other dining companion preferred the stir fried eggplant while I picked up some of the tofu in that dish. I thought all three of these dishes were good though I preferred the two curries to the eggplant and tofu stir fry. Also of note is that none of these dishes were particularly spicy.

The next two dishes that came out were pad se ew, a fish cupcake, stir fried watercress. Everyone at my table enjoyed the fish cupcake which was served in a banana leaf. I love Thai noodle dishes and had as much pad se ew as I could. I thought it was good but didn't think it was much better than what I had at Beau Thai. The watercress was just simply stir fried in garlic and some fish sauce. It was good, but not particularly special. I think we would have preferred the watercress served in the second round of dishes rather than towards the end of the meal.

To top off the evening, the server brought out the dessert. I tried to figure out what it was but have not been successful. The bottom seemed to be rice pudding and the top seemed to be sweetened coconut milk that had been congealed (maybe with gelatin?). It was served cold, I liked it enough but wasn't crazy about it.

Overall, I would say that the meal was a great value and also very tasty. The sum of the meal was greater than it's parts given the price and amount of food that came out (we ended up bringing home most of the watercress and pad se ew home for leftovers as well as parts of the two curries and the eggplant and tofu stirfry) but I think I would be disappointed with the meal if this was an a la carte restaurant and we had paid as such. Also, I felt that the food the last time we went (with meat dishes), was more interesting and had a greater variance of flavor and spice so my preference would be to go back on a non-vegetarian or non-vegan night. Overall, we left full and happy and at the end of the day that is what makes for a successful restaurant outing.

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So sounds like BYOB is still in effect? We're going next Tuesday and I wasn't sure the protocol here. Just bring it in and they'll give you glasses to serve it?

The last time I went to Thai X-ing, we sat in the basement and we had to hail a server to provide us with glasses. Also, a table across from us wheeled in a freaking cooler of beers and one person at the end was in charge of distributing the bottles upon request.

Yesterday, we sat on the top level and had a corkscrew and glasses waiting for us. A very different service experience all around from the last time we went.

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The last time I went to Thai X-ing, we sat in the basement and we had to hail a server to provide us with glasses. Also, a table across from us wheeled in a freaking cooler of beers and one person at the end was in charge of distributing the bottles upon request.

Yesterday, we sat on the top level and had a corkscrew and glasses waiting for us. A very different service experience all around from the last time we went.

So you're saying we should bring a screwtop bottle and solo cups? :P

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The lemongrass soup was also very good. Kind of reminded me of the Thai tom kha soup but without the chicken. My only issue with this soup was that the aromatics (lemongrass, bay leaves, chunks of ginger) were not removed from the soup prior to serving which made it a little awkward when someone ended up with a bay leaf in their mouth and had to discreetly remove it.

FYI Tom Yum and Tom Kha "soups" should always have floating chunks lemongrass, galangal (never ginger) and kaffir lime leaves (not bay leaves). For some reason, they are never removed prior to serving, probably because they continue to flavor the broth as it sits. Thai people know to eat around them. Others learn the hard way after trying to eat whole lemongrass or galangal. BTW The Thai word for galangal is Kha. Tom Kha literally means boiled galangal.

Thanks for the review. One day I will actually make it to this place. Glad to hear it's still good.

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I was strolling over to American Ice Company the other night and happened to notice this, which I'm surprised to have not heard about until now.

I'm a fan of Thai X-ing, my last visit being one of the most satisfying meals I have had in a good long while (who could complain about 4 courses and free corkage for $40?).  The current space is much improved from the old days, but this looked and seems like it might be even more of an upgrade.

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