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Kanlaya Thai, Thai at 6th and H Street Just East of Verizon Center in Chinatown - Closed


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As an allergic person, I approach every meal as a battle. After all, luck favors the prepared (wo)man. What's really in that "vegetable" oil? Are you sure there's no breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, whole walnuts that are going to end up sprinkled on my salad?

So when I get a craving for Asian flavors, I wrestle with my desire to have my tongue sting and my nose run, delighting in the mix of garlic, thai basil, and anything else that could make my mouth sing with heat.

Yesterday, I couldn't get Thai food out of my head. I thought about it the whole walk home. It was cold, I was tired, and damn, wouldn't some lemongrass really help my headache? I wanted chili oil, and I wanted it bad. When I opened my mailbox, I knew I was defeated- there sat a takeout menu from Kanlaya Thai.

I am terrified of ordering delivery from Asian restaurants. When I go for Chinese, it's steamed, plain with white sauce on the side. Japanese is sashimi with no soy sauce. Indian? Forget about it. And Thai- could I really expect to eat safely in a restaurant filled with cashews and bean sprouts scattered like land mines?

I had to chance it though. I called them, explained my allergies, and was told that the chef could prepare chicken Ka Pow for me with corn oil instead of soybean, and that I'd be ok with the Tom Yum Goong. I repeated my allergies. I was told it would be no problem. I told them they could kill me. I was reassured. So, I gave them my credit card number and 45 minutes later, the food arrived.

Oh, man, was it good. Maybe not the most spectacular Thai cuisine in the world, but what do I know? It certainly hit the spot. The soup had just the right amount of heat, with plenty of mushrooms, lemongrass and two big shrimp, plump and not at all overcooked. The Ka Pow was a good portion of chicken, a little dry though, and could have been a bit spicier. To remedy that I just poured a bit of broth on the dish.

And- guess what- I'm still here! No anaphylactic reactions, no horrid stomach cramps. So thank you to Kanlaya Thai, for satisfying my craving, deliciously and responsibly- for me the most important element of all.

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From time to time, I walk over to Chinatown from the culinary hell near Union Station and Kanlaya is one of my normal stops. I have only found one dish that I really like, the others have been not worth ordering a second time. The one dish I really like is the Thai Traditional Panag w/ Chicken (#36 on their menu). The Pad Pik King is hot, but otherwise flavorless, the Pad See Ew is gummy and overly sweet, and the Curries are nothing worth remembering. I will continue to explore the menu, but so far Kanlaya's batting average is worse than A-Rod in October.

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My son and I had lunch at Kanlaya yesterday. We had thai spring rolls, poa tak, salmon penang and spicy fried rice with chicken. The spicy fried rice was good but I thought the salmon was over cooked, the spring rolls were good and the poa tak was just ok. I took pictures but don't know how to post them. We then headed over to Love Cafe. My son had the cheesecake, which he really enjoyed. I had the vanilla cake. I liked it but wasn't blown away. We also had dinner at Twins Jazz. I had doro wat with collard greens and red lentils and my son had the cheeseburger with fries. The doro wat was nice and spicy and the collards were good but I didn't care for the lentils. My son didn't comment on the cheeseburger. I didn't take any pictures of the food because It was really dark in there and all the tables were too close together, also I was there just for the music. My brother's band played last night.

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Not bad red curry chicken, though despite being Asian and requested extra spicy, I did not receive. Luckily my friend asked for the chili plate (which is just a plate with three beautiful porcelain containers) that includes red pepper (like you see at pizzerias, but smelled like dry roasted peanuts), and two types of pickled chilies. They were really spicy and delicious on their own as well as with the dish. They were super bright and flavorful. Yum! I'd go back just to eat some of those chilies.

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Kanylaya Thai is good for pad thai!!

I think that the Pad Thai there is far too sweet, and does not have much in the way of complexity frankly I have yet to have a noodle dish here that I care for. They generally do a very good job with Chicken Panang and if you are going to eat it there the Crispy Kapow Shrimp are quite good (they don't stay crispy in the take out container).

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Went here with my father on Monday - he is more of a steak and potatoes eater, so the ginger tea (which is spicy and great if you have a cold), was too much for him. I have no idea how authentic this place is, but my father really enjoyed the Tom Yum soup. I had the vegetables and tofu sauteed and served in a half pineapple with cashews and pineapple chunks, in a sweet and sour ginger sauce. There was a lot of sauce left over, but I enjoyed it. The presentation was very cool. The place smelled a little bit like wet carpet, but the food was good and the price was great.

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Maybe I was there on an off night a few weeks back, but the seafood in the Yum Talay was tired, there was a small amount of rubber duck in the red curry, and the service was rushed and thoughtless. Not even in the same ballpark as the better places in the burbs.

Not sure why this place is ranked so high in the Chinatown section. Definitely belongs below the few decent Chinese options on the list, based on my (one) visit.

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Closed, also closed are its neighbors Urfa Tomato and Burma.

Wow, I'm just now reading this. I knew about Urfa Tomato and Burma, but not Kanlaya Thai [thanks, Sthitch - I neglected to update the dining guide for all of these]. Goodeats and I had dinner here maybe two years ago (GE, do you remember when?), and neither of us were impressed. Kanlaya used to be the best restaurant east of Verizon Center (which even at the time wasn't saying much at all), but it went downhill (a bit) from the middling restaurant it was.

You know, I'm not saying any of these places were very good (although Burma was decent ten years ago), but they had a degree of mom-n-pop-ness to them that I suspect is forever lost at 740 6th St. NW. Next up: the Chinese restaurants on H Street. Yeah, I know, you can say good riddance (which is what I did *before* they tore down the Third Church Of Christ), but the closure of these restaurants makes me feel, viscerally, why brian didn't want it torn down (although I grant that he had a more intellectually sound reason).

It's time to eliminate the name "Chinatown" - who are we kidding? At this point, it's just incorrect and confusing - like naming conquered towns and their rivers after native American nations, it's more disrespectful than respectful. Typical real-estate developer bullshit: "Let's lie to them, and then twenty years later, we'll be retired and living in Miami, and who cares what happens after we're gone." Remember those storefronts in Clarendon where Taste of Morocco is (or was)? Same lies. "Oh, nothing will change. These places aren't going to close; everything is fine!" Evans Farm Inn? Same lies. "We're 'paving the way' for a livable, walkable Tysons Corner." The only thing you've "paved the way for" is another Mercedes - the biggest one you can find - you bunch of lying maggots. No, I take it back: Corvette, not Mercedes. Just make sure your toupée doesn't fly off when you put the top down.

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It's time to eliminate the name "Chinatown" - who are we kidding? 

I've never called it Chinatown since moving here from Chicago 13 years ago. It's always been China-block. And at least back then there was a Chinese grocery on H St.  I think that's where Vapiano's is now.

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