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Panisa Thai, Burke Center


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Newly opened Panisa is the mom-and-pop operation of Tommy, long-time barback at Alexandria's Union Street pub, and his wife, a caterer. Some friends of mine went to the "official" opening last Sunday and reported great Thai food, as well as a roomful of Asians. I haven't been yet myself. Can we get a recon report?

In the former Pacific Cafe space at 5747 Burke Centre Parkway. (703) 239 2777.

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Reporting back on a latish lunch Panisa Thai, which is fairly close to my residence. Definitely has that mom-and-pop thing going. Friendly, attentive service, pristine, immaculate environment.

It's a comfortable environment, not as slickly modern as the big name Thai restaurants. The flavors are not as intense or complex as those of the big name Thai restaurants, either, more like Thai comfort food, something your Thai grandmother might make, good value for money, but without that jolt.

We both had shrimp tom yum soup, which my +1 raved about, while I remain undecided, due to the unexpected addition of a whisper of fenugreek, which he loved.

He had a beef salad, which provided a lot of beef for the money, but not as much lime juice or fish sauce as one might have expected. I had a chicken and rice vermicelli salad, which also provided a lot of meat for the money but less intensity than I was expecting.

We were asked to specify the level of heat for the entrees. For my pad ki mau (drunkard's noodles) I said "medium" and got slices of jalapeno peppers, which serves me right for wimping out. He said "very hot" (the waitress asked "Thai hot?" and he said "yes!", she said "4?" and he said "yes!) and he got prik ki nu (bird peppers) for his pad ka prow. My noodles were delicious, his pad ka prow was better. Not enough holy basil in either, though.

Most of the other diners were Asians, probably Thai.

The one jarring note was the rock and heavy metal soundtrack, by which I mean Foreigner, AC-DC, et al. Soft enough to be background music, but strangely out of place.

If you go, it's in the Burke Center shopping center, a large strip mall at the intersection of Burke Center Parkway and Ox Road (Route 123), just a little south of George Mason University.

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The one jarring note was the rock and heavy metal soundtrack, by which I mean Foreigner, AC-DC, et al. Soft enough to be background music, but strangely out of place.

If you go, it's in the Burke Center shopping center, a large strip mall at the intersection of Burke Center Parkway and Ox Road (Route 123), just a little south of George Mason University.

I think you just might have figured out the reason for the soundtrack. :mellow:

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Went last friday night with the family. As previous responders have mentioned, the restaurant is small and very nicely decorated. I would hazard to say though that it is not extremely baby friendly. Not that the staff isn't accomodating but there isn't enough room to put a car seat.

Now to the food. We got the pad thai, the bob's noodle (drunken noodle) and some crispy duck dish. We also got an order of their wontons.

The clear winners were the drunken noodles and the wontons. Probably the best I have had since before Sampan Cafe changed management.

The drunken noodles were spicy and had an almost smokey flavor. Definently worth going back for.

The other dishes were ok IMO. The Pad Thai was a little too sweet. It tasted like they used regular refined sugar instead of palm sugar. I prefer the rendition at Thai Basil in Chantilly. The crispy duck was pretty good but all I could think of when eating it was how I needed to get out to Thai Square sometime soon.

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