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May 23, 2001 05:29 PM

Pad Thai in DC, No. VA

  • g

Greetings to the DC Chowhounds! I've been drooling over the posts here for months now, and loving you all more than you'll ever know. All I can say is, keep up the good work drinking, eating, and relating the experiences with pure culinary poetry!

I write with a small mission. A friend of mine has started cooking Thai food, mostly Pad Thai and soups. As a research project (a-hem) he is looking for Thai joints in the area where he can compare and contrast styles. Any tips you have would be much appreciated.



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  1. I love the Pad Thai at the new Sweet Basil in Bethesda, and Oodles Noodles (locations in DC and Bethesda) has delicious and inexpensive noodle dishes! Try the Peanut Noodle.....yummy!

    1. The absolute BEST Pad Thai I have EVER HAD is at Chiengmai in Fairfax City (on University Drive). Small mom and pop place, 15 tables max. Homemade, from scratch, totally fresh. I could eat there everyday...

      1 Reply
      1. re: Anthony

        Chengmai has very good garlic chicken too.

        Their food is milder than many of the other fine Thai restaurants around here, so it may be a good choice if someone in the party doesn't go for really spicy food.

      2. j
        Jamon Provence

        Every 4th of July in Catlett, VA. the Wat Buddhavong festival is held at the Buddhist temple grounds about 30 minutes SW of DC. Thai, Lao and Vietnamese from Canada to Texas flock to the 3-day event.
        The food booths are incredible. More pad thai versions made on the spot (observe techniques), fantastic thai sausages grilling away and made to order green papaya "salads" that will make a Thai cry uncle.
        Plus, loads of ingredient booths for cooking at home. Kafir lime trees for sale. We never miss it.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Jamon Provence

          You're kidding me!!! A few years ago, I worked for a radio station in Manassas, and on occasion, we did live broadcasts at the Catlett IGA....I thought that was all that was out there! Nicest people around! I'll have to check it out!

          1. re: Jamon Provence

            Does anyone know more details about this Buddhist festival? Which three days is it? My husband and I spent 2 fantastic months eating our way through SE Asia and this sounds like heaven. We'd drive all the way from Central VA for food like that!

            1. re: meredith
              Jamon Provence

              I believe it is always July 3,4,5.

            2. re: Jamon Provence

              Hi Chowhounds! I spoke with the owner of our (excellent) family-owned Thai restaurant here in Charlottesville, and she says the Buddhist festival encompasses the weekend PREVIOUS to the 4th of July, since folks travel from far away. It does sound like there's some celebration on the 4th, though. She seemed confident and says she goes every year. The hours are ten-ish in the AM to six-ish in the evening. That's my best info, if anyone sees anything official, please post it! It sounds like a lot of fun from her description.

              1. re: meredith

                For more information on the Wat Buddhavong Festival next weekend, go to It contains dates and info for the festival, as well as an address. A lot of the info is in Lao (!), but you can get the basics. Plus it's very entertaining.

            3. d
              Doug Herbert

              I've probably eaten pad thai at 20 or so DC & Nova restaurants. The best, by far, is at Crystal Thai, which is on Route 50 (Arlington Blvd) in Arlington, right at the intersection with Park St.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Doug Herbert

                Crystal Thai's softshell crabs (it's that time of year) are also great. They offer a choice of about 8 sauces.

                People related to the Crystal Thai folks run Paya Thai on Old Courthouse Rd just off Chain Bridge near Tysons Corner (within sight of the "toilet bowl" building". This place doesn't get much press with showy joints like Busara and Tara Thai nearby and now Neisha Thai right in the mall, but it's quite good and they also offer softshells with a good choice of sauces, plus some other unusual dishes.

                1. re: Bob W.
                  Doug Herbert

                  I think Paya Thai is run by Boon (forgot his last name and could never spell it anyway). He was the original owner of Crystal Thai. Boon did one of the nicest (and smartest, he has a master's in marketing) things I've ever seen a restaurant owner do. When Crystal Thai had been open for a year (back in 1993), he invited some of the restaurant's regulars for a Buddhist Thanksgiving ceremony, preceding by a free Thai feast, with lots of fantastic dishes I'd never seen before or since.

                  It was a memorable meal and experience, with the chanting monks and the opportunity to meet the restaurant's other fans -- one had recently returned from Bangkok where he had stayed in the exact hotel room whose view is depicted in the painted mural on Crystal Thai's wall.

                  Guess this blows my cover -- I'm not exactly unbiased where Crystal Thai is concerned, but they *DO* have the best pad Thai in the DC area.