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Thai by Thai in Sterling VA

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We tried the new Thai by Thai on Route 7 in Sterling this evening and it is another legitimate addition to our collection of good Thai places in the western 'burbs. Thai by Thai replaces Tup Tim Thai, which was good but unexceptional. Thai by Thai is set up like an upscale carryout. You pick up menus at the door, and order and pay at the counter. If you're dining in, they will bring your food to the table.

The menu is quite limited. We stuck almost entirely with appetizers this evening as we weren't in a mood for rice or noodle dishes. We tried:
Fish cakes: mini-burger sized patties with a mixture of fish and vegetables, lightly spiced. Interesting, but unlikely to become a family favorite.
Sundried beef: The inclusion of this Thai street food was what drew me into the restaurant in the first place. The beef was in irregular chunks and strips, not terribly spicy and very flavorful. The chowpup loved this dish.
Shrimp delight: shrimp, red bell pepper, and onion kabobs, with basil leaves between different ingredients. The basil worked well with the pepper and onion. This was good but not thrilling.
Chicken Satay: The chicken was a bit drier than most and came out with plenty of sweet peanut sauce. A very average chicken satay, which is still a very good chicken-on-a stick variant.
Papaya Salad: This was a winner. The generous portion of shredded green papaya was nicely complimented by a sweet/sour/spicy sauce and topped with peanuts.
Yum Neua (beef salad): Another winner. This isn't nearly as incendiary as the version at Tarin, but the flavors worked very well together.
Larb:Again, not as incendiary as some versions, but a generous portion of ground chicken with appropriate traditional spicing.
Kid's Thai Macaroni: This was the chowpup's selection and she declared it delicious. I'm on a low carb diet and didn't try it, but it was not a Kraft mac&cheese. This was elbow macaroni with bacon, chicken, and some vegetables.

Prices were extremely reasonable. All the salads were $4.95 each with fairly generous portions at that price. The Thai iced tea and coffee were priced at $2.25 each. I didn't check pricing on beers, but they did have a couple of microbrews in the line up.

We'll be back. We actually tried ALL of the salads on the small menu, and the selection of entrees is pretty limited. The sundried beef and the papaya salad will keep us coming back, particularly as it makes for a good snack stop before hitting the adjacent Grand Mart.

I'm worried about Thai by Thai's viability. It isn't located where it is likely to get any office crowds for lunch, and it is somewhat hidden from Route 7 traffic by the IHOP. Right now, I don't see any signs that they're americanizing the food. But I am concerned that they will do so over time.

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  1. If you want a real "authentic" Thai meal, go there with a Thai person! They have a Thai menu that has dishes not on the "American" menu... really good street food.

    3 Replies
    1. re: GLW

      Can't you just ask for the Thai menu without canvassing your friends to find one with Thai roots?

      1. re: Bob W

        I think like most ethnic places, the Thai (or otherwise native) menu is not limited to Thai people but to people who can read the "Thai" language menu.

        If you can read it and aren't Thai - I think they'll be more than happy to let you have the menu :-)

        1. re: chew

          Actually - do to popular request, they have translated the Thai menu to English. I believe that they have dropped/added a couple items on that menu. They currently have a Curry Catfish special that is FABULOUS! I'm not sure how long that they'll have it.

    2. The Thai menu with English translation at Thai by Thai is available on request and full of winners. We're particularly partial to the fried pork ribs with sticky rice and the fried pork with broccoli. Both dishes demonstrate that Thai by Thai's frying skills are on a par with Thai Square's.

      This place continues to be a gem.

      3 Replies
      1. re: PollyG

        I've tried most of the regular menu and haven't had bad meal there but didn't know there was a separate menu as well. What else is on it?

        1. re: xdcx

          Even with the addition of the Thai menu, Thai by Thai has pretty limited selections, but their quality is high.

          The Thai menu is probably another 10 items or so. I don't have it memorized. We like the chive dumplings, which are a glutinous dough filled with a LOT of garlic chives. The pork skewers are the only item we've gotten from the Thai menu that aren't terribly exciting--not bad, just sort of plain.

          1. re: PollyG

            I've been able to try a lot of the thai menu and most of it has been excellent. There is a ground chicken and egg dish in a tamarind sauce over rice that is incredible. Fried eggs with soft yolks help to make the dish creamy and cut the spice down slightly. There is a noodle dish with chicken and squid which is like a mild version of drunken noodles. There is a really good spicy beef noodle soup which comes with your choice of with or without internal organs, (tripe, liver, etc) which wasn't that spicy and the broth was nice and light. The only dish that I've tried and didn't like were spicy chicken wings and gizzards. The wings are cleaved and uneven in small pieces and seemed to be more bone than meat. The gizzards were plentiful, and it was definitely one of the spiciest things I've ever eaten in my life.