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Trying to find Masaman Curry Thai dish in NoVA

Hounds, I'm a very recent relo from Boston. I've been to many Thai restaurants in my short 3 months here and I can't find Masaman Curry. It's a yellow curry dish that is ubiquitous in New England Thai restaurants.

Here's a description: curry and coconut milk with potatoes, butternut squash, roasted peanuts, onions, carrots, green peppers and red peppers.

My craving is growing daily! Can anyone help? TIA!

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  1. Huh. I thought everyone knew about how tasty the dish was at Sakul Thai, although it doesn't seem to match your description:

    33. Mussamun Beef * Classic peanut-curry dish slow-cooked with tender beef and potatoes


    Maybe it isn't the same thing but it is certainly delicious!!

      1. Thai Square, corner of Glebe and Columbia Pike in Arlington.

        1. I had the same problem when I moved here. Neisha Thai in Tysons Corner/McLean has a wonderful shrimp mussumun curry. The menu description is "shrimps cooked in tasty mussamun curry, potatoes, onions, roasted peanuts and coconut milk".

          1. In Burke, there's a new Thai place that's become our favorite Thai restaurant and they have a very good masaman curry. It's called Panisa Thai, off 123 and Burke Center Parkway. They were written up in the Washington Post magazine a few weeks ago which is how I found it. But, reading your description, their masaman curry might not fit the bill. No butternut squash.

            3 Replies
              1. re: chowser

                And as luck would have it... I live in Burke! Thanks so much!

                I'm trying Panisa Thai this week and Bangkok 54 next week.

                1. re: Trixie Too

                  I just had the Massamun curry at B54 and I'm not sure its worth leaving Burke for. The taste of the dish is very similar to that of Beef Rendang, the slow-cooked Malaysian dish. Its essentially a pot roast style beef with potatoes swimming in thick curry gravy that has odd hints of clove/cinnamon. Its an ok dish but is certainly nothing to swoon over and wouldnt order it again.

              2. I'd trust B54 or Thai Square in Arlington (others in Herndon/Reston). However, you should try (and report back) the curried squid at Nam Viet. It's Vietnamese of course, but a take on a similar dish but what they do that no one else does is add some squash to the recipe to give it a great savory base with a touch of sweet underlying even that. I'd love to hear your take on all the recs.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Dennis S

                  Speaking of Vietnamese, there's a popular southern VN curry dish usually spelled out as "CARI" or something like it. It's very similar to masaman, a light curry flavor served as a soupy coconut milk base with potatoes and/or yam and/or yucca and medium to largish chunks of stewed beef. Rarely it's served over rice, but usually and most normally with a small baguette which you dip into the "cari" sauce. I'm pretty sure that Eden Center restos Huong Viet and Hai Duong both have it and it's certainly worth a try.

                2. Trixie,
                  You are apt to be disappointed by local Masaman curries because this dish is traditionally NOT made with squash, carrots, green peppers or red peppers. In
                  fact, the only solids in it are usually the potato and meat chunks. What you were
                  served in Boston was likely an invention of that cook.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: ThaiNut

                    This is how I've had it, too, w/out all the other things. That's how Panisa Thai makes it, with the basics. In fact, I've never had it w/ the squash and all anywhere.

                    1. re: ThaiNut

                      Well, that might explain it. Obviously it's a New England thing. Too bad, though. It's a fabulous dish as prepared up North. It truly is in every Thai restaurant in the Boston area, not just one place.

                      1. re: Trixie Too

                        This is a curious thing about Thai food, and more so than for any other national cuisine I know of. Thai restaurants here in the US often modify basic Thai dishes, or just plain make up their own. For example, I'd say that I can get a true Thai-style pad thai in only about 1/4-1/3 of stateside Thai restaurants. All the others have modified the recipe by adding a thick sauce, way too much sugar or, worst of all, ketchup, which you would never get in Thailand. So stateside eaters who have not been fortunate enough to have lived in Thailand and gotten the REAL thing get used to the stateside versions. The real bummer for them is when they finally get to Thailand and they wonder why the food they order there is not what they are used to.

                        1. re: ThaiNut

                          I first had pad thai in Boston about 20 years ago. It was more like a lo mein with fish sauce and that's what I expected so when I went to California. I was surprised at how light it was compared to what I was used to having. While I like the food at Panisa Thai (all curry based dishes have been excellent), I think the pad thai is a weaker point, with the pad thai being a little too sweet.

                          1. re: chowser

                            That's a very common failing of stateside Thai restaurants, too much sugar. I have no idea why they do it like that here as they don't do that in Thailand. Maybe it's a conspiracy to rot our teeth out, or turn us all into diabetics. A new Thai restaurant opened near us not long ago so my (Thai) wife and I went and had four dishes and every one of them came out too sweet. We always make it a point to send a note, in Thai, into the kitchen asking for the 'real' stuff but often even that does not work.

                        2. re: Trixie Too

                          I actually think Bangkok 54s is good. Maybe not as interesting as some of their other offerings, but really tender and hearty and peanuty. No complaints here. Definitely have never heard of it including butternut squash though. Just beef or lamb.

                        3. re: ThaiNut

                          The easiest way to experience a good masaman curry is to make it yourself. It's ridiculously simple to make. Get yourself to an Asian market and buy a couple small cans of Maesri Masaman curry (about $1.25 each), a couple cans of coconut milk, a few potatoes, some carrots, maybe some onions, and a big hunk of good beef. Brown the beef, sautee the onions, add the curry and then the rest and let the pot simmer for an hour or so. Serve with a baguette for dipping into the sauce (the Thai way of course is to serve over rice).