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Apr 2, 2010 02:01 PM

Authentic Thai food in Metro area


We will be heading back to DC for a couple days next week and need your help to find authentic Thai food in the DC area. We left DC 10 tears ago and remembered the great Thai food there which we can't find in the Northwest.

Our mouth watered at the thought of the hot, spicy and sour taste of Yum Talay and the like.


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  1. Someone asked this not too long ago, here's the thread:

    The search feature on Chowhound is really good at answering questions like this.

    1. Ruan Thai (Wheaton / Silver Spring) is my favorite. Get the crispy watercress appetizer and the boneless dusk. Probably a good idea to reinforce the idea you want things spicy.

      Ruan Thai Restaurant
      11407 Amherst Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20902

      1. And while I agree that the link provided is good and search will provide a treasure trove, if you have specifics or want specifics (location, etc.) post that.

        1. The other comments here are right, recent threads have the info you're looking for..

          That said, everyone seems to think that they're thai food experts..

          Including me! -- On the Virginia side, I think Crystal Thai in Falls Church is pretty dope -- not a neon lights type place, table linen and intricate dark woodwork everywhere, generally all Thai/asian clientele, food is great. Thai Cafe beside Springfield Mall is also well done but its more of a neon light-type place.

          Listen to anything Steve says, the dude knows what's up.

          Crystal Thai Restaurant
          4819 1st St N, Arlington, VA 22203

          10 Replies
          1. re: Russel Shank

            Definetly go to Thai Cafe in Springfield! You will NOT be disappointed!!!

              1. re: Ethnicchowhead

                I don't get to Thai Cafe nearly often enough, but it's on par w/ Thai Square and Sakulthai in terms of quality. I haven't yet been able to figure out if they have a secret Thai menu, so the offerings are a little slimmer than at the other two places, but everything is good, and they seem open to ordering "off menu", and do it well--they're one of the only places in the area where I can order a khao pad krapow gap kai dao mai sook (basil fried rice with a runny-yolk fried egg on top) and get it the way I remember from Bangkok.

                Thai Square
                3217 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204

                408 S Van Dorn St, Alexandria, VA 22304

                Thai Cafe
                6701 Loisdale Rd, Springfield, VA 22150

                1. re: Steve

                  The food at Thai Cafe speaks for itself. You can tell by the taste of the various dishes that someone actually cooked in the kitchen, rather than simply reheating. When you first walk in, you pass the kitchen and you can see a bunch of women cooking, chopping and stirring. Its a family owned restaurant and it does not look like much from the outside, but inside, in the back, is a nice size dining area. A lot of my friends who have had Thai food and did not enjoy it, have turned the leaf after I brought them here. I LOVE Tum Yum Gai soup and always get it when eating Thai, but no ones compares to Thai Cafe. Thai Cafe is by far my favorite restaurant.

                  1. re: mymomisthebestcook

                    It's nice to have a general description, but I was looking for more specific menu recommendations. I'm prepared to go out of my way, but I need more to go on.

                    1. re: Steve

                      I haven't eaten there in a while, but they definitely know what they're doing. It's family run also.

                      I don't know if the word "authentic" fits, but everything is done very well. For instance, their pad thai is of the orange/sweet American style (unlike, Tara Thai's I suppose.) However, they execute it with skill.. the measuring bar for pad thai being, that you can taste each ingredient on every noodle.

                      It's a place my family goes, but I haven't tried much of the menu. The soups are great. Last time, I had their Mee Krob/Grob and it was really good -- caveat, it was my first time having the dish so I have nothing to compare it to.

                      It's right beside the Firestone stand-alone building near the entrance with Bennigans (entrance 2?) They're located in the tiny strip of one-story stores with blue trim. It's all right off of the 95 Springfield Mall exit. Easy for hitting if you're heading south, or passing along that lower part of the Beltway.

                      They're nice folks. If you are dying for a certain dish not on the menu, I bet they'd accommodate.

                      1. re: Steve

                        Definetly get the Tum Yum Gai soup, the balance of the flavor is so perfect! Recommedations:

                        Pad Thai
                        Drunken Noodles
                        Fried Rice
                        Gai Rama
                        Tofu w/mixed Veggies in a chili sauce
                        Gyoza (ask for the specials menu)
                        spring rolls

                        Honestly, I, and the people Ive take there, have NEVER had a bad meal there. And Ive taken a lot people there bc Im always lookin for an excuse to eat Thai. :)

                        1. re: Steve

                          I tried Thai Cafe a year ago w/ a friend who'd heard good things about it. It was unremarkable. She had the tum yum gai and a curry dish (can't remember what) and I had duck curry. I didn't think it was bad but she apologized for making the recommendation. Until I read this thread, I wasn't planning to return (it's not that convenient) but decided to give it a try today after reading this thread. My husband had the tum yum gai--good flavor but it was like they'd counted one shrimp, one piece of calamari, one scallop for the dish with a lot of broth leftover. It was mildly spicy. I ordered their special southern style curry (three peppers) and my husband had catfish (two peppers). It's probably the nature of whoever cooked it but they used whole cut peppers in it and left them in and they blended in with the beans. You might like the extreme heat, since I know you're a big fan of szechuan food but it was overwhelming to us, and we like heat. The catfish was far hotter than the southern style curry. The southern style curry had good flavor on the first bite but the heat also overwhelmed the flavor. We like spicy food but I like to be able to taste the flavors, not just the spice. We ordered pad thai to go, again unremarkable, and again, it seemed they count each shrimp and we ended up with two.

                          As Thai places go, I like the new (newish at this point) Panisa Thai in Burke. I do think the flavors are a little more americanized than Thai Cafe, more on the sweet side. The lunch specials (chicken basil and chicken masaman) are very good but I particularly like the duck curry on the dinner menu. My husband likes the catfish here much better than Thai Cafe but first bite at Thai Cafe, he ended up eating a big piece of hot pepper. I did not care for the duck in noodle soup, the duck soft and fatty in the soup. The pad thai is pretty standard but better than Thai Cafe. Their dumpling appetizer and fried shrimp in phyllo (can't remember what they called it) are also good.

                          Overall, I wouldn't go far out of my way to either place but would choose Panisa Thai over Thai Cafe. I'd travel up to 10 minutes to go to Panisa but not to Thai Cafe, if ratings can be given by time distances. Next on my list is Thai Basil but that's over half an hour. The stand out with Panisa Thai is that there are few good places to eat in that area.

                  2. re: Russel Shank

                    Is Crystal Thai still there? I thought someone told me they closed.

                    Crystal Thai Restaurant
                    4819 1st St N, Arlington, VA 22203

                    1. re: flavrmeistr

                      Still open, I just got carry out there last night.

                  3. Unfortunately, it's only once a year, but I can't recommend highly enough the Thai food at the Songkran Thai New Year festival, which was today. Wow. Whatever you want, you can find it there. There must be at least 30 food vendors selling all manner of everything. Next year, I want to get there early and bring lots of cash.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: woodleyparkhound

                      We got there at 0845 this morning and grazed until about 1100 when it started to get really hot and busy. Absolutely amazing food and the only time it really wasn't dumbed down for gringoes. A great place. Thanks to this board for turning me on to it.