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NoVa Thai

Any recommendations for Thai restaurants in NoVa?

Thanks

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  1. Where are you?

    The obligatory response is Bangkok 54 and Thai Square in Arlington - on Columbia Pike btwn Glebe and Walter Reed. But the real answers change throughout the different parts of the counties.

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    Bangkok 54
    2927 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA

    Thai Square
    3217 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204

    9 Replies
      1. re: Dennis S

        I'm in the culinary wasteland of McLean.

        1. re: Arabella09

          Well, to be positive, you're halfway between great and good. East for the Col Pike recs and West for those in the Herndon/Reston/Sterling area.

          For West, Three Thai Sushi, Thai By Thai are both solid. Possibly whatever used to be Tarin Thai now run by the Thai Luang folks. Just not sure myself on that rec - at this moment.

          1. re: Arabella09

            Though I haven't been in ages, I used to like Thai Pilin on Route 7.

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            Thai Pilin Restaurant
            8385 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA 22182

            1. re: Arabella09

              It seems like I never see anyone recommend Busara, with locations in McLean (across from Tyson's II) and Reston, but we really like it. We also like Thai Pilin, but I give the edge to Busara these days. Tara Thai is also on Route 7 on the other side of Pimmit Hills.

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              Busara Restaurant
              8142 Watson St, Mc Lean, VA 22102

              Thai Pilin Restaurant
              8385 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA 22182

              1. re: perries

                I have eaten in both Busara and Thai Pilin and they are both examples of rather good American Thai restaurants. They just aren't really all that Thai, or all that great, but they are decent cafes. And comparing a decent cafe in McLean to one in Arlington in difficult. McLean doesn't have a lot of good restaurants, and Arlington does. Falls Church falls in the middle, they have some decent places, but no really good ones.
                As much as I love Thai Square when they are at their best, the best Thai food in Virginia, and maybe in the DC area, is at Bangkok 54.

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                Thai Square
                3217 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204

                Busara Restaurant
                8142 Watson St, Mc Lean, VA 22102

                Thai Pilin Restaurant
                8385 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA 22182

                Bangkok 54 Restaurant and Bar
                2919 S Columbus St, Arlington, VA 22206

                1. re: Ziv

                  Busara always seemed a buck or two too expensive per dish for me.

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                  Busara Restaurant
                  8142 Watson St, Mc Lean, VA 22102

              2. re: Arabella09

                Arabella - try Pasa Thai in McLean, next door to EVO Bistro. I have been consistently pleased with the quality and variety of their offerings. As always, tell 'em to spice it up if you prefer. Having eaten in Bangkok many times and many of the NoVa joints, I return to Pasa Thai often.

                The comments about Tara Thai, Pilin and Busara being examples of American Thai comports with my view. They serve a purpose, nothing special, but convenient. The best Tara Thai, in my experience, has been the one in Vienna. Don't know why but that location is steps above the others. Sawatdee in Arlington went downhill fast. House of Siam and Thai Square, further afield, can be very good if you happen to be puttering around in their area (not worth a special trip).

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                Thai Square
                3217 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204

                House of Siam
                7056 Spring Garden Dr, Springfield, VA 22150

                Sawatdee
                2250 Clarendon Blvd Ste H, Arlington, VA 22201

                Busara Restaurant
                8142 Watson St, Mc Lean, VA 22102

                Pilin Restaurant
                116 W Broad St, Falls Church, VA 22046

              3. re: Dennis S

                Thai Peppers in Alexandria is a bright and friendly low-key restaurant and my go-to for my pad Thai, ginger beef, and fried rice fixes. Their tofu is great steamed or fried (fav) and they've got very tasty soups and small plates. Don't know how authentic an experience it is, but I dig it. Certainly the best I've had. Has anyone tried it to compare?

                BTW - Myanmar is a very happy discovery.

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                Thai Peppers Restaurant
                2018 Mount Vernon Ave, Alexandria, VA 22301

              4. Thai Cafe in Springfield! My place to go! =)

                1. Elephant Walk in Falls Church has been getting a lot of attention lately too. Might not be too far for you. Though I never know with traffic what is convenient to McLean

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: ktmoomau

                    Thanks for all the great suggestions. Busara is the closest, so we'll try it first. Seems to get good reviews.

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                    Busara Restaurant
                    8142 Watson St, Mc Lean, VA 22102

                    1. re: Arabella09

                      I hate to rain on a parade, but Busara is generally panned here, and I agree. It's worth your while to head to Arlington for some Thai Square. I'm going to try out Thai Tada tomorrow, which is in Herndon. Not much for show, but the crew was the long standing best outside of Arlington.

                      In fact - I'd rather steer you in different directions entirely if you're set on location. Not terribly far is Myanmar, which is outstanding Burmese. Influenced by Thai and Indian but distinct unto itself.

                      I'm open to hearing more about what to order at Busara. I finally went there b/c we were at RTC for a show we needed some food. Got the larb and some other app which are usually fail safes, and while they weren't bad, they were about as bland as I've had.

                      Check out this other thread for Myanmar notes:
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/726085

                      And lastly - scan for PollyG and thai. She's really got a good taste for thai and has never steered wrong on that front.

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                      Thai Square
                      3217 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204

                      Busara Restaurant
                      8142 Watson St, Mc Lean, VA 22102

                      1. re: Dennis S

                        Thanks very much for the advice. Myanmar sounds more promising.

                        1. re: Dennis S

                          I went by Thai Tada today - we did takeout b/c of small kids and a friend coming over (though I know many Asian restaurants are among the best to take kids to, and this group would definitely be there).

                          Anyway - I like what they did with the place. It was overly gaudy. Now it's almost tasteful. Who I consider "the main guy" - who used to be at the bar at Luang, is keeping similar helm here.

                          The staff were great to my girls, who were along with me to pick up the food.

                          The food:
                          - Fish cakes and satay were good, but not out of this world (I'm not a big fan of fish cakes anyway - my pregnant wife wanted them so go figure).

                          Larb gai - slightly small portion but very very good.

                          Veggie kee mao (drunken noodles). Also very good. I give this a slight pass in that it may be better when eaten there, not take out that sits for about 30-40 minutes until eaten.

                          Broccoli and Chicken - as may be suspected somewhat plain. My wife wanted something non-spicy which outside of pregnancy she doesn't do very often. It said oyster sauce and I expected the sauce to be thicker - it was fairly watery.

                          Ginger Beef - good solid dish - was what our friend ordered and I only got a small sample.

                          All in all a good place to have in the area. I think they can and will improve over time.

                      2. re: ktmoomau

                        Thanks. I believe it is Elephant Jumps.

                      3. anyone been to bangkok siam near ravi kabob since it just reopened under new management?

                        they used to have a rocking spicy duck salad.

                        and ziv, bangkok 54 still doesn't do kee mao as well as thai square, in my humble kee mao-crazed opinion. ;-). http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/558386
                        about three weeks ago i did a compare and contrast of two dishes (seafood salad and pad kee mao) at bangkok 54 and thai square. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6630...

                        here is an older thread. some places -- at least paya thai -- are gone. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/526311

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: alkapal

                          Alkapal, you will get no arguement from me about Thai Square not being able to serve an outstanding series of dishes, when the chef is on his game, the place is the best Thai I have had this side of the Kingdom.
                          But I just got back from BKK54's grocery store yesterday. I grabbed a Squid with Basil from the hot lamp area and a little can of Phat Phrik Khing curry paste, some long beans and some mushrooms. Ate the squid with basil in a park, it was so delicious I had to up-end the plastic serving container to get the last drops. I got also got a rather old-fashioned look from a girl walking a dog no bigger than my fist but that is another story... Anyway I got home later, fried up some diced chicken in fish sauce and pepper sauce, added the onion, long bean, red pepper, cilantro and mint, stirred in the Phat Phrik Khing paste with a bit of water, tossed everything over a heap of fragrant jasmine rice.... Bliss. Even BKK54's grocery store rocks. I am not sure that BKK54's chef's are as good as the chef at Thai Square, but they do put a pretty good meal out there in a nice atmosphere.

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                          Thai Square
                          3217 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204

                          1. re: Ziv

                            yes, it is a nice atmosphere, and as i said, the squid was the very freshest and properly cooked i've had in a very, very long time.

                            i perused their grocery there at b54, and it is really nice. there is a great variety of fresh, canned and bottled foods, sauces, condiments, etc. i had a look at the prepared foods next door, too. it seemed the prices weren't too very far off the resto prices --, e.g., for the som tum. Maybe 1/3 cheaper. But shredded green papaya isn't cheap even at eden center's market.

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                            now i wanna know more about that "old-fashioned look" from the paris hilton wannabe! http://www.bloggingpet.com/images/cr_...

                            ~~~~~~
                            ps, ziv, you like to cook, so check out my little kabob success: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7272...

                            1. re: alkapal

                              I read your Shan success story earlier, that sounds like one I will try soon. I have been shopping at the Indian shop around 4900 Lee Hwy, next to the new Minerva. I think they will have it, and it definitely sounds like a spice box I would like. Minerva seems to be willing to serve westerners a spicy dish, so many other ethnic places dumb it down to the point that the dish is unrecognizable. I spent a month on Ko Samui back in the early 90's and there was an old woman that served freshly beaten som tom and barbecued chicken thighs on the beach outside my bungalow. I had her work up to around 5 or 6 mouse shit peppers in my som tom after a couple weeks, just right with the perfect amount of forehead sweat without the heat covering the flavor up. I asked her how many peppers she put in her own som tom and she grabbed a handful, must have been more than 20. I can't even imagine how hot some thai dishes are, and I like it hot!

                              1. re: Ziv

                                ha ha about the som tum! i am an addict! i even slurp up the dressing. 20 chillies? dang; i wouldn't be alive.

                                mr. alka is liking minerva's biryani when i'm out of town -- or when i don't feel like cooking *or* going out. i think the A-1 indian grocery next door does have shan. i know they also have some sri lankan bottled chutneys and the like.

                                ps, and don't think i'm nuts, but i just bought the harris teeter prepared meals on a buy one get one special, and both the korma and chicken tikka masala were pretty decent. (yep, i was surprised, too. the CTM just needed some salt and a little chopped cilantro, and tasted better than that dish in many indian restos i've visited...).

                          2. re: alkapal

                            I went to Bangkok Siam right after the ownership changed. It used to be one of our favorites, but went severely downhill even before the change of ownership. The owners fired the cook and took over the cooking themselves. That reduced the place to an ordinary Thai place.

                            Then the new owners were even worse. One awful meal there, with almost no spice and little flavor. What really stuck in my mind though was that they charged us a dollar more for our beers than the price on the menu. When I brought this to their attention, they refused to charge the price on the menu (which was $4 if I recall correctly), saying that their own menu was "wrong." It was only a couple of dollars, but it was so jarring that I've never been back.

                            1. re: Mississippi Snopes

                              oh crap! what is with them? do they *totally* want to kill their business? this makes me think of that thai place over on lee highway, near george mason. terrible!

                          3. I like Thai Cafe (Springfield), Thai Nakorn (Rt. 1, Alexandria), House of Siam ((Backlick), & Thai Herbs (Rt. 1), probably in that order-I've had wonderful dishes at all of them...

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                            House of Siam
                            7056 Spring Garden Dr, Springfield, VA 22150