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In search of truly authentic Thai restaurant....

Hi there, My partner and I will be visiting the area soon, used to live in Arlington and Annandale, also lived in Bangkok years back. I'm interested in finding seriously authentic and hot Thai food while we're in town. We will be staying in Arlington and will not have a car -- and will probably be inclined to stay in VA or DC rather than MD since we don't know MD well. I see reference in earlier threads to places in Germantown and Bethesda -- hoping for similar in VA? Recommendations would be appreciated!!!

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  1. Here is a recent thread where this is discussed. It references yet another thread with authentic Thai recommendations in VA.

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6989...

    1. It's a real problem getting seriously spicy Thai food in this area. Even the best ones are unpredictable.

      My favorite is Ruan Thai in Wheaton, MD. In Arlington, Virginia, Thai Square, though I am careful as to what I order. The tile fish and catfish appetizers, the pork knuckle stew, and from the Thai language menu the sour curry and the duck noodle soup (this is not a spicy dish). Ask for the Thai language menu - even if you can't read it. The server can guide you. This will let them know at least you are serious.

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

      Thai Square
      3217 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204

      5 Replies
      1. re: Steve

        My new favorite is Bangkok Kitchen in Frederick on Rt. 40. I don't know how authentic it is, but it's very good.

        1. re: flavrmeistr

          The OP doesn't want to go to MD, and you skip right past Wheaton and Germantown to send them to Frederick.

          :-)

          1. re: DanielK

            I skip right past Wheaton and Germantown all the time to go to Frederick. What's the big deal?

            1. re: flavrmeistr

              Because the OP's requirement is VA/DC and Metro accessible and they have no car.

              1. re: DanielK

                That's a shame.

      2. Is there a specific dish you're looking for? I go to certain places for certain dishes :) But the go-to place for me now is Thai Thai. They're great overall, especially noodle dishes and they're happy to please so you can actually put out a request for something you want to eat that's not on the menu. If they have ingredients and can make it, they will. Unfortunately, the northeastern cook has left so don't order northeastern-style dishes. It's still on the menu, but not as good anymore.

        Another noteworthy is SakulThai (I prefer Rad Nah and boat noodle soup here) -- they have less variety than Thai Thai though.

        -----
        Sakulthai
        408 S Van Dorn St, Alexandria, VA 22304

        Thai Thai Restaurant
        5123 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22207

        3 Replies
        1. re: brooke

          What specifically would you recommend at Thai Thai? Are there any non-noodle dishes worth trying?

          -----
          Thai Thai Restaurant
          5123 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22207

          1. re: sweth

            I like;
            - Yum Pla Dook Foo (deep-fried fluffy fish meat tossed with herbs and spicy sweet and sour dress (although here they serve the dressing on the side as a sauce))
            - Hoy Jor (mixture of crab, pork, water chestnut wrapped in tofu skin, steamed, cut into medallions, then deep fried and serve with plum sauce)
            - Stir-fry Chinese Broccoli (simple stir-fry vegetable, but done really well. you have a choice of stir-fry CB only, with salted fish, or with crispy pork). I like my stir-fry vegetable cooked, but not limpy and a bit of that smoky, high-heat-wok flavor :)
            - Northeastern-style sausage (this is the version without rice, still tasty)

            There are other dishes I haven't yet tried, but supposedly good in the Thai menu. Various rice soups (kao tom) and yum dishes come to mind.

            1. re: brooke

              i'll give them another try. we had given up on them years ago....

        2. Thanks so much for the leads you've all offered. I think it was on the link posted in the first reply by woodleyparkhound where I read about Thai X-ing, and I think we'll try that for its overall experience, but it's heartening to read that there are other solid possibilities as well. Thai Square and Thai Thai sound especially viable for us given our travel constraints -- thanks esp. to Steve and Brooke!

          Brooke, you asked about a certain dish, and the one that comes to mind would open up to a lunch excursion possibility (since it's not typically served at dinner): kanom jeen. To find a place that makes this well would be heaven.

          -----
          Thai Square
          3217 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204

          Thai Thai Restaurant
          5123 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22207

          13 Replies
          1. re: UnaRondine

            I don't think you will find "kanom jeen" on any menu here, at least not listed as such. You might try looking for "Thai spaghetti." But exotic ingredients like blood chunks will not be served many places.

            There is a big songkran festival in maryland every year. I am not aware of any restaurant in the area that will prepare the same kind of searingly hot food you can get at the festival, even if you ask nicely. Nava Thai in Wheaton, MD used to, but I have not been back since a shake up in the kitchen. Reports are that it is no longer the same.

            A small group of us went to Thai Thai and did not have a successful meal: despite expressing our interest in eating both authentic and/or spicy food, we wound up ordering a rather lame meal with the guidance of the woman there. We tried only a small portion of the menu, but whatever help we got went for nothing. places with a separate Thai language menu, like Thai Square in Arlington or Thai by Thai (I have not been) in Sterling closer to Dulles Airport will be a better bet. If you want kanom jeen, you may have to inquire in advance and have them make something off menu.

            Have you ever had a satisfactory (or any) version in the US?

            -----
            Thai Square
            3217 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204

            1. re: Steve

              I have not, in fact had real kanom jeen in the States -- I experimented in asking for it though it was not on the menu, at a Thai restaurant in Grants Pass, OR, of all places, but I did so because we struck up a nice rapport with the owner at the beginning of our visit. They tried! It was tasty, but....improvised!

              1. re: UnaRondine

                UnaRondine, if you aren't against instant/package food, you can easily have kanom jeen at home :) I often do!

              2. re: Steve

                Apparently (according to alkapal) I'm an inveterate Sakulthai promoter, but they really do a good job of doing things Thai-spicy, and they do use blood at least in their floating market soup. Their menu is a little limited (even the Thai-language one), but it would be worth asking there about kanom jeen (although I agree that you're unlikely to find it anywhere here).

                As noted, if you can wait till April, there's also Songkran at Wat Thai DC; I don't remember any kanom jeen there last year, but I don't know any fans of authentic Thai food who haven't waddled away from there stuffed and happy, so it's worth a visit regardless.

                -----
                Sakulthai
                408 S Van Dorn St, Alexandria, VA 22304

                1. re: Steve

                  Steve, I'm sorry you didn't have good experience at Thai Thai. Many of my American friends express the same sentiment for some places :( Unfortunately, sometimes you either have to be a frequent customers or go with a Thai person to get authentic flavoring.

                  -----
                  Thai Thai Restaurant
                  5123 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22207

                  1. re: Steve

                    Steve, you're so RIGHT about the shake up in the Nava Thai kitchen! I went there twice and had amazingly delicious meals. The third and fourth visits were very disappointing. I found out that the owner taught his son-in-law the kitchen ropes, but apparently the SIL doesn't have the same magical touch. Later on, the owners taught other employees the recipes, but the employees refuse to cook the way the original chefs taught them!! How blasphemous of these employees!! If you decide to try it out, do what my parents did last time they went there: call the restaurant and ask if Ladavan (the wife/co-owner) is cooking. Make sure she is THERE when you get there. My parents brought home leftovers and I had to try really hard to control myself to not inhale it all. Ladavan's cooking is delicious.

                    -----
                    Nava Thai Restaurant
                    11315 Fern St, Silver Spring, MD 20902

                  2. re: UnaRondine

                    If you have time, you might also want to venture out to Ruan Thai. I know you said you'd rather not go to MD, but Ruan Thai is very Metro-accessible. It's a 5-10 min. walk from the Wheaton Metro Station. Your door-to-door Metro time from VA (including a change at Metro Center) would probably be an hour each way, but I think you would find it worthwhile.

                    At Thai X-ing, don't miss the red curry salmon!

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

                    1. re: woodleyparkhound

                      Thai Arroy www.thaiarroy.com in Federal Hill, Baltimore. Authentic and delicious....worth the trip to the Inner Harbor.

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                      Thai Arroy
                      1019 Light St, Baltimore, MD 21230

                      1. re: woodleyparkhound

                        Thai X-ing has a unique setup now. I have not been since the change. It is a set meal. Must reserve probably a week in advance. I'm not sure if anyone fully understands how it works, so it's best to call. IIUC, you choose how many courses you want during the week. Weekends it is decided for you. You will probably get an answering machine and they will call you back. I would try to make them promise to serve the salmon!

                        1. re: Steve

                          Two votes for the salmon at Thai X-ing, I'm impressed! Thanks again, everyone. I will offer comments/impressions after the meal if I think there is something useful to note.

                          1. re: UnaRondine

                            Please offer comments regardless of whether there is anything useful to note! :-)

                            1. re: woodleyparkhound

                              Will do, then. Thank you for being welcoming!

                      2. re: UnaRondine

                        I don't think I've seen Kanom Jeen listed on the menu anywhere. BUT, I saw the ready-made for to-go Kanom Jeen at Duangrat market. It doesn't hurt to give them a call to find out whether they will have it available during your trip or if you can place an order for a pick-up. For that matter, I would think you can call Thai Thai and ask them too if they could arrange that if you make appointment in advance :) Good luck!

                        Duangrat Oriental Food Mart‎
                        5888 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, Virginia‎
                        (703) 578-0622‎

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                        Thai Thai Restaurant
                        5123 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22207