Absolute Thai in McLean
About two weeks ago, Absolute Thai opened its second branch in McLean. We've been twice since it opened and we're likely to make this a regular destination. The food does not equal with the best Thai food we've had in the DC-area, but the food is quite good. Above all, the people who staff the restaurant are charming and responsive to customer preference for heat levels.
We have enjoyed the Absoute Thai chicken wrap, Spicy Roasted Duck, Pad Thai, Drunken Noodles, Tom Yung Goong soup, and Kanom Jeep Dumplings. Lovers of extreme Thai heat will have to ask for their food to be prepared extra hot. My husband and I cannot eat true Thai-hot levels of food, but we enjoyed the heat of the two chili dishes-- definite bursts of chili heat but not so overwhelming we couldn't taste the other flavors. I liked the larb gai, but the recipe is not what I'm used to. The chef uses tamarind sauce in addition to the lime. (I think Busara sets the standard for larb gai.)
Jarringly, you'll see a pastry display cabinet filled with exquisitely crafted French pastries. These are made in-house by a Thai patry chef who is a partial owner of the restaurant. Saturday night, we ate at Absolute Thai with friends and each couple split a pastry. Not the typical ending to a Thai meal, but so delicious we didn't care about authenticity.
Sietsema's fall restaurant review was all about becoming a regular. A follow-up article included all the reasons why people become regulars at restaurants. Repeatedly, the notion of welcome came up. People were happy to eat good-but-not-transcendent food as long as they were made to feel welcome. This restaurant definitely creates that atmosphere and we wish them well.
That is excellent news! I have given up on the once pleasing Pasa Thai (prices rose in inverse relation to the portion size and quality shrinking). Our of curiousity, I perused the menu and wandered into the room several days ago. Your review prompts me to make a bee line over and dive into ka prow yum tom etc.
BTW, the menu is an interesting meld of traditional Thai, house specialities and healthier takes on Thai cuisine with, as you note, the incongruent addition of mouth watering pastries.
The posted menu is from the original DC location; the McLean menu offers a couple of additional items. I can recall only one example: the Absolute Thai chicken wrap. This dish includes grilled chicken breast slices, several large lettuce leaves, mint sprigs, cilantro sprigs, and a moderately spicy sauce. (Next time, we might add some lime and others might want to add more chili. Still, we were happy that the sweetness was not overwhelming.)
I was pleased with the Pad Thai on our first visit. I don't know how they prepare it generally, but I asked for light sweet, and that's what arrived at our table.
Starting Friday, December 2, McLean's branch of Absolute Thai will be able to serve liquor.
Last night's meal there was really delicious. Four of us shared two orders of the appetizer special that included two skewers of chicken satay, two sliced spring rolls, and two shrimp/crab/pork dumplings. The satay was remarkbly juicy; the spring rolls were defty fried with no oil; and the dumplings have a very tasty filling.
Among the four of us, we ordered Pad Thai with shrimp, Green Curry with chicken, and Ka Prow with pork. Excellent meal. Their Ka Prow version offered noticable-but-not-Thai-painful heat although one of our group doctored his portion with still more chilis from the condiment tray. The green curry expert in the group declared last night's version to be the best she has eaten with noticable heat.
Service continues to be good and welcoming.