When Thailand native Penelope Chungsakoon and her husband, Bangkok native Tom Chungsakoon, opened Thai Yum Restaurant in 2010, the Baltimore Sun declared it the city's "best Thai restaurant." It's a testament to the ardent work ethic of Penelope and Tom, who flavor each beautifully plated dish with spices hand-ground in their open kitchen.
Besides staples such as massamun curry, the duo crafts Thai specialties such as duck breasts coated in curry-roasted peanut sauce and frog legs saut?ed in garlic and chili paste. Feasts unfold inside a dining room of shiny hardwood flooring and white brick walls decorated with traditional artwork depicting animals such as dragons and elephants.
If you haven't heard of Stang of Siam's Baltimore's Crab Fried Rice, it's time to get acquainted. Fried rice might seem like a surprisingly simple standout. But the Baltimore Sun proclaims the dish a perfectly executed "must-have" that is so elegantly plated, it "earns its place on a Saturday night table."
Stang of Siam has quickly built its reputation for serving dishes that taste as good as they look, which is no surprise coming from owner Chuchart "Bobby" Kampirapang, a DC-area chef also responsible for Dupont Circle's acclaimed The Regent. Duck gra prao is one of the more popular signature dishes, sweetening boneless, crispy duck with basil and chili-garlic sauce. That same sauce reappears in the restaurant's take on classic drunken noodles, but is refreshingly absent from its custard and sticky rice desserts.
An unfortunate fire forced husband-and-wife team Brad and Pui Wales to find a new location for their popular My Thai restaurant. But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the conflagration led to the newly reopened eatery at the Holland Tack Factory, which is near the Little Italy and Harbor East area. The eatery now boasts a spacious interior full of large communal tables, a 40-foot bar, private rooms for groups, and an Open Street Food kitchen, where guests watch chefs prepare "Drunken Noodles," pad thai, curries, soups, and a multitude of seafood and fish specialities. For the adventurous, specialities at the Open Street Food kitchen include fried silkworms, beef tongue, and pork brains. The newly resurrected dining destination also serves spicy eggplant in chili garlic sauce or pork in creamy red Panang curry, as well as Thai foods such as crispy green beans. Tropical cocktails complement the experience—exotic lychee juice laced with peach vodka, or sour apple liquor mixed with absinthe—along with Thai beers and local favorite, Natty Boh.
Red Parrot Asian Bistro puts a fresh take on Thai, sushi, and other pan-Asian specialties. The chefs pack the huge menu with specialty sushi such as the royal mountain roll, complete with steamed lobster, asparagus, and seared white tuna. Freshly cooked dishes also abound, including Thai noodles and Korean short rib, which guests can pair with cocktails or bubble tea.
Colorful, pan-Asian dishes piled high with generous portions emerge hot out of the wok from the kitchen at Chopstixx Cafe. Sifting through the pages of the vast menu, diners will find familiar classics composed of super-fresh ingredients, including spicy General Tso's chicken and pad thai, as well as specialty dishes such as the steamed "Revolution Diet," which features tender shrimp and an array of healthy veggies. The kitchen also whips up crave-worthy bubble teas in fancy flavors such as lychee, passionfruit, and red bean.
The dining room at San Sushi Too & Thai One On defies all geographical logic. Turn one way, you're in Thailand; turn another, and you face Japan. On the Japanese side, "the service is rapid and polite and the sushi is fresh," according to the Baltimore Sun. Fourteen seats line the sushi bar, where the chefs prepare 18 creative house sushi specials. For the selection, just look to the chalkboard menus?or ask the chef to make an off-menu favorite, since they happily take requests.
Meanwhile in the kitchen, chefs pan-fry Japanese noodles and channel the flavors of Thailand into drunken noodles or panang goong: shrimp saut?ed with curry paste, coconut milk, and fresh basil. Baltimore City Paper praised the thom kha kai as "tangy and rich at the same time, a study in contrasts" in a 2002 roundup of the city's best soups. On the weekends, the restaurant also hosts live music and dancing once the dining room closes and the chefs fly back to their respective countries to sleep.