At Burapa Thai's two locations in Arlington and Leesburg, the dishes on the menu tantalize with a fragrant cocktail of spices. The aromas of marinated beef mingle with those of honey, Thai herbs, and garlic, and crispy duck crackles sharply beneath sauce and basil leaves. Waiters pass through the dining room toting plates that highlight seafood and shrimp as well as lard na, a type of wide rice noodle. With steam from curries melding coconut, shrimp, and eggplant, chefs behind Burapa's sushi bar roll up eel and salmon held together by seaweed like Robinson Crusoe’s flat-screen TV. Amid the Arlington location’s booths, abstract tile work, and rich wood paneling, guests admire fresh-cut flowers.
Many of the dishes listed on the menu at Thai Square are rarely tasted in the U.S.––even at American Thai restaurants. The chefs pride themselves in crafting faithfully authentic dishes, only altering recipes to accommodate timid palates upon request. As co-owner Soon Rojurai explained to reporters from Arlington Magazine, "We cook the way Thais like to eat. We say, let the American customer adjust to our food." That commitment to tradition has earned Thai Square a loyal following among American and Thai diners alike, and has also earned high praise from local media publications such as [The Washington Post](http://gr.pn/16JdlhS) and Washingtonian. Deep in the restaurant's kitchen, the chefs fold fresh ingredients and flavorful herbs into soups, noodles, and rice dishes. They simmer up red and green curries with beef and chicken, sauté crispy roasted duck in basil and chili, and stir pots of pig-knuckle stew with cinnamon and ginger, adding in sprigs of crunchy lettuce. Diners await these authentic dishes while sipping on bottled beers imported from Thailand, which can help tame the spiciness of the cuisine or inspire a spirited chorus of "99 bottles of Singha on the wall".
"Seek Happiness" proclaims one of the pieces of colorful artwork on Thai At Corner's walls––and for some, happiness may come in the form of 60 asian wings. Served with celery and blue cheese or ranch dressing, the spicy wings are a main attraction, but far from the only one. Cinnamon duck, broiled in the traditional Thai style and served with a spicy lemon sauce, goes toe-to-toe with shrimp stir fried in garlic sauce for the title of Most Likely to be President. Beef marinates overnight before being stir-fried, topped with ginger, and fried bananas a la mode prove an appetizing conclusion to meals.
After strolling past clusters of Chinese eateries and shops, it might be a bit surprising to find an authentic Thai restaurant in the heart of Chinatown. The aroma wafting out of Kanlaya Thai Cuisine’s kitchen is unmistakably one of Thai cooking—a tangy mixture of basil, chili, black bean spice, and kaffir lime leaves. The fragrance only grows stronger and more enticing upon entering the bright, clean dining room and taking a seat at one of the glossy wood tabletops. Attentive servers bustle across the hardwood floors of the elegant space, taking orders, making suggestions, and noting diners’ spice preferences. Bartenders dart about behind a tiny corner bar, doling out imported beers and garnishing fruity cocktails with umbrellas and fresh fruit.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, chefs are hard at work, folding natural ingredients into a sweeping array of aromatic traditional dishes. Using time-honored Thai cooking techniques, the chefs whip up fiery coconut curries, tangy fried rice, and noodle dishes with meat, seafood, and tofu. To craft their specialty pottery shrimp—a favorite of food critic Robert Shoffner of the Washingtonian—the chefs simmer shrimp, cellophane noodles, napa cabbage, and mushrooms in exotic spices. The chefs take great care in the presentation of their dishes, decorating meats with swirls of carrot flowers, serving rice in bowls made of pineapple halves, and dishing pad thai noodles onto plates made of Renaissance oil paintings.
Located within walking distance of the DuPont Circle metro station, Bangkok Thai Dining artfully balances the five fundamental flavors of Thai cuisine daily. Inside the restaurant, candlelit tables and exposed-stone walls create a heady atmosphere for dinner dates or romantically tense geological surveys. Vegetarian options are available for all main meals, which include traditional stir-fries, noodles, and curries. Afterward, desserts can cool palates with tastes of fried ice cream or thai coconut custard.
Little Serow doesn’t take reservations or special requests. They won't seat a partial party, seat more than four people at a table, or open the doors before 5:30. But despite all that, hungry patrons still line up for the change to sample the family-style meals prepared by chef and owner Johnny Monis. The menu of Northern and Northeastern Thai dishes changes weekly, but can include authentically Thai creations such as muu nam tok (pig ears and rice powder), het grapao (mushrooms and egg), and gai laap chiang mai (chicken liver and long peppers). Many dishes have been known to pack a punch, but, luckily, an in-house beer and wine director that has taken great pains to ensure drinks pair well with the spicy cuisine and that all of the cocktail napkins are flame retardant.