A two-story, 1930s Wallingford house with a pillared front porch and white clapboard siding isn’t the typical setting for pad thai and green curry, but Djan’s Modern Thai Restaurant doesn’t have an interest in being ordinary. Inspired by the eclectic, global tastes of co-owners and brothers Tum and Lek, the restaurant prides itself on fusing East and West in both its menu and decor. Input from chefs in Bangkok and New York City helped create the menu, which tempts diners to sink chopsticks into contemporary versions of classic Thai dishes, such as wok-fried ginger beef or fried rice with pineapple and tofu. Foundational Thai ingredients—coconut milk, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, and basil leaves—still appear on plates, but they share the stage with Hawaiian-style prawns and Japanese shrimp tempura. Instead of washing down mouthfuls by drinking from a date's seltzer-filled boutonniere, diners can sip the vintages from Washington, California, and Chile that grace a hefty wine list.
Djan's decor reflects its cuisine’s multicultural influences with modern, geometric tables and backlit alcoves that give a nod to the past with lanterns and suspended silver bells. For those who would rather eat in the comfort of their own homes or need to feed a party, the restaurant also offers delivery and catering.
Much like Thailand itself, Thaiku's menu comes loaded with traditional and authentic Thai delicacies; unlike Thailand, it contains few elephants. Kick-start your tummy's tuk-tuk with an appetizer such as giow tawt ($6.50)—crab and cream cheese wrapped in won ton and served with plum sauce—or the por sia sod ($6.50), a fresh salad and Chinese sausage roll wrapped in rice paper and topped with house hoisin sauce. Along with classic noodle dishes like pahd see iew ($8.50), adventurous diners can feel like they're eating from a genuine Bangkok street stall minus the backpack-shaped sweat stain on their back with an order of North Thailand's staple kao soy (fresh egg noodles in yellow curry and coconut broth, $8.95), guay tiow bed (a soup of rice noodles, sliced duck, rich anise, cinnamon, and sweet soy broth, $7.95), or the gai yaang ($12.95), a marinated chicken paired with sticky rice and a sweet green papaya salad.
Although Ayutthaya Thai Restaurant & Bar first opened its doors to Capitol Hill in 1985, its roots stretch back much further than that. The Zagat-rated eatery takes its name from the ancient capital of Thailand, and the menu finds similar inspiration in traditional Thai culture. The chefs rely on decades’ old recipes as they make five different kinds of curry in-house, and create dishes of pad thai wrapped in egg that embrace a culinary tradition that has become increasingly rare. To round out the menu, the chefs also wok-fry fragrant combinations of garlic, basil, lime leaves, ginger, and pineapple, forging entrees like the bathing rama, which the Seattle Times hailed as “a bit of peanut-sauce heaven.”
The cooks at Wedgewood II Vegetarian Thai don't just leave meat out of dishes. They find inventive new ways to make vegetables the focus of classic Thai dishes that are full of flavor, without relying on unnatural enhancements like fish sauce, MSG, or magic beans. Instead, they make iconic dishes such as pad thai with tofu, or craft their signature Rama Delight with stir-fried spinach, carrots, garlic, and a savory peanut sauce. They also sweeten their curries and fried rice with chunks of fresh pineapple––a mere precursor to sweet desserts such as mango sticky rice pudding or a deep-fried banana.