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.
The Thai cuisine at Cha Ya Asian Bistro is accented by creative sushi rolls. Playful flourishes characterize the bistro’s dining room, from retro sci-fi hanging lamps to mod chairs that encircle the bar and tables along the curved wall of windows. The colors, both in the décor and sushi, compliment the culinary traditions of Thailand, which emphasizes spices in a range of brilliant reds, greens, and yellows. Patrons settle down near a sun-drenched yellow wall, sampling those flavors in curries, bowls of lemongrass seafood or chicken, and crispy duck. The sushi chefs show off their artistic inclinations in rolls packed with or broiled salmon or other maki folded into the shape of a heart like a poet’s tax returns.
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.
The showpiece of India Garden Fine Dining Restaurant can't be seen by patrons. Instead, it is tucked back in the kitchen, exactly where a traditional clay oven should be. Heated by charcoals, the oven?s belly reaches temperatures of up to 900 degrees?enough heat to seal every drop of ginger, garlic, basil, and black pepper inside lamb chops, chicken, and tiger prawns. The tandoor oven also cooks vegetarian-friendly dishes such as the Baingan Bharta?s roasted eggplant with onions, tomatoes, and a smattering of Indian spices.
Filling a need in the District for appealing pan-Asian eats, the Satay Club has obviously struck a pleasing note with a broad spectrum of locals. Slipping in at lunchtime, patrons will find tables filled with students from nearby American University, business folks out for an inexpensive bite and neighborhood pals chatting over a plate of sushi or pad Thai. For the serious eater, the menu offers such offbeat dishes as Malaysian rendang, a spicy beef stew, and gado gado, a fan-favorite Indonesian salad with lots of steamed vegetables. More familiar dishes include bowls of ramen, Chinese lo mein noodles, and roasted Peking duck. For anyone who doesn’t have time to relax inside the long red-walled and wood-heavy eatery, online ordering and quick pick-up options are available.
The ingredients stocked in the kitchen at Noodle Charm have a unique history. While half of the ingredients?such as produce and meats?are sourced from local farmers, the spices, chilis, and herbs have traveled half way across the globe. The chefs go to all this trouble because they know that the best ingredients are a key component of the best dishes. The freshly cut green veggies offset the rich flavors of the creamy peanut sauce slathered onto rice noodles, while the five Thai spices and herbs create a complex marinade for the pork shoulder that stews to a tender finish after 48 hours.
But the flavors of these fresh ingredients aren't just up to the chef. Customers can design their own dish by choosing the style of noodles, type of meat, and variety of soup stock. They can then make each dish their own without figuring out how to write their name in noodle cursive by adding in splashes of fish sauce, vinegar, bits of powdered chilis, and scoops of ground peanuts that are all conveniently stationed at each table.