The traditional spices of Thailand weave throughout the dishes at Charmthai Restaurant. Grassy, rich basil shows up in the savory roasted duck curry and the basil-fried rice, while chili paste adds a kick to the curries and the slurpable drunken noodles. The slightly sour flavors of lemon accent fish dishes, such as the steamed tilapia in a sauce of blended chili, garlic, and lemon. Those spices even permeate the dessert menu, with custard made with a hint of coconut and fried bananas paired with green-tea ice cream.
An exotic eatery in the busy downtown DC area, Mai Thai features carved-wood panels up front and along the side walls, showcasing cultural Thai landscapes. The dark rosewood tables and deeply shaded flooring tiles add a touch of exotic Asia to the otherwise fast-paced dining room. The extensive menu of authentic Thai dishes beckons all who look for a regionally-specific culinary adventure. In addition to the regular fare, house specials include some contemporary spins on classics, such as the chilied Seafood Paradise dish that pairs jumbo shrimp and scallops with a topping of shredded crab meat. The lounge and bar areas offer guests a pleasant happy hour setting.
A golden tree sprouts from a square of orange and yellow panels, greeting guests at Bangkok Bistro at Ballston with a canopy of heart-shaped leaves. This piece of art overlooks a dining room full of warm touches: rich red walls, glowing lanterns, and entrees spiced with hints of chili, curry, and garlic. In the kitchen, chefs put a sweet, modern spin on traditional Thai dishes, swathing fried coconut shrimp in mango sauce and loading cashew fried rice into pineapple shells. Dishes are available as single orders or as platters that can serve up to five diners or one hydra-headed police chief. Most meals can be prepared with a choice of three heat levels: stimulating kick, tingling sensation, or raging fire.
Though united by their name and a penchant for serving spicy Southeast Asian cuisine, each Sala Thai restaurant blazes its own culinary trail. Some dishes, such as the kee mao?flat rice noodles saut?ed in hot chilis?sate diners' hungers at all locations, and other bites, such as M Street's red-curry pork with pineapple, can only be found in one place. To appease a variety of tastes, some locations also serve fresh, neatly rolled sushi. The Petworth, Bethesda, and U Street restaurants also calm customers' cravings for saxophone melodies and dark sunglasses worn indoors with live jazz performances on Fridays and Saturdays.
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.
Caf? Asia's menu reads like a jetsetter's dream itinerary. Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Japan, and Vietnam. These seven East Asian countries may be the starting point for the eclectic lineup of spring rolls, ramen, fried rice, panggang, and noodle bowls, but it's Caf? Asia's chefs who take it to new places. The Vietnamese grilled pork demands special attention; chefs marinate the meat overnight with lime, garlic, fish sauce, and pepper. Caf? Asia could easily stand on its own as a sushi bar, however. Contemporary twists on traditional rolls have led to creations such as the eight-piece cajun roll with crawfish tail, sriracha, spicy mayo, and diced jalape?o, which is the world's spiciest fish.
The food's diversity has won many fans. In an article published on January 3, 2011, Examiner.com rightly noted that the restaurant has "enough choices to please almost any palate." The Washington Post also noted that the restaurant has hosted such distinguished guests as Dr. Jill Biden. Two full-service bars and a lounge allow Caf? Asia to host a slate of special events each year, including its New Year's Eve party.