This review of Thai X-ing is a good companion to my review of Little Serow. It is also the first (and so far only) BYOB I’ve been to in the District.
I had heard rave reviews about the Salmon Pumpkin Curry, so when I called 2 weeks in advance to secure a reservation I meant to ask if it was still on the menu. I left a voicemail and followed up a few times before I got a call back a few days in advance. I confirmed the curry was available and showed up to our Saturday reservation with empty stomachs and cold wine.
At first I thought we were lost, but the converted home in the middle of a residential street really does house this sought after restaurant. The interior and exterior were decorated like a well-loved Asian Mother-in-Law’s home. At first it was distracting, but it really served to transport us. I felt like I was zipped to the other side of the world, especially since most dishes were served on bright green leaves and the sunlight was pouring in through a large window. The staff shouting to each other over their walkie talkies–ahem–added to the “atmosphere.”
The menu changes seasonally so it will always be a bit different. The price and menu type also change depending on what day of the week you choose. We started with a sausage-stuffed cucumber soup, a spicy and sour chicken larb, a refreshing green papaya salad, and rice.
We were then served 3 courses in quick succession – pork in green curry, fried string beans and chicken pad see ew.
All of the flavors were very well balanced and complementary. They had a brightness, freshness, and complexity that I find lacking in my local casual Thai restaurants. They were also easier to eat and enjoy than the extreme-ness that I experienced at Little Serow.
Our meal ended with a simple but satisfying mango sticky rice. We hadn’t finished the salmon curry and the chef was nice enough to pack up our leftovers and even gave me some extra curry sauce when I proclaimed how delicious it was.
For $45 a person, this is a unique experience that you can’t have anywhere else in DC and I highly recommend you visit there soon. It’s more fun and exotic than many of the drab downtown pre-theatre menus with the same price!
Our menu when we went (March 2012) $45:
- nam prik makheua: eggplant / crispy pork skin / shrimp paste
- ma hor: sour fruit / dried shrimp / palm sugar
- koy pa: cobia / lemongrass / chilies
- laap meuang: pork / shallots / sawtooth
- nam tok tow hu: tofu / mint / rice powder
- khao soi: chicken / fresh turmeric / fermented cabbage
- si krong muu: pork ribs / Mekhong whiskey / dill
The line starts at about 4:45 or 5 for their 530 opening on Saturdays. I got there once a little late and was quoted a 10:15 seating time! I’ve heard it’s much easier to get seatings during the week, especially the earlier ones since a lot of people are still working.
The decor is sparse with limited lighting and bright green splashed on nearly all surface and a loud country soundtrack playing. The Modcloth-clad staff was very friendly and explained all the components of the dishes and Little Serow as a whole.
I was a little underwhelmed by the entire experience. The quality of the dishes are good, though at times a bit unbalanced, but none of the dishes were memorable enough for me to want to go back. I’m glad I went to see what the hype was about and had a delicious meal comprised of food and dishes that I’ve never had. I wish there were cocktails too—though the hibiscus tea and salted pineapple soda were refreshing (even though the hibiscus tea was too sour for me), a nice cocktail would’ve sealed the deal. After glimpsing menus from other weeks, I was hoping for some interesting ingredients and combinations, but all of our dishes had either pork or shrimp in them. No duck, which is my favorite protein!
I had the same type of experience at Komi — slowly started getting full after a few courses, then all of a sudden it seems the courses get bigger and bigger! Thankfully, just like at Komi, we were able to take leftovers (and the cucumber and thai basil made excellent pimms cups no. 13 later that night), but I just wish the meal was a tad more balanced in size and flavor. I also asked if we could take pictures since I had an awkward (& painful) experience earlier at Komi.
I have a horrible memory, so like to take pictures so I can look back and remember experiences (I’m not one of those that uses the flash or lets the food get cold while I set-up the shot; it’s purely documentation). I’m not intrusive to others at the table, let alone others in the restaurant.