First Look: Sabai Sabai Simply Thai

By: Kate Nerenberg

Sabai Sabai Simply Thai excels at Thai street snacks and vegetarian dishes such as chive dumplings and fried corn cakes. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

If it weren’t for the tables and chairs at Sabai Sabai Simply Thai, the place could be mistaken for a yoga studio. The serene space—awash in moss green and rust orange, decorated with a stone motif and photos of Thai street life—feels far from its location: a Germantown strip mall behind a car dealership. The restaurant—whose name means “relax relax”—comes from Fred and CiCi Hart, who until two years ago owned Benjarong in Rockville. The menu has three sections: familiar classics, Thai street fare, and vegetarian dishes. The common denominator is fresh ingredients—there’s no MSG—elevated by well-balanced sauces with unusually deep flavor.

Sweet-corn and shrimp cakes—both fried but not greasy—get the same excellent vinegary cucumber condiment, while a roasted-duck salad is treated to hits of lime juice and house-made chili paste. A house-seasoned soy sauce accompanies plump and crispy chive dumplings, while Crying Tiger—beef slices in a fiery sauce—is tempered by citrus and sugar.

If the kitchen continues to turn out the same vivid flavors it has in its opening months, Sabai Sabai is poised to become one of Washington’s best Thai restaurants.

Sabai Sabai Simply Thai, 19847-M Century Blvd., Germantown; 301-528-1400. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Starters $4.95 to $8.95, entrées $9.95 to $18.95.

This article appeared in the March 2010 issue.  

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