Details

Thai X-ing

515 Florida Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20001

202.332.4322

Neighborhood: U Street/Shaw

Cuisines: Thai

Nearby Metro Stops: Shaw-Howard University

Price Range: Inexpensive

Dress: Informal

Noise Level: Intimate

Reservations: Not Needed

Website: http://www.inshaw.com/blog/Thai%20X-ing.htm

Best Dishes:
Salmon in red curry; spring rolls; larb gai (ground chicken and onions in lime juice); pork ribs in green curry; pad Thai; Pad King Tofu.

Thai X-ing

March 2006 Best Bites: Hidden Eats

Lofty Curries From a Basement Kitchen

Some of the city's best Thai cooking isn't being done in a restaurant. It's coming from the English basement of a townhouse around the corner from Howard University Hospital--a takeout operation with a cult following called Thai X-ing.

Owner Taw Vigsittaboot has the work ethic of a short-order cook, but his cooking is as attuned to details as his mixed-media sculptures, on view in the tiny sitting room lined with art books and Buddhist texts. His larb gai is sharper and hotter than most renditions of this tangy ground-chicken dish. Spring rolls are rolled as tightly as Cohibas, producing a crunch even after they've been sitting in the takeout bag.

Curries are his specialty. A salmon in red curry proves the benefits of slow-cooking sauce and protein together, a method that high-volume Thai kitchens dispense with. The oils from the fish enrich the fiery coconut-milk broth while the broth infuses the poaching fish.

Prices won't try your budget, but the waits--expect to sit a half hour or more, even after calling ahead--may try your patience. As the sitting room's copy of The Dhamapadda urges, one must learn to perceive the world with tranquil serenity.