Thai Restaurant Week Kicks Off

April showers don’t usually call for celebration—unless you take part in the Songkran Water Festival, Thailand’s New Year’s festivities held every April.

This year, area restaurants are celebrating Songkran by holding the first-ever Thai Restaurant Week from Sunday, April 13, through Saturday, April 19. Spearheaded by the Thai Embassy, 20 local Thai restaurants will offer special menus, discounts, holiday activities, and samplings of Thai fruit.

The embassy is having around 200 crates of fruit such as mangos, mangosteens, rambutans, and longans shipped from Thailand and will dole them out to participating restaurants. While supplies last, the restaurants will serve them as free samples and incorporate them into dishes and desserts.

On the Georgetown waterfront, Bangkok Joe’s (3000 K St., NW) will offer a special menu inspired by the year of the golden rat, believed to bring opportunity and good prospects. The special menu includes meang-kum, collard-green wraps filled with shrimp, peanuts, ginger, and coconut; yum gai yang, grilled lemongrass chicken with pepper-lime dressing; Thai New Year spaghetti, tossed with lobster,  Thai anchovies, and roasted tomatoes; Crying Tiger, a beef dish so spicy that it may inspire a howl like a tiger’s; prawns in red curry; and mangosteen, lychee, and young-coconut sorbets. Diners are invited to take part in the spirit-renewing practice of sprinkling water over a ceremonial Buddha.

Bangkok Garden (4906 St. Elmo Ave., Bethesda) won’t have a special menu, but it will offer a 10-percent discount on sit-down dinners. The restaurant will also hold a free raffle for a $50 gift certificate to the restaurant. Both the Old Town and Dupont Circle locations of Mai Thai (6 King St., Alexandria; 1200 19th St., NW) plan to hold raffles for $50 gift certificates, too.

A few restaurants are creating dishes around fruit. Bangkok 54 (2919 Columbia Pike., Arlington) will use Thai fruit as a theme in its special menu, which includes chicken-mango curry; salmon with mangosteen salad; and Crying Tiger Beef with a tropical-fruit salad. Born (144 Maple Ave., Vienna) adds dishes such as Tom Yum fried rice with longan and crispy duck with lychee and red curry. Guests can wash down the curry with cool glasses of rambutan green tea and lemongrass-longan iced tea. Duangrat’s (5878 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church) will incorporate fruit into every dish on its New Year’s menu: There will be lychee nuts stuffed with pork, peanuts, and cabbage; red-curry roast duck with lychee and mixed-Thai-fruit salad with chili-lime dressing; and pan-fried cod with green-mango salad. Lychee ice cream and longan-tapioca pudding finish off the meal. You might also catch traditional Thai music and dance performances.

For the full list of participating restaurants more information, click here.

For more dining and area restaurant news, click here