Great New Restaurants 2010: Sabai Sabai Simply Thai

25 places that are making the Washington dining scene better than ever

Late last year, while the dining world was chirping about trendy gastropubs and food trucks, former Benjarong owners Fred and CiCi Hart quietly opened this strip-mall oasis. Its meditative interior—nature-inspired colors, a rock wall, and gallery-worthy photographs of Thai street life—fits the restaurant’s name (sabai sabai means “relax relax”). But it doesn’t apply to the kitchen’s bold flavors, which aren’t muddled with MSG and come out sharp, spicy, and intense. The three-part menu (classics, street food, and vegetarian) is long, and its many strengths rank the place among Washington’s top Thai restaurants.

Don’t miss: Larb, a spicy mix of ground chicken, lime juice, and peppers; chive dumplings; fried corn cakes with a cucumber condiment; peppercorn shrimp; pork skewers with a sweet/spicy dipping sauce. 

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.