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Komi chef Johnny Monis has made a career of defying convention, so it’s no surprise that his second act isn’t a Komi spinoff or a tapas lounge. But who’d have guessed it would be this northern-Thai joint–a stools-only operation in an English basement one door down from his renowned restaurant?

Monis and his co-owner wife, Anne, fell in love with the flavors of this part of Thailand, where they were married last year, and the chef and his crew have set about reproducing them with devotion and detail for a seven-course prix fixe meal. It isn’t a tasting menu–it’s family-style dining, with dishes piling up as you dig into the basket of herbs and greens with which to scoop up the salads and swaddle the charred meats.

Many chefs would be tempted to “reinterpret” these flavors for a Western audience. Monis resists. The result may be esoteric to some, but there’s no denying the excitement of these plates–by turns fiery, sour, tangy, sweet, funky, and smoky.

What to get: The menu changes almost weekly, but standouts have included pork rinds served with duck-liver dip; sausage flavored with lemongrass and kaffir-lime leaves; a salad of fried, shredded catfish tossed with shallots and chilies; “charred, hammered beef”–a mound of grilled meat that tastes like a sort of Thai barbecue, especially when you match it with chili sauce.

Open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner. Expensive.

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.