Cheap Eats 2012: Ruan Thai

Cheap Eats 2012

Among the many great Thai dishes we were fortunate to try in putting together this survey, the one we find ourselves thinking about most is an appetizer called, appropriately, Yum Watercress—a crisp, lacy pancake of watercress, minced shrimp and squid, slivered red onion, and toasted cashews, which you break up and dip into a spicy, lime-spiked fish sauce. Like much of the cooking at this trusty spot, it manages to taste comforting even as it challenges the palate. There are Thai places that deliver more pizzazz or novelty, but none achieves such consistency year in and year out. And none feels quite so satisfying.

Also good: Crab-and-pork-stuffed chicken wings; mussels in black-bean sauce; crispy duck with basil; mooh phing, skewers of grilled pork with sticky rice; crispy whole fish with red curry.

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.