Lunch Break: The Healthiest and Worst Bowls to Order at Tom Yum District

The new fast-casual Thai eatery in Rosslyn offers customizable meals bowls.

Photograph by Melissa Romero.

Thai food is almost always a crowd pleaser, even among the most nutritious bunch. Local registered dietitian Kait Fortunato says, “I think this food can be very healthy, as it is a nice balance of carbs, protein, fat, and vegetables.”

The catch, however, is often the dishes’ high sodium content. But with some smart planning, it’s easy to eat a well-rounded lunch, especially at the new Tom Yum District in Rosslyn.

The fast-casual Thai eatery lets customers make their own bowls, starting with a base and adding proteins, vegetables, and sauces of their choosing. We asked Fortunato to take a look at the menu (which does not include nutritional facts) and point out the healthiest—and unhealthiest—bowls to order.

Worst: White rice with steak and drunken sauce
You can add all the vegetable toppings you want, but it won’t help this bowl much, health-wise. White rice has a high glycemic index, which spikes blood sugar levels quickly. Steak is not as lean as other proteins, and contains high amounts of cholesterol. The drunken sauce is likely high in salt, since it contains oyster sauce.

Better: Asian mixed salad with shrimp and Tom Yum sauce
The mixed salad as a base adds extra vegetables to your meal, although Fortunato notes, “Without the complex carbs it may cause you to be hungrier again soon.” Shrimp is a nice lean protein, but is higher in cholesterol than other menu options. The Tom Yum sauce is house-made (and a favorite among customers) and therefore likely not as high in sodium content.

Best: Brown rice with chicken or tofu and Panang curry sauce
Thanks to its high fiber content, a brown rice base is likely to keep you full longer and support healthy blood sugar levels. Chicken or tofu are both lean sources of protein, while the curry peanut sauce provides healthy fats with the bonus of strong flavoring to your meal.

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