100 Very Best Restaurants 2015: No. 49 Ruan Thai

Ruan Thai puts out a terrific rendition of fried duck with chilies and basil. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Everybody’s got a favorite neighborhood Thai joint. So what exactly makes this one worth singling out? For one thing, the quality of frying. (We could just as easily have chosen to delve into the wonderful sense of balance in chef Krisana Suchotinunt’s cooking, but let’s start there, with frying.)

The Yum Watercress salad, a glorious tangle of fried shrimp, squid, and onions—in addition to the titular ingredient—is the kind of dish you have to try to believe. How could something that touched oil be this light, crunchy, and, well—not oily? Lots of places do a crispy duck, but how many of those give off such an irresistible perfume of basil? The most expensive item is also a jusitifiable showstopper—a whole fried fish served with red curry. Whether you’re on a date or with a group, this is the dish to construct a meal around.

Don’t miss:

  • Sliced duck with chili paste and lime
  • Larb (minced chicken with cilantro, onion, and roasted rice powder)
  • Pork Panang curry
  • Glazed pork skewers

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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 Logan Circle.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.