Americanized versions of Thai cooking tend to be sweeter, with fewer sharp edges. If there’s heat, it feels tacked on, not integrated, and without the spreading warmth of the real thing. To eat at this tiny spot in the back of an Asian grocery is to see Thai food in its natural habitat—spikier, hotter, funkier. Look past the pad Thai; you’re here to focus on loving renditions of street food, such as the scorching papaya salad and esoterica like chicken ma muang himmapan, a stir-fry of chicken and cashews that’s a powerhouse of heat and crunch.
Where you can find it: 11315 Fern St., Wheaton; 301-942-0288
Also good: Chicken-and-potato curry purses; basil fried rice with shrimp; grilled-pork skewers.