Wheaton has long been a hotbed of Thai cooking, with Nava Thai and Thai Taste by Kob vying for authenticity-seeking diners. Ruan is the oldest of the lot, and you don’t make it to two decades in the restaurant business on the strength of longevity alone. Krisana Suchotinunt’s cooking remains the lure—the flavors hot and bright—but just as important is the consistency of these dishes night after night. The stir-fried duck with basil is the standard by which all others in the area are measured, the meat fragrant with cinnamon and as crunchy in spots as crisped bacon. Rasika’s palak chaat is hailed in many quarters as a dish that defines the scene, but Suchotinunt’s “yum watercress” is just as memorable—imagine a lacy fritter of shrimp, squid, watercress, and cilantro, which you dip into a spicy lime sauce—and has it beat by decades.
Where you can get it: 11407 Amherst Ave., Wheaton; 301-942-0075
Also good: Crispy fish with red curry; duck with chili paste and lime; country curry; drunken noodles.