Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Thai X-Ing

Authentic family-style thai food, cooked by a Thai guy, served in his rowhouse, with no corkage fee?  Sign me up!!!

The signing up process at Thai X-Ing (Thai Crossing) is what took us so long to check it out.  You have to call in advance, leave a message on their voicemail with your preferred date and party size, and wait for them to call you back.  I called two weeks before our preferred Friday night date and received a return call about 5 days later (right about when I was sure they were never going to call me).  I don't think you need to call that far in advance but if you know a date you want to go, it can't hurt.  Note that the price ranges from $30 to $40 per person depending on the day of the week, and that Tuesday and Sunday are vegetarian nights (with some vegan dishes on Sunday).

I worried that Thai X-Ing would be hard to find.  However, as we walked down Florida Avenue, we smelled delicious Thai food before we ever saw the sign.  We followed our noses into the basement door and saw a few tables of people in Thai food bliss and a busy Chef Taw Vigsittaboot in the kitchen.  A waitress asked us to go outside and head up the stairs to the main level to be seated.  The main level had maybe a half dozen tables of varying sizes and a mish mash of chairs, couches and ottomans to sit on.  If you've ever wondered what it'd be like to eat in someone's living room that they randomly turned into a restaurant, this is your place. 

Once seated, our waitress immediately brought us water and glasses for the bottle of wine we had placed on the table.

Before leaving our house, I grabbed the bottle of wine and a wine opener because I wasn't sure if they had wine openers at Thai X-Ing since they don't charge a corkage fee.  B laughed at me so hard that I sheepishly tucked the wine opener in the glove compartment of the car and took the wine into the restaurant.

A smug smile crept over my face as I realized there was no wine opener in sight at Thai-Xing.  B, looking nervous that he was going to have to admit that I was right, flagged down our waitress who returned with a wine opener.  So, you don't need to bring a wine opener with you.  Lesson learned.

After we poured the wine and settled in, the following parade of dishes hit the table in quick succession:
  • Cucumber soup (unexpectedly amazingly delicious)
  • Papaya salad (light but packed a mean - in a good way - flavor punch)
  • Lime chicken (SPICY! but awesome)
  • Salmon and pumpkin curry (B loved the salmon, I loved the pumpkin.  Perfect.)
  • Chicken stir fry (complex flavors made this much more exciting than a normal stir fry)
  • Pad see ew with tofu  (I was in noodle heaven)
  • Mango sticky rice (A strong finish to a fantastic meal).

We managed to polish off all of these dishes and a bottle of wine in about 45 minutes flat.  It wasn't that Thai X-Ing wasn't conducive to lingering over our meal, we just liked the food so much we couldn't slow down!  I also loved that you don't have to order from a menu.  This caused us to try dishes we may not have ever ordered (cucumber soup definitely) and gave us a broad taste of the Chef's talents.  What are you waiting for?  Call Thai X-Ing immediately and make your reservation.

Second Thoughts from B

There's nothing like a home cooked meal. When you ask what someone would eat for their last meal, don't they usually say something that they grew up with at home?  When you watch famous chefs discuss the merits of some remarkable dish, don't they usually equate it to a childhood memory?  The home cooked meal is comforting, familiar, and always delicious. Except when it isn't your home.  The not-your-home, home cooked meal is exciting and novel. And in the case of Thai X-Ing, it is still delicious.

Several years ago (wow, we've been doing this a long time!) we told you about our friend from Afghanistan whose mother is a wizard in the kitchen.  We've come to refer to her as Mama Loynab and have enjoyed learning about her homeland through our taste buds.  Receiving an invite to a dinner in her home makes you run around the room in pure joy a la Charlie Bucket when he finds the last golden ticket.

I couldn't help but feel like Thai X-Ing was the Thai equivalent to a night in Mama Loynab's house.  We showed up with nothing but our appetites, were welcomed into the home, and were transported to another world. As best I could tell, this wasn't food that was influenced by Thai flavors and modified to appeal to the American palate. I'm no expert, but this seemed to be the real thing... and it was really good.

You can travel around the world looking for authentic cuisine and still find yourself stuck in restaurants that cater to Americans.  J and I spend much of our travel prep time working to find that home cooked meal abroad but have often encountered nothing more than the dreaded tourist menu. That Washingtonians have the real deal tucked away in a brightly colored rowhouse next to Howard University, is just another reason to love DC.
Thai X-Ing on Urbanspoon

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