Monday, December 3, 2012

Rabieng Thai Restaurant

Earlier this year we wrote about Duangrat's Thai Restaurant in Bailey's Crossroads, VA and mentioned that Duangrat's has a sister restaurant around the corner named Rabieng.  Rabieng is the more casual little sister of Duangrat's serving "Thai country comfort cooking."

The restaurant is small and cozy.  On our visit a few months ago they were playing Christmas music.  Never too early to get into the spirit I guess?

We ordered a couple of appetizers to get the Thai party started.  I ordered "Tidbit" because I liked the name.  Luckily, the dish (crispy rice cakes with peanut coconut sauce) was as fun as the name.  The rice cakes provided a crackly bed for piling on the deliciously tangy peanut coconut sauce.

Even more fun was a special "street snack" item that consisted of rice noodles tossed in a sticky sweet tamarind sauce.  They described it as something close to rice krispy treats.  While I don't think it resembled the rice krispy treats of my youth, I really enjoyed this salty-sweet combo.

The waiter recommended one of the specials for B: a crispy-coated fish tossed in a sauce that was delicious and easier to remember several months ago but has since slipped from B's memory.

I ordered the special pad thai topped with softshell crab.  I was expecting the standard, safe pad thai dish but was really impressed with Rabieng's version.  The flavors were really bold and each ingredient tasted fresh and perfectly cooked.  This was definitely one of the best pad thai dishes I've had and I order pad thai like it's going out of style.

Our meal at Duangrat's left us wanting more, but the little sister Rabieng delivered a stellar performance.  Our advice?  Skip the fancier Duangrat's and go around the corner (in a sort of hard to find side alley strip mall) and go to Rabieng. 

Second Thoughts from B

Wow, it has been a long time.  Yes, a long time since we posted, but that's not what I meant.  I was thinking along the lines of: wow, it has been a long time since we ate at Rabieng. 

On one hand, you could say that time has dulled any details from my memory (true).  On the other, you could say that only the really strong impressions remain (also true).  So let's go with the glass half full version.

Looking through the filter of time, I can't remember a single thing about my entree.  In fact, if we hadn't taken a picture of it, I wouldn't have the slightest clue what I ordered.  That basically means it wasn't bad, but it didn't rock my world either.  Moving on.

I do remember lots of crispy, tangy, sweet, and very orange appetizers, and I remember them well enough to still be able to taste them in my mind, as evidenced by mouth starting to water as I type. That's a pretty good sign that we'll be back.  In fact, I'm willing to wager that the following conversation is on the horizon:

J: Where do you want to go to eat?
B: How about that crispy orange appetizer place?
J (without missing a beat): You mean Rabieng!  Let's go!

My memory of the past isn't so good but I'm pretty confident in my prediction for the future.  Maybe I'll even remember my entree next time.
Rabieng on Urbanspoon

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