Saturday, August 23, 2014

Thai X-ing

Thai X-ing (pronounced 'thai crossing') is a small and very delicious restaurant where chef/owner Taw Vigsittaboot serves traditional home-style Thai recipes passed down from his mother, aunt and grandmother in an eclectic and intimate setting. Offering a chef's choice prix fixed dinner menu only from 5:30 - 10:00 PM, you must make a reservation either online or by phone.  Sunday is vegetarian night. This style of dining allows Chef Taw more freedom in the kitchen and the family-style serving is great for groups.  Closest Metro is Shaw - Howard University.

Image via Thai X-ing website
We made reservations a couple weeks in advance, and even arrived early to the row house just in case.  Nevertheless, there was a line outside and we had to wait a few minutes for a table to clear before being seated downstairs at the tiniest half-table squeezed along the wall.  The interior was kitschily decorated with Thai posters and trinkets.  Upstairs was packed full and the third floor seemed reserved for larger groups celebrating birthdays.  If you want to drink alcohol (or anything else besides water for that matter), you must bring your own. The good news is there is no corkage fee, and one bottle of wine is allowed per person.  Almost every table we saw had a couple bottles on it.  We had a heads up, so we brought our own bottle of white wine to drink as well.

For $40 per person, we were served 8 courses of home-style Thai cooking including dessert.  The food came out super fast with no explanation.  Luckily, we're familiar with Thai cuisine and there were no real surprises as to what we were eating.  First up, we started with Chef Taw's interpretation of Green Papaya Salad that included shredded unripe papaya, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, chili, peanuts, and lime juice.  It was less spicy than other renditions, but the cherry tomatoes and peanuts provided a nice crunchy twist that I really enjoyed.

We also started with a fresh Tom Yum Soup with Shrimp. This classic soup included mushrooms, cilantro,celery, ginger, coconut milk, and lemongrass.  The shrimp must have been just dropped in the bowl before covering with the hot liquid, because they were almost par-cooked causing a super tender and sweet shrimp.  We overheard a table behind us who had guests who did not eat shellfish, thus they were given a version made with tofu.

Quickly after our first course plates were cleared away, the next round of dishes arrived.  Keith was happy to see some meat, and enjoyed the Beef Salad all to himself.  This cold salad included slices of cooked marinated beef tossed with lots of green onion and spices.

I devoured the two curry dishes we received - the house specialty, Pumpkin Red Curry, and a slightly more spicy Salmon Curry.  The pumpkin was super tender and soft and just soaked up the creamy curry sauce so well.  Keith is not the biggest fan of pumpkin, but he ate his whole piece happily.  The salmon was incredibly meaty and tender, as well, that it almost melted in my mouth.  Both dishes were not too spicy and very satisfying.  I could have easily eaten another round, but knew we had more dishes to come so had to save room.

To break from the heat, we also ate a Ginger & Soy Sauce Chicken.  Chunks of chicken thigh meat were marinated in a sweet ginger soy sauce and tossed with fresh mushrooms, Thai basil,  and cilantro.  This is a great simple meal over a bed of rice, and reminded me of a dish my mom used to make for me as a child.

Next, a noodle dish arrived - Pad See Ew with Tofu that included tofu, bean sprouts, peppers, chili, lime, and lots of peanuts.  I was not crazy about this dish as much as the others, though Keith found it to be just as tasty.  I much prefer the skinnier noodles of Pad Thai, than these fatter and softer noodles in Pad See Ew.  It's just a texture thing for me.

Finally for dessert, we were presented with Coconut Sticky Rice with fresh sliced mango and berries.  This dessert was the perfect size after that big meal, and had the right amount of sweetness.  Keith had never had coconut sticky rice before and really liked it.  The mango was ripe and sweet, and overall this was a nice close to our meal.

We ate all of this food in under an hour.  Service was lightning fast, to the point where I kind of felt rushed.  There were still parties waiting to be seated, so I understood them wanting to overturn tables quickly.  The cramped and dark interior, coupled with the chatter of the tables, plus the heat and intoxicating aromas emanating from the back kitchen, transported us to Thailand.  The food was very delicious and had a definite "grandma's cooking" style to it.  The prix fixed menu is in the same vein as Little Serow, yet we were more wowed by Serow's food.  However, Thai X-ing gets extra points for accepting reservations and allowing BYOB.

Total Rating: 4.15
Food: 4.5, Price: 4, Service: 3, Ambience: 3.5, Accessibility: 4.5

What I ate:
Green Papaya Salad

Tom Yum Soup with Shrimp

Pumpkin Red Curry

Salmon Curry

Ginger Soy Sauce Chicken

Pad See Ew with Tofu 

Coconut Sticky Rice
with mango

Plus Keith ate:
Beef Salad

Thai X-Ing on Urbanspoon

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