Friday, January 9, 2015

Soi 38

Inspired by the underground eateries around Bangkok’s night markets, Soi 38 features creative Thai street foods, hearty Thai favorites and a bar program featuring draft and bottled cocktails to DC’s West End neighborhood.  Closest Metro is Foggy Bottom.

The name Soi 38 is based on the iconic street food district and night market of the same name in Bangkok. The menu is collection of favorite street food dishes collaborated upon by owners Nat Ongsangkoon & Dia Khanthongthip and chef Mitchai Pankham, a native of Phayao in Northern Thailand, who is skilled in working with curries and whole animal cookery. According to their website, "Dishes are both rustic and creative, presenting innovative takes on widely popular Thai street fare. Complimenting the menu is a creative beverage program which pairs bold, refreshing ingredients and features bottled cocktails, refreshing housemade sodas, handcrafted libations and cocktails on draft."

Keith and I went to Soi 38 for an early dinner before catching a show at the Kennedy Center.  The interior design is pretty contemporary, with a friendly and accommodating staff.

There are a range of dishes to satisfy the heat craving in the form of soups, curries, and noodles, each with spice level indications of zero to three chilis.  As an appetizer, we chose a level three (hot!) marked Pla Muk Yanggrilled squid legs with a dipping sauce of fresh chili and lime juice.  The squid itself was perfectly cooked and had a nice grilled flavor.  The heat definitely came from the sauce.

We also ordered another addictive spicy dish - Larb Gai.  This plate of minced chicken, rice powder, scallions, fresh mint, and red peppers only had level two spice indicator (medium), but was way more spicy than the squid dish.  We liked the crunch of the cabbage slices to counter the chicken, but would have liked more.  Despite the intense heat, we finished this plate clean.

For a main course, we shared the level two spiced Kanom Jeen steamed noodles and chicken thigh meat in a spicy green curry broth, with bamboo shoots, eggplant, Thai basil, and chili peppers.  The green curry had a nice subtle smokiness and was a nice relief from the previous super spicy dishes.  The chicken was tender and the eggplant still had a nice bite to give texture.

A dish that I really wanted to get was the Panang Goong - a dozen grilled shrimp, panang curry, fresh chili, kaffir lime leaves, and onion.  This dish was also level two spicy, but the red curry had sweet notes so it did not hit the tongue in the same areas.  The shrimp was cooked perfectly and also had a lovely grilled flavor.  I loved this dish and scooped extra sauce over my jasmine rice.

Overall, we had a great pre-theater meal at Soi 38. All the dishes featured fresh ingredients, with generous portions - perfect for sharing.  The spice level was bold, and were great dishes for a cold January night. They had many creative cocktails that looked fun, but more appropriate for a tropical summer night, in my opinion.  However, beer and wine are offered at Happy Hour prices of $6 each.

Total Rating: 4.18
Food: 4.5, Price: 4, Service: 3, Ambience: 3.5, Accessibility: 5
What Micky Eats...

What I ate:
Pla Muk Yang
grilled squid legs, fresh chili, lime juice

Larb Gai
minced chicken, rice powder, scallions, fresh mint, red peppers

Kanom Jeen
steamed noodles, spicy chicken green curry, bamboo shoots, eggplant, chili

Panang Goong
grilled shrimp, panang curry, fresh chili, kaffir lime leaves onion

Soi 38 on Urbanspoon

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