the coconut of my eye: Thai Square
I’ve got my eye on Thai Square in Arlington.
My friends have taken to calling me a Thai snob, which is comical, to think of myself as any kind of food snob. I grew up on Hamburger Helper and Mom’s spaghetti casserole. I have humble taste buds.
“Pad” anything didn’t touch my tongue until my senior year of college when I served tables at Blue Orchid in Lincoln, NE. It didn’t take long for me to warm up to it. The chefs used leftovers every night to make the staff dinner. Some dishes were love at first bite and others I threw away half way through, only to come to love them months later. I learned the names of dishes, the unique spices used and that hotter is better. To this day I swear by Blue Orchid as the best Thai food in the U.S.
Which brings me to the year I lived in Japan. I backpacked in Thailand for 10 days. From riding on rickshaws in Bangkok to volunteering on an elephant reserve in Chiang Mai for a day to ziplining through the jungles on Christmas Day to hiking over an island mountain to a secluded beach to eating, eating and eating more, it was a trip of a lifetime.
By that trip, I was decently versed in Thai cuisine – if not on the mechanics then definitely on my love for it. I burned my mouth at every meal, tears streaming down my face at the spice level and kept going back for more. I ate street food at every opportunity and gave myself a strict rule of only one drunken noodle (pad kee mao) dish per day. For a few days, I think I subsisted off of mango and sticky rice alone.
I try not to compare Thai I eat in the US to what I ate in Thailand – who wants to be around that person?! In fact, before I moved to D.C., I generously said Thai food seemed to be a rare cuisine that no matter where it’s prepared, is never far from traditional. On this, D.C. has made a fool of me (Thai Xing aside)! I guess I’ve voiced my discontent a time or two, leaving me with that “Thai snob” scarlet phrase hanging over me.
All of this is to say that every avid Thai food fan I’ve asked, “Where’s the best Thai in the area?” has enthusiastically responded, “Thai Corner.”
I haven’t had a chance to get out there yet, but I can’t wait. I’ve read they have both Thai and English menus and that Thai nationals frequent it. It’s also reportedly a hole in the wall. I can practically smell the coconut milk from here…
Have you been? What are your thoughts? where’s your favorite Thai restaurant in the D.C. metro area?