Monday, November 5, 2012

On Sala Thai and flat rice noodles

Sala Thai is a small Thai restaurant chain with locations in Maryland and the District. My boyfriend and I recently visited their U Street location, at 1301 U Street NW, for dinner. The restaurant was rather dead on a weeknight but they were doing an impressive carry-out business. In general, we were satisfied with our rather predictable meal. I do realize that I'm a tad jaded when I describe Sala Thai's offerings as "standard." However there are so many great Thai restaurants to choose from these days that it is hard not to compare and contrast.   
Close-up of Kee Mao J with flat rice noodles
Not to boast too much about DC's excellent Thai restaurants--but they have the freshest, most choice flat rice noodles that I've ever encountered. (I think the noodles may be supplied by China Boy in Chinatown. You can also buy them at Asian grocery stores in the area, including Baltimore's Potung Trading Company.) These local flat rice noodles are thicker and broader than regular wide rice noodles. They truly melt in your mouth. DC's edgy Italian restaurant, Graffiato, boasts a ham bar. Blech! I'd much rather encounter a flat rice noodle bar.
Sala Thai's menu offers these perfect flat rice noodles and other Thai food staples. The restaurant also has an extensive vegetarian menu with soups and apps, as well as entrées. On our visit, we ordered two starters. The veggie Tom Yum Hed soup (on left) had a tangy broth and lots of ginger. The Garden Roll (on right) was average with too much lettuce. I ordered the Kee Mao J, aka Drunken Noodles, which is my go-to dish. Sala Thai's spicy version had lovely charred noodles. My boyfriend got another noodle dish, the Pad See Ew J (not photographed). He thought his dish was oily with too much cabbage. Still, it had the rock star noodles.  

Sala Thai also has a large sushi menu that we didn't explore this trip. It seems like every Asian restaurant is turning into a "& sushi" spot these days. It must be popular with the DC business lunch crowd.

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