Editors' pick

Sakoontra

Asian, Thai
$$$$ ($14 and under)
Sakoontra photo
Kathryn Norwood/For The Post
'

Editorial Review

2004 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, October 17, 2004

A life-size Thai taxiin the foyer and walls splashed in blues and purples might pull you into one of Sakoontra's many seats, but it's the vivid cooking that will keep you transfixed. Hot-and-sour lemon grass soup lives up to its description, and its many vegetables taste bright and fresh. Saucer-size shrimp cakes are nicely springy, their red curry seasoning balanced by a sweet sauce of cucumbers and crushed peanuts. Slices of grilled beef, pink and crisp-edged, get tossed with red onions, herbs and brassy lime dressing for a steak salad to remember. As the food shows up, always fast and graciously, the table takes on the appearance of a mouthwatering photo spread. There might be a pretty yellow mound of fried rice, veined with cashews, raisins, pineapple and diced ham, each spoonful redolent of curry. Or pearly stir-fried shrimp, shimmering in their coats of honey and balanced with pepper and garlic. The person responsible for all this enticing food? Vilai Chivavibul. Most chefs of note in Thailand are women, and Sakoontra honors this tradition.