Editors' pick

Thai Square

Thai
$$$$ ($14 and under)
'

Editorial Review

2014 Spring Dining Guide

2014 Spring Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
May 15, 2014

This unassuming storefront in Arlington is unlikely to get an award for its hospitality or win a prize for its design, and that’s just fine with owner Sunthorn Rojural. “We want to win customers with our food,” says the Bangkok native. I love his priorities. Even more, I treasure Thai Square’s epic menu, where even familiar dishes taste brighter, fresher, zestier than just about any competitor’s. Take the restaurant’s fish cakes, made in small batches from imported feather fish, mashed by hand with curry paste and lime zest and fried to a delicate crisp. Or duck marinated in honey, roasted, and fried to order with chilies and Thai basil, a glossy entree whose fragrant aroma precedes its arrival. Who knew that Chinese eggplant stir-fried with tofu could bring conversation to a halt? Every visit to the 18-year-old standard-bearer finds a new favorite. Right now, No. 12, nam sod, has my heart. Your lips will burn, you might break into a sweat, but chances are good, thanks to such fireworks as fresh ginger and lime juice, that you won’t leave a trace of the minced pork salad behind. Nam sod is a signature contribution of opening chef Nongyao Augustin and a salute to Northeast Thailand, where she’s from. While the senior citizen no longer cooks every day, she shows up for regular quality checks. Count me a huge fan — along with regulars Johnny Monis and his wife, the owners of that other Thai treasure, Little Serow, in the city.

2007 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, Oct. 14, 2007

No matter where I travel on the epic menu here, I can find something to write home about. Every Thai restaurant serves spring rolls and chicken-coconut soup; Thai Square's versions lead the pack, and even the carved vegetable garnishes look fresher than at the competition. Specials live up to the definition: Squiggles of "sun-dried" pork ignited with chili sauce and soft-shell crabs, sweet and meaty beasts fried to a shattering conclusion, produce first-rate plates. With more than 100 choices, ordering can be a challenge, but decisions are made easier by enlisting the genial staff for suggestions or asking your neighbors what they like. (Thai Square counts a lot of Thais at its tables.) That said, sliced duck in a tingling red curry (No. 37 ), squid sauteed with Thai basil and chilies (No. 61), and ribbons of beef stir-fried with wide smoky noodles (No. 83) rank as personal favorites. Don't expect much atmosphere from the boxy white dining room, minimally dressed up with travel posters and an aquarium. Do anticipate vivid, varied and fresh flavors -- and what might be the best Thai cooking in the area.