2404 University Blvd. West, Wheaton
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Prices: Most dinner entrees $8 to $9.
Credit Cards: American Express, MasterCard, Visa.
Put Dusit on your list. Its snazzy looks alone set it apart from most of the Thai restaurants in the area. Situated where Thai Hut used to be, it features a totally remodeled dining room that's a knockout. And most of the food is excellent.
In addition to doing the standard Thai restaurant dishes very well, Dusit offers a few outstanding items not often found elsewhere. Prices here run about a dollar higher per dish than at most neighborhood Thai restaurants, but the difference is worth it.
Here's a terrific trio of appetizers: Northern pork is an intriguing mixture of roughly ground pork, peanuts, scallions, onion, lemon and ginger.
Wok beef is very tender beef strips in a wine marinade, perfectly grilled, then dipped at the table in a pungent peppery sauce.
Twice-cooked duck, also marinated nicely, has crisp skin, a beautiful flavor, a lovely dressing of mint, scallion, onion and celery and a hot-tart sauce.
Among the more common appetizers, the crab-stuffed chicken wings are nicely flavored and fried, but in some pieces the batter has not been cooked completely.
The shrimp cake, somewhat pasty-textured and oily, is one of the few flubs here.
The traditional lemon-grass soup is excellent, with whole straw mushrooms and cilantro.
The coconut milk soup is heavier on the coconut than most -- some people may find it overly rich. Either soup can be ordered with very impressive chunks of fresh snapper.
The tofu soup is a delicate masterwork, with a flavorful chicken broth, remarkably fluffy tofu, ground pork, garlic and cilantro.
When it comes to meat and seafood entrees, the standard Thai sauces are all done well.
The best of them may be the traditional white pepper and garlic sauce (here called Dusit sauce).
The shrimp has been very good and generously portioned, but the seafood highlight is the squid, buttery-tender and impeccably fresh -- combine the squid with the white pepper and garlic sauce for an all-round winner.
A couple of unusual dishes are outstanding. The shrimp pot is filled with big plump shrimp, mushrooms, vegetables and vermicelli noodles -- a gem of a dish, with subtle but clear flavors.
The tofu delight combines feathery-light tofu, mushrooms, peas, water chestnuts, ground pork, black beans and chili oil for a marvelous interplay of flavors, textures and colors -- a peppy dish, hot but not painfully so.
Finally, a couple of disappointments: The Dusit fish is a mushy frozen-tasting flounder (the deep-fried snapper filets may be better), and the duck roll is a disk of duck paste with the texture and taste of a too-mild pate.
And a couple of reservations: The coconut milk curries, like the coconut soup, are unusually thick and rich, too much so for us, and the sukiyaki-style noodles are an odd sweet-and-sour creation.
Don't miss the excellent fried banana dessert, which resembles a plate of miniature banana-filled blini, dipped at the table in honey and sesame seeds.