The following review appears in The Washington Post’s 2019 Fall Dining Guide.
Until it changed hands two years ago, Thai Square fit its name all too well. While the cooking was a sure thing, the setting was spartan. New owner Kris Panngern ordered up a redesign, showcasing tea pots and toys, along with brushstrokes of color that add the vibrancy of a Thai market. The fried fish cakes are springy as ever, and the lemongrass broth, punctuated with shrimp and straw mushrooms, retains its tang; Panngern changed the look, but not the previous owner’s chef.
With almost 100 dishes to ponder, a cheat sheet helps. Remember the numbers 7, 17 and 68 on the menu. From the kitchen flow slices of minced pork and shrimp, edged in bean curd skin; nam sod, a porky salad ignited with ginger, red onion, Thai chile and lime; and glossy, honey-roasted duck with fried basil, one of the most popular dishes on the list. Just reading the description tells you why. Not every dish soars (the whole rockfish was dry last visit), but plenty more tends to fly off the plate in the new! improved! Thai Square.
Thai Square: 3217 Columbia Pike, Arlington. 703-685-7040. thaisquarerestaurant.com .
Open: Lunch and dinner daily.
Price: Dinner mains $13-$18.
Sound check: 73 decibels / Must speak with raised voice.