Tag Archives: Thai

Kaliwa — Lunch on 16 January 2020



Lunch du jour is at Kaliwa, another DC restaurant on the Michelin Bib Gourmand list.

As the Michelin Guide puts it,

“If you cannot make a trip to Thailand, or the Philippines just isn’t in this year’s budget, you’re in for a treat. A dinner at Kaliwa, tucked inside the District Wharf, is not just a consolation prize. It’s a true feast, about as delicious as can be imagined outside of a journey across the world. Chef Cathal Armstrong’s authentic and delicious Korean, Filipino or Thai cooking is blessed with serious flavor. ”

Kaliwa is one of a whole flock of first-rate restaurants on The Wharf, a sparkling mixed-use development that revitalized yet another formerly run-down area in DC.

Before my lunch at Supra a few days ago, I knew nothing of Georgian food. My ignorance was like a vast field covered with untrammeled snow. My familiarity with Filipino cuisine isn’t much greater, but it’s enough to have a general idea of what to expect, as if someone had plowed a path through that snowfield. (I will now abandon that silly and laboured metaphor, and try to forget I wrote it. I don’t know what I was thinking.)

Lumpiang Shanghai

Lumpiang Shanghai

This Lumpiang Shanghai was my starter. It was three crisp shrimp and pork fried rolls, each about the size of a cigar. Think Chinese spring rolls, but much tastier and more memorable.

Kai Yaang

Kai Yaang

Chicken for lunch again, but this time it was a wood-grilled half chicken, with a dipping sauce and pickled julienned vegetables. It was excellent, but it filled me up so much that I asked for my dessert to go.

Service was fine, and friendly. People seemed to enjoy working at Kaliwa. I certainly enjoyed dining there.

Mai Thai — Lunch on 23 October 2019

Mai Thai

Mai Thai

Got my flu shot last week, and gave myself a little reward for bravery in the face of that harrowing medical ordeal by having lunch at Mai Thai on the way home.

A Brief Aside

Tyler Cowen, author and proprietor of the indispensable Tyler Cowen’s Ethnic Dining Guide, made one of those observations that seems obvious in retrospect, but hadn’t occurred to me until I read it:  “All food is ethnic food”.

Well of course it is.

“Ethnic food” has become the term commonly used to identify food from Asia, Africa, and Central and South America, but my beloved soupe à l’oignon and confit de canard are just as much “ethnic foods” as my beloved phở and bánh mì.

And my worldview became a tiny bit broader.

Curry Puffs

Curry Puffs

I started my meal with some nice crispy fried wonton stuffed with curry, minced chicken, potatoes, and onions, served with a plum dipping sauce.

Chicken Peanut Sauce

Chicken Peanut Sauce

For the main, I had boneless chicken breast sauteed with fresh ginger in a light yellow curry on a bed of steamed spinach topped with peanut sauce, with a side of jasmine rice.

Visitors to the US from Europe and Asia frequently comment on the relatively huge portion size in American restaurants. (I remember once sitting near a German lady who corrected her server for bringing her the wrong order. “I ordered a small salad”, she said. “That is a small salad”, he replied.)

I was reminded of this when I noticed that during the hour I spent ar Mai Thai, everyone who left the restaurant—including me—was carrying a “doggy bag”.

A very good meal. Correction: Two very good meals.

Royal Thai — Lunch on 24 April 2018

No, that date is not a typo. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, since I’ve spent so much time posting about Belgium. Meanwhile, back here in Washington, life went on. I’ve had some good days since I returned, some good meals, some good media. And I’ve watched a lot of interesting movie and teasers, which I’ll be posting soon.

But first, a quick restaurant note about my first meal back in the states:

Royal Thai

Royal Thai

After a couple of weeks dining on European cuisine, it was nice to be back in the USA, and good old-fashioned American cooking. So for my first lunch, I headed to Chinatown and had Chicken with Eggplant at the Royal Thai.

There’s no place like home.

Chicken with Eggplant

Chicken with Eggplant

2016 Cookery Project — Spicy Thai Shrimp Salad

Spicy Thai Shrimp Salad

Spicy Thai Shrimp Salad

Another good one today.  I made Spicy Thai Shrimp Salad, using a recipe from Matt and Emily Clifton’s Nerds with Knives website.

In the 90s, I got hooked on Vietnamese food.  For every burger-and-fries “American” meal I ate, I probably dined on Ga Kho Gung (Caramelized Chicken with Ginger) half a dozen times.  From there, it was a short step to Thai, which eventually replaced Vietnamese as my default quick casual restaurant choice.

I remember tasting cilantro for the first time.  It stunned me!  From its appearance, I’d thought it was mint, so the taste was unlike what I’d expected, and unlike anything I’d tasted before.

Today’s Spicy Thai Shrimp Salad was my first go at using a Thai flavour profile.  The ingredients included lime juice, lime zest, mint leaves, shallot, fish sauce, Sriracha, chopped peanuts, and, of course, cilantro.  And a pound of large shrimp.

I served it with a side of Jasmine rice.

Just a brief side note here.

This whole 2016 Cookery Project thing is giving me more joy than I’d ever expected.   I’m actually learning new skills, and making things that I’m proud of!  Things that taste good.  Things that I’d be happy to find in a restaurant.

It all ties in with the “be the person you want to become” mindset that I’ve often aspired to, but rarely achieved.

The Project has turned into one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in 2016.

Beau Thai — Lunch on 20 June 2016

I continued my exploration of the Shaw area of Washington this week with a visit to local favourite Beau Thai.  As I’ve mentioned, Shaw is one of the several parts of Washington that have undergone really amazing transformations in the years since the turn of the century.  It’s now the site of one of the hottest restaurant zones in the city, and it seems as if new buildings are going up or old ones are being renovated on every other block.

Beau Thai itself is sleek and trendy.  It’s been named “Best Thai Restaurant” in Washington for each of the last four years in Washington City Paper’s annual readers’ polls.  Meals here are promoted as fresh and authentic.  They’re also inexpensive.

Thai Sausage

Thai Sausage

This was a grilled pork sausage, served with fresh ginger, red onions, and peanuts.  Basic, but good.

Kao Pad Nam Prik Pao

Kao Pad Nam Prik Pao

Kao Pad Nam Prik Pao is fried chicken with a nice crunchy coating.  The heat—and it was sinus-draining, tear-inducingly hot—came from the fried rice with Thai chili sauce.

All in all. a good meal, but I’d question the “Best Thai Restaurant” in Washington award.  DC has dozens of comparable Thai restaurants, which is yet another reason why living here can be so very pleasant.

Nava Thai — Lunch on 19 May 2015

On Tuesday, I went back to Wheaton, Maryland, and rode the longest escalator in the Western Hemisphere from the train platform to the surface at the Wheaton Metro station.  Wheee!  The day’s lunch spot was Nava Thai, which doesn’t seem to have an active web site.

Nava Thai shows up on more than just Cheap Eats surveys.  It has also appeared on the Washingtonian’s “100 Very Best Restaurants” list for four of the last five years.  This is authentic Thai.

Nava Thai

Nava Thai

Service was fine.  I think Thais must be the most polite, considerate people on earth—they make Canadians look like Donald Trump.  When I told the waitress that I was thinking about trying Nava Thai’s famous Floating Market Noodle Soup, but wasn’t sure I could handle a dish w/a three-chili hotness rating, she said there’d be no problem moderating the heat.  (I know.  I should have tried it as it’s eaten in Thailand, instead of going for a Western adaptation, but I’ve got an American palate.)

Nava Thai Floating Market

Floating Market Noodle Soup


This is the Floating Market Noodle Soup.  It’s one of the most glorious things I’ve ever eaten.  I’d put this on a v short list of must-try dishes in DC, along with Rasika’s Palak Chaat and BlackSalt’s Key Lime Pie.

You choose your protein, either beef or pork.  I went with pork, which arrived in three different forms:  Sliced pork, pork meatballs, and crisp pork rinds.   The vermicelli was made onsite, and had me trying to remember how slurping noodles was viewed in Thai etiquette.

And the broth!   I don’t know all the ingredients, but I tasted basil, lemongrass, lime, coriander, and fish sauce.   I finished every drop.

I can’t praise Nava Thai highly enough.

Back in London…

…where travel fatigue had begun to set in.

I had an early lunch at  Addie’s Thai Cafe, a little restaurant that specializes in Bangkok street food, like these delicious fried wontons, stuffed with minced chicken and prawns..,

Addie's pockets

Kio Krob

…and this dish, called “Weeping Tiger,” which was Thai-styled sirloin steak with an aromatic sauce…

Addie's steak

Weeping Tiger

…and then I headed over to Leicester Square, and walked from there to Trafalgar Square, with long stops in the National Portrait Gallery, where I spent a lot of time w/the Tudors and the Victorians, and wondered why the Brontës looked so angry…


Unhappy Sisters

…and in the National Gallery, where I saw the full-sized final version of Lord Leighton’s “Cimabue’s Celebrated Madonna,” which was based on the much smaller preliminary painting that I’d seen at his house a few days earlier…

s Frederic_Leighton_-_Cimabue's_Madonna_Carried_in_Procession_-_Google_Art_Project_2

Image found on the Web

…and which I’ve decided to crop and use as my blog header for a while…

…and at that point, I finally ran out of ellipses.