On a surprisingly cold night last week (Mother Nature is apparently PMSing again), I met up with my fake roommate, A, for dinner at Baan Thai, located inside of Tsunami Sushi Lounge on 14th street. At the end of last summer, Tsunami began offering a new Thai menu, in addition to their sushi dishes, under the name “Baan Thai.” The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, so A and I have had it on our list of places to check out for a while. When we arrived around 6:30pm, the restaurant was not crowded at all, in comparison to some of the District’s similar Thai spots (Little Serow, Thip Khoa, Soi 38). After grabbing a table by the window, we looked through the menu which has extremely helpful pictures and descriptions of each dish.
The Chicken Stuffed in Tapioca Skin was our first appetizer, and a fantastic start to our meal. The ground chicken, peanuts and fermented sweet radish are stuffed into tapioca skin, and sprinkled with fried onions. This unique dish was incredibly interesting. The chewy, gelatinous tapioca skin does not look extremely appetizing (with it’s gray color and bubbly appearance), but is sweet and melds together well with the slightly spicy, extremely flavorful bites of chicken. Next up came the Green Mango Salad, which was the perfect combination of sweetness, spiciness, sourness and crunch. We decided to split the Pork Picnic as our entree, as our waitress recommended. This stir- fried dish contains big chunks of meat, peppers, eggplant, finger root and central Thai curry paste, and is designated “very spicy” on the menu. This was not an exaggeration, and the heat was intense. We kept guzzling down water, and at some points I had to take a break from eating to allow my mouth to cool down and my forehead to stop sweating. Even though it took me awhile to get through each bite, I really enjoyed this dish. The large pieces of pork were extremely tender, and the broth was so fragrant (note to self: must look up what “finger root” is) I continued to slurp it down despite the painful heat.
After the fire in our mouths died down slightly, we decided we still had room for dessert. After glancing at the menu, we figured that at $5, we should just both desserts that caught our eyes: the Coconut Rice Custard and the Banana Dessert in Coconut Milk. The presentation of the rice custard (on the left) was adorable, and we dug into the miniature bowls immediately. The warm, creamy custard was silky and not overly sweet but still very aromatic. I was less of a fan of the banana dessert, which had a kind of strange, chalky texture. The coconut milk was also a little too watery.
When the bill came, A and I were shocked at the price. We were both stuffed, and even with ordering two desserts our bill was about $20 per person! That is probably less than I have spent at happy hour on 14th street on an average Wednesday. Overall, a great dinner for a great price at a place I am definitely returning to.