Finding worldly bites for $12 & under.
Curry puff (ka ree pop) fans never had it so well. At Pilin Thai, a family-owned joint in Tysons Corner streaked with LED lighting only slightly reminiscent of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the three fist-sized puffs ($5.95) are cooked to order, arriving as flaky, hand-rolled pastry wrappers.
Inside, soft, sweetly spicy potatoes and onions fill every crevice that steam does not. The best part, as it is with many too-simple-to-be-true treats, is the a-jad garnish, a sweet cucumber and red onion pickle. A departure from the ubiquitous fish sauce-based dipping sauce that appears alongside almost every Southeast Asian appetizer, the a-jad is an unexpected and welcome change, bringing a cool garnish to the savory pastry.
While the ka ree pop is intended to be a shared appetizer, it can be a convenient, filling meal for one. Or, flip through the picture-heavy, laminated menu (a virtual must for authentically ethnic joints) and pair the curry puffs with an order of yum goon cheng ($5.95), a sneakily spicy Thai sausage salad with sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots and mint bathing in chili-lime juice. The street cred is also solid: when I asked my Thai-American friend where she goes out for Thai food, her response was Pilin Thai. Those are some serious bonus points, at least in my book. / Pilin Thai, 8385 Leesburg Pike, Vienna
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