By Stefanie Gans and Rina Rapuano
McLean | Thai | $$
There’s no pad thai on the menu here. In fact, many of the Thai staples American diners have come to know are conspicuously missing. While some might be put off by this, others will appreciate the opportunity to climb out of the green curry rut and revel in the spicy, sour, herbal and fish sauce-scented dishes of Northern Thailand.
Carnivores should not even consider leaving this place without trying the spicy grilled pork shoulder—slices of tender meat loaded with dried and fresh chiles, fresh mint and cilantro, onion and fish sauce. Cracked, toasted rice lends a nice crunch to the jumble. Other menu wins include a starter of tiny chicken wings brightened by lemongrass and an array of aromatics; a whole fried rockfish piled high with cashews, ginger and chiles all swimming in a puddle of pungent fish sauce; and a dessert of coconutty, sweet sticky rice (sporting a fun blue color thanks to butterfly pea flower) topped with a creamy Thai custard. // 1307 Old Chain Bridge Road, McLean