Soi 38 is the chic, upscale reincarnation of GW favorite Thai Place. Thai Place, along with our favorite dingy Chinese and Indian restaurants, were forced to close down by the university when the administration made plans to redevelop the real estate. The owners of Thai Place made the move early and opened a new location, Soi 38, just a few blocks away.
Although the prices are pretty much the same as Thai Place’s, you never would have thought the two restaurants were related. Thai Place was a go-to for its Pad Thai and cocktails, and not for its outdated decor. Soi 38 is trendy, with large gold murals of elephants and ducks on the walls. Overhead, gold snakes slither above diners’ heads in the new restaurant. A reptilian eye stares out at diners from behind the bar. This is one cool-looking restaurant.
Soi 38 serves Thai street style favorites. Their menu even seems more adventurous than Thai Place’s (Pad Thai wasn’t that easy to find on the new menu). The dinner menu is cleverly split up into three categories: basics (there’s the Pad Thai!), a little more adventurous and “go crazy.”
I’ll admit, I’m one of those people who goes to a Thai restaurant and orders Pad Thai pretty much every time. This time I wanted to try something new.
I went with the Gaeng Hang Lay ($15), a dish from the “go crazy” section, made of slow roasted pork belly served in a hang lay curry sauce, peanuts, ginger and sticky rice. The rice was great for absorbing the hearty sauce. The curry was like a stew – warm and spicy. The pork was soft, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. I wish I had gone with a chicken dish. The dish was topped with slices of fresh ginger, which were much too strong. The dish was labelled as mildly spicy, but it got my nose running. Overall, the dish was fine, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. I should have gone with something more familiar.
My friend Heather got her favorite, Massamun Curry ($14). The dish is made with chicken, potatoes, onions and peanutty curry. Heather has had quite a few Massamun curries, and she said that this was among the best. The food was served at the perfect temperature, the spices were good and there were many peanuts, which she was a fan of.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
While the dish I got wasn’t my favorite, the Massamun curry was great and I have a feeling they make a mean Pad Thai. The restaurant’s decor was beautiful and chic and went way beyond anything I expected from the people who previously brought me my go-to college Thai restaurant. Relaxing, ambient music played throughout. The service was just what I needed: someone there to answer questions about the menu and to refill my water, without constantly bothering me. The food came out very quickly, so that’s a plus. I will be back at Soi 38 to try some of their other dishes.
2101 L St NW (Foggy Bottom/West End)
Washington, DC 20037