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Thip Khao Dinner Preview

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I eat a lot. I also work a lot. As a Bitch, I get to go out to brunch—and dinner for that matter—and cross it off the checklist as work. That’s not so bad.

Toward the end of the year, I fell into a bit of a dining rut—working all the time and frequenting the same spots, which are delightful but nonetheless the same spots.

This is problematic, because I am often asked where I like to eat—by friends, bystanders, and the media.

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Thus, my New Year’s resolution was to try even more restaurants in 2016. I made a list in Evernote, largely inspired by those who were also interviewed in this EaterDC list.

First on the list: Thip Khao, for a variety of reasons. First, I’ve heard nothing but good things from a variety of trusted sources. Second, I judged a crab cake competition at the Source back in April and Chef Seng was by far and away the winner. Last, and most importantly, my boyfriend loves Asian food and casual spots for our dinner dates—I knew Thip Khao would be a great choice.

As Washingtonians flock to a few buzz-worthy restaurants like lemmings to a cliff, there was a line at Thip Khao on Saturday night, as expected. We had a cocktail at the bar and the time passed quickly. Plus, they make a pretty decent Manhattan, says the beau.

Seated at a table for two, it was time to get down to business. As we perused the menu, our sweet waitress brought out a complimentary amuse bouche (unsure of the word in Laotian) of cucumbers and a red spicy sauce. This was damn good and I’m confident they do this to get you excited for the meal to come.

As we’re both ravenous carnivores, we knew to order the Siing Heng, sundried beef with ginger and sesame seeds, and the Sai Oua, lemongrass pork sausage with peanut and ginger. The moist, pull-apart beef was absolutely out of this world, and the accompanying red sauce was just the right addition of spicy and sweet.

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Having dined at Laotian restaurants before, I knew the coconut rice lettuce wraps would be sure to wow and they didn’t let me down. The enormous bowl arrives at your table tilled with crispy coconut rice, peanuts, sour pork, lime, scallions and cilantro, topped with spicy chillis for those who dare. You load it onto your lettuce and chomp in—we both made a mess of things we were so hungry and excited. It’s a good thing we’ve been dating for awhile.

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We took a chance on the Sakoo Yadsai, the tapioca dumplings with preserved radishes, peanuts, cilantro and garlic. They were certainly unique, with a moist tapioca shell and a sweet, crunchy red filling. While I’m glad I experienced these dumplings, I wouldn’t order them again.

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For our entrees, we went with pork and then more pork. Selecting the Piing, a lemongrass grilled pork shoulder served with a sweet sticky rice. Off the Jungle Menu—how adventurous!—we selected the Muu Som, a braised, rice-cured pork belly tossed in a wok with mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, ginger, garlic and Thai chilis. The flavor and presentation on both dishes was impressive, but we preferred the lemongrass.

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The desserts looked tempting—rice puddings galore—and I was dying to try the avocado rice pudding but we were simply too stuffed.

Chef Seng and Thip Khao lived up to the hype and we’ve definitely found our new date night spot. Looks like I might be breaking my resolutions already.

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