Most Saturday nights my preference is to head from where I live in Silver Spring to downtown DC for dinner. But sometimes it is actually a relief to know I am staying close to home. If we can drive ten minutes to dinner rather than the close to an hour it usually ends up taking to get downtown, that leaves an extra 50 minutes to catch up with the backlog on my DVR. Let’s not underestimate the importance of clearing space on a DVR that’s 89% full. Those “Chopped” episodes add up.
We have plans with longtime friends to go to dinner and a movie. Whoever schedules movie times does not take dinner plans into consideration for those of us who don’t want to see a movie at 9:30 pm. A perfect solution ends up being dinner at Nava Thai Noodle and Grill in Wheaton and an on-demand viewing of Ides of March.
I’ve been to Nava Thai on a number of occasions but it’s been quite some time. Nava Thai has just made its first appearance on Washingtonian‘s 100 Very Best Restaurants 2012. I would have made it back here this year anyway, but of course now that it appears on “the list” I’m a bit more compelled.
I don’t recall a Japanese menu from previous visits, but we’re handed one along with the Thai version. I am here for Thai food so I don’t even glance at other options. The first thing I notice is the lack of vegetarian appetizers. I am with three non meat-eaters so I am a bit dismayed by this. Our server directs us to the curry puffs. I may not have ordered curry puffs if other options had been available. As it turns out I am glad to have the opportunity for the puffs. They are perfectly crisped and steaming hot out of the oven. Inside is a creamy mixture of potato and peas. The flavors tend to the sweet more than the spicy and the curry is subtle. This is a dish I would happily eat again (and probably again).
For my entree I order Floating Market Noodle Soup with beef. There is a vibrant array of flavors and textures: crispy pork rind, fresh crunchy scallions, tender beef, and rubbery meatballs. I am not a big fan of the meatball texture, but the other ingredients more than make up for this.
Every time I dine at Nava Thai when asked about my desired level of spice for my dish, I reply medium hot. Every time I dine at Nava Thai my dish comes out extra spicy. I mean sweat-inducing spicy. I persist in this foolish habit because I am afraid that if I ask for my food to be mild there will be a lack of flavor. Note to self: at Nava Thai medium spicy means extra hot. I guess the fact that I’m sweating while eating does not translate to burning the same amount of calories as a workout. Or does it? I would deem this a destination dish- worth traveling for.
My husband has hot and sour curry fish, which tends towards the sour rather than the blistering hot. The fish itself is not distinctive but overall the vegetables and broth hit the spot.
My friends have sweet and sour fish and mixed vegetables with black bean sauce. There aren’t tons of options that don’t include meat or shellfish but these two dishes are fully satisfying. The fish is lightly battered and while the sauce is heavy, it isn’t cloyingly sweet.
I am enthralled by stories about my friends’ kids recent visit to Africa, so I don’t pay much attention to their dishes. Sometimes I forget about blogging and get lost in conversation. I’m still learning how to multitask in this regard. I do remember to ask for opinions at the end of the meal. The consensus is that Nava Thai is an ideal spot for a casual, local, above average dining experience. My dish is pretty darn delicious and from past experience I would say that there is much left to explore on this menu- particularly for meat and shellfish eaters.
The next day I resume my love/hate relationship with my leftover searing soup. It’s mostly love, but when tears come to my eyes and my throat starts to close, there’s a little animosity there as well. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment because I can’t wait to get back to Nava Thai for dinner and maybe a movie. Perhaps “Some Like it Hot?”
Nava Thai Noodle and Grill, 11301 Fern St, Wheaton, MD
My rating (on a 1-5 scale): 3.6
Washingtonian‘s 100 Very Best Restaurants 2012, 2.5 stars (out of 4)
Washingtonian Cheap Eats 2011 review