I finally tried this place after reading mention of it several times on this board.
First, the service was dysfunctional in this small apparently family run restaurant. I am reminded of the family run businesses on Kitchen Nightmares where everyone is busy running around doing something but no one plays a complete role, dropping the customers in the process. The kitchen and the busboy who cleared the tables seemed to be one only ones on the ball. Getting someone to take your order, give you rice, take your dessert order, or give you a check is like pulling teeth. I got my rice when I was 95% done with my salad and entree. I told the guy that I was done with my meal (what is the point) but he sheepishly insisted I keep the rice. (I hadn't complained or asked since I am a low carber, but the option of having *some* rice with the meal without asking for it would have been nice.) Front of the house can use much improvement.
Pickled Tea Leaf Salad. A winner. I ordered this on a whim. The crunchy texture of the leaf with the broad bean, peanuts and sesame was a unique experience. It reminded me of the Cambodian food that was once available on Columbia Pike.
The entree was chicken in spicy curry with cumin. That was a mistake, a boring curry no better than that at a decent Indian restaurant. I was in a rush and took the advice of the Washingtonian when it came up in a quick Google search. Curry would seem like a boring dish to order, but it is "safe," safe in the sense that it is hard to get wrong but an opportunity for a kitchen to distinguish itself on this most basic sauce of the Southeast. The Washingtonian reviewer who suggested this dish either had a different chef or is way better with words than her palate. They don't distinguish themselves with the curry here.
(I had a similar not so great curry experience at Thai Square this weekend -- much better at Nava Thai in Wheaton.)
For dessert, I had the golden shweji? a cream of wheat cake. (It took two people twenty five minutes to take the order for and deliver the cake.) It was OK. It reminds me of Greek semolina lemon cake but not as moist or dense and without the lemon. It is faintly coconut and without the raisins promised on the menu. The good thing about the cake is the lightness and not-too-sweetness. I still prefer the Greek version. Pass on the menu desserts here.
If I had to go back, I would skip the curry and try some of the fritters, somosas (wasn't in a fried food mood) or the vegetarian stuff like the stir fried bamboo shoots or try more salads and soups, or take advice from the Washington Post review which I just read and seems decently helpful. (Better to come back with friends to sample the menu, but I hate to inflict mediocre places on friends, especially when they have to drive far. Catch 22.)
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