Restaurants & Bars

Neramitra Report

big o | Apr 12, 2005 06:59 PM

I work down in Crystal City and gave Neramitra a shot for lunch this afternoon.

The space is notably purple and pretty nice, along the lines of Jaleo and Oyamel in that it's high-ceilinged and roomy, though the restaurant's total size is a fraction of those others. There's a slick-looking bar, with ample seating, that people are welcome to eat at. Booths line the row directly across from the bar, and tables dominate the rest of the room. There was a decent crowd around noon, mostly made up of suit-and-tie local businessfolks.

Service was very friendly, though my food came out a little faster than I really wanted it to. I still had a little less than half of my (admittedly large) appetizer left when the entree came out.

My plan was to order according to my Thai favorites, in order to have a worthwhile comparison base, so I screwed that up right off the bat by ordering something I've never had before: Tod Mun ("Shrimp cakes with cucumber relish").

The cakes were very spongy and slightly greasy, though not in a totally unappealing way. They tasted good, with a clean shrimpy taste specked with familiar Thai chili and kaffir bursts -- but, four decent-sized squishy hunks was more than I needed. Definitely a sharer, here. The cucumber relish was actually the ubiquitous sweet sauce with suspended peanut chunks, augmented by diced cucumber. If I visit again, I'd try something else, but wouldn't turn down a piece off of someone else's plate.

I ordered the Kra prow (krapow, ka prao, ka pow, kra pao, etc.) as an entree, and let them go ahead with chicken, which was how it was listed on the menu. Normally, I'd ask for pork or tofu, but saw no harm in letting them serve it as they seem to envision themselves serving it.

This dish is one of my Thai favorites, and my favorite DC-area version thus far (from many locations, included Thai Square) is served at Urban Thai, also in Crystal City. Urban need not worry about losing their crown -- not today, anyway. The chicken was a bit on the overcooked side, and came in a thin version of the usual sauce -- thin in both texture and flavor. The taste actually wasn't that bad, but it really didn't penetrate the chicken at all, and the overall flavor was of plain chicken that had been freshly dipped in an okay sauce. Some red bell pepper, green pepper, and a little holy basil (not nearly enough) rounded things out. White rice was served in a bowl on the side.

On the plus side -- and I'll note now that I have an inhuman tolerance -- I apparently made quite the white-man's plea for heat, because what they served me set my mouth tingling. This was a level most normal folks would give up on after one bite.

I ordered the mango and sticky rice to finish with. The mango was fresh and ripe -- about a quarter of a whole mango, cut in thick slices. The rice had a great texture, sticky throughout with a few crisped chunks around the edge. Covered with a fair amount of sweetened coconut milk, it was sweeter than the more ethereal styles I've tried. I'm a sucker for sugar, and I did enjoy this stuff, but I do ultimately prefer the lighter, slow-down-and-savor versions I've had.

Overall, the meal was okay. Based on what I had, I wouldn't envision people travelling out of their way to visit Neramitra, but I only sampled a small portion of their total offerings, so time will tell as others chime in. As far as I'm concerned, Urban Thai is still the best option in Crystal City when it comes to Thai -- it's a little disappointing that, based on their location, Neramitra is already doing a bigger lunch business.

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