Well, we were in Tysons Corner on Saturday (stayed there overnight, had a rather unpleasant 23-mile drive home in the snow Sunday morning!), and decided to try the Tysons branch of Pilin Thai (in the Pike 7 Plaza on Leesburg Pike).
When in that area we used to go to Tara Thai (the original one on Maple Avenue), then switched to Neisha Thai (Tysons Corner Mall) after several unexciting meals at Tara Thai. Neisha is a bit watered down for the mall customers, but the tom yum goong has a nice heat level and they'll turn up the spice if you ask (I really like their spicy seafood fried rice). My husband loves Neisha's pad thai, which is more peanut sauce-y than other versions.
Anyway, we decided to try Pilin Thai this time. We ordered pretty standard stuff - pad thai, tom yum goong, and pad gra prow talay (mixed seafood with garlic and basil). This was a carryout order.
The pad thai had an odd flavor that we couldn't quite identify - my husband compared it to shrimp boil (but not an Old Bay type). It had peanut halves instead of the crushed peanuts I usually see, and the dry tofu had a slightly smoky flavor. Good, firm shrimp, too. We both liked it.
The soup had the same good shrimp plus a large quantity of tiny halved button mushrooms. They left in the chunks of lemongrass, which was a bit annoying (guess I'm spoiled - we usually go to Benjarong in Rockville, which strains out the lemongrass before finishing and serving). I've always loved in-your-face spice, but Pilin Thai's version of tom yum was more subtle... it seemed tame at first, but the heat builds quickly. The flavors were nicely balanced. I'll get a double order next time!
The flavors in the pad gra prow talay were also well balanced, but I won't repeat this one. The shrimp were good once again, but the scallops were tiny (bay scallops, I guess) and the squid was a little tough (possibly from continuing to cook a bit in the carryout container, so I'll cut them some slack on this for now). The sauce was flavorful, but thin and not spicy enough to rate two stars for heat level. The mussels were the biggest disappointment - they were very small, and two of the seven mussels hadn't opened but were included anyway. The serving size was a bit on the small side, too.
Has anyone here been to Pilin Thai? What should I try next time? (No more mussel dishes!)