★★★★★

$$

COURTESY CAMERON LANCASTER Spiced lime sauce coats grilled, skewered pork in the moo yang kati sod dish.
COURTESY CAMERON LANCASTER
Spiced lime sauce coats grilled, skewered pork in the moo yang kati sod dish.

Many restaurants that serve international cuisine tend to stray away from their most basic roots, such as with Mai Thai’s largely Americanized menu. On the other hand, certain restaurants seek instead to serve authentic ethnic cuisine of another country. Soi 38, a new restaurant in Foggy Bottom named after a well-known street food market in Bangkok, does just that, providing a genuine Thai food experience right here in the District.

During a taste sampling dinner, the restaurant served up a variety of spicy meats, vegetables and pastas that were complemented by fresh vegetables and sweet undertones. My group started our meal with prik tod ($7), a chicken and shrimp stuffing with sriracha sauce and ped roti ($8), which has slow-roasted duck and cucumber inside a roti shell. Both combinations were delectable, but the sweet duck meat inside the crisp and flaky dough wrap of the ped roti left the best impression. It had no dipping sauce on the side but instead was drizzled in a lighter textured sauce that enhanced the dish’s flavor without taking away from the meat’s own seasonings.

Another starter was the moo yang kati sod ($8), which was grilled pork skewers with a spicy lime sauce. While the flavors of this dish were well-balanced, the meat was chewier than preferred.

For our main course, my group split four dishes. The first was khao pad sapparod ($16), which was pineapple fried rice with shrimp, cashews, carrots and egg.. Second came  khao soi ($12), which was chicken leg with curry, egg noodles and cabbage. Next was kanom jeen ($14), which is steamed noodles with spicy chicken curry. To finish off this section of the meal was ped krob ($16), which was a crispy roasted duck with basil, chili and garlic sauce.

Of these four dishes, the ped krob became the primary highlight. The duck meat was  crispy without being overcooked. The dominant flavor was sweet with a spicy kick from the chili and garlic flavors. The khao pad sapparod’s fried rice was also impressive, and it had the interesting component of fresh pineapples. This fruit was served in a real pineapple shell, which added to the dish

Amidst the bountiful food, the menu’s variety of drinks must not be overlooked. The first was a Thai iced tea ($3.5), which is a tea paste combined with condensed milk. It is reminiscent of traditional Vietnamese iced coffee, because it is a sweet caffeinated drink. The sweet flavor of the milk dominated the taste, but the caffeine kick and black tea flavor boosted the drink’s appeal. The second drink was a lime ginger fizz ($5), which was served with our main courses. The combination of ginger and citrus is delicious when done right. The sweet and sour tastes of the limeade combine with the spicier ginger syrup, which is a nice mix of flavor but also not too strong to take away from the food.

Finally came two desserts, which were khao neaw saungkaya ($6) and kluay roti ($7). The khao neaw saungkaya was intended to be served with sticky rice with mango, but the restaurant was unfortunately out of the fruit. Instead, we were presented with sticky rice with an egg custard on top. The custard was a tad mushy and didn’t add any flavor to the sweet rice, making it one of the weaker points of the dinner.

However, the kluay roti is made of fresh banana with condensed milk inside a roti wrap, topped with a raspberry drizzle. The roti on this dessert is the same as the one used with the duck appetizer, and there can never be too much of this deliciously flaky dough. There was a marked contrast between this dish’s sweetness and the spicier meat appetizer I had eaten earlier in the same shell, and the roti wrap complimented both of these plates equally.

Soi 38 is a little bit far from campus, but it is also within reasonable walking distance, and it is well worth the trip. The restaurant is not cheap, but also not terribly expensive. Overall, it gives a more genuine Thai experience than most other places in town, and it is a wonderful place to experiment with foreign cuisine.

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