Thai Taste Really Tastes Great!

I had dinner last night at Thai Taste by Kob in Wheaton, Maryland with Tyler Cowen, commenter teatotaler, and “econ prodigy” Nathaniel Bechhofer.

The restaurant opened earlier this year, about six months ago. They have a large menu. Tyler offered that I play dictator and order for the group, or at least make an initial proposal. But not knowing what they’re especially good at we decided to challenge the restaurant to simply bring us their best.

This can be more challenging than you’d think. If you ask for the best dishes, remember that the restaurant staff do not know you at all and will thus assume you’re like the median customer who comes in. Asking for their suggestion is just as likely to get you “what most people order” as it is to get you what the restaurant really does best (most authentic, what the staff themselves prefer, what they would offer to their own family who came in).

At first they were a bit reluctant, and started asking questions “do you like.. would you want..” But we finally overcame that hump, and Tyler offered that he and I have been to Thailand (and I’ve been many many times), we do enjoy Thai food as they like it themselves, and that they should just bring us what they think are their very best dishes. “We’ll trust you. So please just trust us.”

Here’s what I learned. The soup is fantastic. They have perhaps the best mussumun curry I’ve tried outside of Southeast Asia. And the catfish was very good as well.

They push the ‘Pattaya Seafood’ but I found that dish to be the most disappointing (good fish, but unsurprisingly very average shellfish).

Overall I was happy with the whole meal across the board.

They aren’t cooking at the level of Elephant Jumps. If you know how to order at Elephant Jumps (which if you read this blog you do) then you’ll do better there. Tyler suggested that the average quality (if you factor in the standard fare a Thai restaurant is almost legally obliged to offer in the states) might be higher at Thai Taste.

For a Northern Virginia boy, heading there at dinner, traffic at the intersection of 495 North and 270 makes the trip a commitment. I won’t go often, but it’s worth going.

Here’s Tyler’s conclusion about the place:

The menu here is huge and I don’t pretend to know it very well, but this is one of the five best Thai places around and on that list it is not the fifth. Definitely recommended for anyone wishing to explore authentic and quality Thai food at extremely reasonable prices.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Have you been to any of the better LA places like Jitlada or Ruen Par? If so, how do the compare?

    When it’s on, I find Jitlada to be the best I’ve had (including Thailand, where I’ve been several times). Unfortunately, it isn’t 100% of the time that it’s on.

    In general, I think shellfish isn’t a good choice (and since you said “unsurprisingly”, you might agree). Makes it too high a price point for most Thai places.

    There’s a very good place in Ft. Lauderdale, Thai Spice. They are expensive, very expensive for a Thai place. But you can get fresh grouper and snapper in several Thai preparations, it’s super.

  2. I can only imagine how hard it is choosing food for the discerning author of “An Economist Gets Lunch”!

    You should sell tickets to a paid dinner with Tyler Cowen and Gary Leff. I’d pay darn good money for that…

  3. Over time my favorite posts of yours have ended up being the restaurant reviews. You can only see pictures of a F/J seat so many times 🙂

  4. @Denny I first met Tyler 18 years ago. He led discussions at a small conference for ~ 14 people that I participated in. Currently he is my boss.

    @beachfan I have not tried Jitlada or Ruen Par. I did not expect the “Pattaya seafood” to be top notch, but they really wanted to push that and did an otherwise great job selecting dishes. That sauce for the dish was quite good.

    Thanks, @Andrew!!

  5. Closer to home, how’s Thai Square? Sietsema has been pumping it for the past couple months, which honestly is usually a red flag for me because at many places I have an entirely different experience from what he claims to encounter. That said, it’s super close so if it was even half the level of Elephant Jumps or this place I would be on it.

  6. @CW Thai Square is pretty good but only if you know how to order there. Not at the level of this place or Elephant Jumps though.

  7. Thai food is OK, but I prefer Vietnamese, especially Hanoi and northern hills one.

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