50 Best Restaurants 2017: Sense Of Thai St.

A Thai restaurant in Ashburn

Photo by Rey Lopez

I am sniffling. It’s summer, but what’s on the plate is even hotter. The server guided me to it. “Do you like spicy?” she asked. Yes, I assured her. She played tour guide for the menu, pointing to her favorites, especially the spicy ones.

Honesty is my favorite quality in a server. Tell me what’s good; tell me what’s not. I won’t think less of the restaurant if there’s a dish or two that miss. I’ll trust the restaurant more because the staff knows the menu and can help guests who wish to use that knowledge.

She unwrapped a grilled banana leaf to reveal king mackerel smashed with curry paste and coconut milk, a few cabbage shreds and wilted kaffir lime leaves. It was creamy, a little sweet, but mostly spicy. I asked for the spice, and Sense of Thai St. brought it.

I ordered a lemonade from the closest server I could find, thinking the sweet and salty (this version has MSG thanks to the experimental Jeremy Ross behind the bar) would help. It was delicious, but my mouth was still ablaze. And then she brought me a creamy Thai iced tea, allowing me to move on to the curried pork, equally as spicy but also more than just heat with its savory punch cooled by rice and cucumber slices.

Dessert is simple: ripe mango over sweetened sticky rice, a drizzle of thickened coconut milk on top.

MISC: Also order lanni spaghetti.

Sense of Thai St.
Thai | $$
20413 Exchange St., Ashburn

(50 Best Restaurants 2017November 2017)