Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ruan Thai: The Ugly Duckling

At the end of the movie Shallow Hal, Jack Black realizes that Gwyneth Paltrow may be ugly and fat on the outside but once he sees past all of that, he finds her inner beauty. Such is Ruan Thai. From the outside, you may be tempted to keep on driving... but you would be missing a real treat if you did.

The rough edged exterior gives way to a delightful and intimate restaurant serving up some of the best Thai cuisine around. We've been "Eatin' in Wheaton" lately and Ruan Thai was on the docket for a try.

On your way in, check the specials board in the window. We heeded the chef's suggestions and were rewarded for our efforts. Yum Watercress is a delicious salad of crispy fried watercress, onions, fried squid and shrimp tossed in a spicy/ fish sauce. Yum is right! We were fighting over the last morsels on the plate.

Equally good are the curry puffs. Like a cross between a samosa and an empanada, delicate pastries are filled with a mild potato curry and served with the traditional cucumber pickle. Very nice.

Entrees were also real hits. I had the Pad Prik Khing with chicken. Tender chunks of white chicken sauteed in a fiery red chile sauce with green beans. There were some interesting notes to the sauce and I'm not certain, but I would bet it had ground dried shrimp in it. Truly addictive.

Steven ordered the Panang curry Shrimp. A luscious dish and as good a panang curry as I've ever tasted. Rich, thick, slightly sweet and quite spicy, the panang arrived in a beautiful clay crock. Once the shrimp were gone we enjoyed the remainder of sauce by either slurping up spoonfuls, or drenching the perfectly cooked jasmine rice with it. Like tastebud nirvana.

Service was very friendly and efficient. There are a number a great looking items on the menu that I've not seen at other Thai restaurants. I'm looking forward to many more visits to come.

She might not be prettiest girl at the ball, but she sure knows how to dance.

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