Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Thai Noy

As the warmest days of summer are upon us, diners are filling the patio in front of Thai Noy on balmy evenings to enjoy some hot cuisine.

The restaurant is one of several other eateries in a plaza in the Westover neighborhood in Arlington. Inside, Thai art lines the narrow dining room on large panels of vivid color and ornate design. The artwork carries over to the tables beneath, which are painted in various floral designs.

The menu features appetizers, soups, salads, desserts and entrées – rice, noodle and curry combinations of beef, pork, seafood, poultry, tofu and vegetables. All dishes are marked on a chili-pepper scale for heat. From no chili pepper at all, to the sole three-pepper dish (the Wild Boar Basil, seasoned with notoriously tear-inducing green peppercorns), diners can choose the amount of heat they’re willing to take.

Starting a meal with the crispy rolls, $5.50 for an order of two, is a mild pick to enter into an evening of Thai cuisine. The ample rolls combine ground pork with crunchy vegetables inside a crispy shell, softened slightly inside by the moist, savory mix. Served alongside a delicious sweet and sour sauce, Thai Noy’s take on this Asian food staple is spot on.

For a more spicy meal starter, the $8 Crying Tiger serves grilled flank steak with a spiced soy sauce atop a bed of lettuce. While the steak pieces are cooked well, the charring on the outside obscures the flavor of the meat. The sauce helps little, bringing flavorless heat and over-the-top saltiness.

When it comes to entrées, Thai Noy cooks up all-star curries. They have coconut milk, and they know how to use it, pairing curry sauces with the wonderful milk to send spicy and sweet flavors into overdrive. In the restaurant’s $13 red curry, the sweetness in the sauce is predominant, but with each bite a heat develops in the mouth that makes the final bite a spicy and sweet masterpiece. The dish is served with rice, allowing diners to sop up every last bit of sauce, but a straw might be just as well-used by curry-hungry patrons, if provided.

A Thai food classic, the Pad Thai at this restaurant has all the standard ingredients – heaps of rice noodles mixed with tiny pieces of chewy dried tofu, scrambled egg, crunchy bean sprouts, a topping of ground peanut, and a slice of lime for some extra zing. The dish, while flavorful, comes up short in texture, as strand upon strand of rice noodles tangle into starchy, sticky globs.

The seafood items used throughout the menu are best sampled in the restaurant’s $17 namesake seafood dish, which combines well-cooked shrimp, scallops, squid and mussels in a zesty chili and basil sauce, a subtle backdrop to the flavors of quality seafood. But just because this sauce takes a backseat to the seafood doesn’t mean Thai Noy can’t do sauces. They can, and they can do it very well, as evidenced by their curries.

A three-piece dessert menu featuring coconut ice cream, ginger ice cream and sticky rice with mango at about $5 a piece rounds out the menu and calms curry-heated taste buds, but with the ample entrée portions, finding room for dessert is a challenge.

Thai Noy offers a great number of dishes, with a variety sure to satisfy any customer. But whatever the dish, if it is slathered in the restaurant’s excellent curry sauce, it is sure to become a favorite for diners looking for a lot of sweet and a lot of heat.

Thai Noy is located at 5880 Washington Blvd., Arlington. For more information, call 703-534-7474 or visit thainoy.com. Restaurant hours are Monday: 11:30 – 3 p.m., 5 – 9:30 p.m.; Tuesday-Thursday: 11:30 – 3 p.m., 5 – 10 p.m.; Friday: 11:30 – 3 p.m., 5 – 10:30 p.m.; Saturday: Noon – 3 p.m., 5 – 10:30 p.m.; and Sunday: 5 – 9 p.m.