Pilin Thai Restaurant, located on Broad Street in downtown Falls Church, seems to have a unique way of serving up its Thai cuisine. Thai food options are plentiful in the Northern Virginia area, but diners looking for something more than just a solid pad thai or spicy curry can look to the interesting items on the Pilin menu to be enjoyed within its one-of-a-kind dining room.
The restaurant’s décor hints at the traditional – a large mural of a Thai riverfront scene, an ornately tiled bar – but the whole space comes alive with colors that make the dining room distinctly modern and highly festive. Purple-blue walls butt up against rich red carpeting, and art is rendered not in exact silhouettes and tones, but in boxy, Technicolor shapes. Chic tables, and booths that seem out of a 1950s diner, fill the room, and light shines down on them from wildly scrolled lamps.
Unexpected finds continue upon perusing the menu. Appetizers, divided into hot and cold options between $5 and $8, offer standard options like fried tofu and steamed dumplings, but also some unusual dishes like the Yum Goon Cheng ($5.95), which serves tiny, chewy sausage slices atop a bed of vegetable-dotted lettuce, all drizzled in a thin dressing made hot with pepper and tangy with lime. When ordering the Spring Roll ($4.95 for two rolls), one might expect a roll with layers of wrapping stuffed with vegetables, but the Pilin spring roll strays from the usual. Instead, the roll is a hefty log of ground pork and chicken, noodles, and vegetables, all wrapped in a thin, open-ended shell that is wonderfully crispy against the soft and savory filling.
Ample entree offerings include house favorites, grilled seafood and meats, noodle and rice dishes, a handful of curry options that can be customized with different meats (or tofu), several noodle and rice dishes, and a handful of vegetarian picks.
The Pad Thai ($10.95) combines long, flat rice noodles with tofu, egg, bean sprouts, and crushed peanuts with the diner’s choice of chicken or shrimp (or both for a few dollars more), but ordering the Pad Thai Woonsen ($12.95) serves up the dish with long, clear, needle-thin noodles, which have a bit more crunch than their chewy pad thai noodle counterparts, making for an even more interesting texture combination in the already intriguing dish.
The Ped Pad Gra Prow ($13.95) earns a place of recognition among the Pilin Favorites menu section. The dish, the menu claims, is a top-selling entree at the restaurant. Its taste supports this weighty assertion. Pieces of duck, chopped small, battered, and fried, are served in a spicy sauce with bits of basil and strips of onions. The bright basil flavor settles into the sauce’s spicy backdrop, and the crunch of the fried batter shell around the delicious duck makes for a satisfying dish.
While Pilin does spice right, that doesn’t mean that desserts should go neglected. A little sign boasting the Sweet Sticky Rice and Fresh Mango ($4.95) at the table tempts diners with the sweet treat. The dessert is sheerly what it suggests – warm, sticky rice plated alongside slices of fresh mango. A drizzle of sweet sauce is the only accent, surely because the quality of the mango can speak for itself. The dessert is a simple way to end a meal and dining experience that, in contrast, has plenty of pizzazz.
Pilin Thai Restaurant is located at 116 W. Broad St., Falls Church. For more information, call 703-241-5850 or visit pilinthai.com. Restaurant hours are Monday – Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.; 5 – 10 p.m.; and Sunday: 5 – 9 p.m.