Like the universe, Capitol Hill is ever expanding. Last month, the fourth Sala Thai restaurant opened at 1901 C St. SE, in the Park Kennedy mixed development complex. You’ll find the zesty newcomer between the Stadium/Armory Metro stop and Congressional Cemetery. So far, business is brisk, thanks to neighborhood residents.
Sala Thai’s décor can be described as sleek, with bright lighting and a long, handsome bar in front. Thanks to the large TV, the venue is ideal for football viewing. (However, we opted for a table near the window.) A huge blue elephant mural adorns one wall, with a colorful tree motif nearby. The menu offers an extensive sushi lineup, as well as a selection of popular Thai dishes. The menu will expand eventually, we were told.
Peter chose Pad Thai, the mélange of rice noodles, scallions, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and a trio of plump, perfectly cooked jumbo shrimp. The tangy peanut sauce was well balanced—sweet and slightly spicy.
Paired with golden crispy fried chicken strips, my green curry spiced rice—laced with red bell pepper strips—delivered just enough firepower.
Among other creations are “Pinky in the Blanket” (deep-fried shrimp rolls); tom kha kai (chicken/coconut soup spritzed with lime); po tak (mixed seafood in hot and sour lemongrass soup); beef sukiyaki (cellophane noodles stir-fried with “chef’s “special sauce”); several vegetarian and vegan items. There’s a full bar.
The new Park Kennedy development is growing; soon to open next to Sala Thai is Duffy’s Irish pub. Watch for updates.
The Sala Thai Park Kennedy Bar is open daily for lunch and dinner. For exact hours and more information visit www.salathaidc.com.
Sala Thai restaurants, by the way, have been around for 37 years. Founded by Oy Changsila, the original Sala Thai opened October 14, 1987, in Dupont Circle.
Chicken Delight—Korean Style
Our beloved Nats have departed for the season, but the area surrounding Nationals Park is alive and kicking. Peter and I decided to revisit Bonchon Korean BBQ, 1015 Half St. SE, near the Navy Yard. Perched at the wide comfy bar, we sipped Sauvignon Blanc and a Mimosa. The latter arrived with a Cava (sparkling wine) split. Nice touch. Our friend Katherine sipped green tea.
As we perused the menu, we realized that perhaps the best thing to order here is chicken, presented in myriad yummy forms, especially fried Korean style.
However, I love eight-legged critters, and could not resist the Takoyaki, a beautifully arranged plate of fried octopus dumplings drizzled with Japanese mayo, katsu sauce and showered with bonito flakes. The cephalopods tasted as good as they looked.
Back to poultry: In lieu of fried drumsticks, I decided on a sharable plate of wings. Anointed with garlic soy sauce (other options were “spicy” or “half-and-half”) accompanied by coleslaw, the eight wings were crunchy on the outside, moist inside. Delicious, but three-napkin messy. You can also order wing/drumstick combos, fun for a table to share. Other menu options are potstickers, beef (or chicken) bulgogi, fish-and-chips. Sides encompass white rice, fries, kimchi, sesame ginger tofu salad.
Peter chose the Korean standby, bibimbap, long on savory rice but short on chicken, he said. Katherine ordered japchae, silken glass noodles laced with thinly sliced beef and veggies. While tasty, the dish benefited with a splash of soy sauce.
Lunch for three came to $86 before tip. Service was wonderful. Our server/bartender Issa patiently pointed out MSG-free items to Katherine, who is allergic to the additive.
The word “bonchon,” by the way, is Korean for “my hometown.” Part of a local restaurant group, Bonchon is open daily for lunch and dinner; for exact hours and more information visit www.bonchon.com.
If not already: Chef Paolo Dungca’s highly anticipated Hiraya, 1248-1250 H St. NE, a two-tier Filipino all-day café. Joining Dungca is Juan and Jeremy Canalas. The father-son-duo is also behind Supreme Barbecue in Ivy City and AunTea Boba (various area locations). Hiraya seats 48. Look for Filipino pastries, breakfast sandwiches, lattes made with ube (purple yams), tea from AunTea Boba and silog, the Filipino morning staple made with garlic-fried rice, “runny” eggs and longganisa sausage. Upstairs, seasonal ala carte plates will involve local asparagus, Maryland blue crab, sea grapes (a type of seaweed). The chef will also unveil a $95 tasting menu. For updates and more information visit www.hiradc.com.
Soon to arrive on the “Avenue:” Los Toros Tort-Illa Reform, 217 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Look for mission-style burritos, tacos, salads, guacamole, and nachos. Watch for details.
Literary Feast Returns
It’s back! After a covid-shutdown hiatus, the Literary Feast returns October 28 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sponsored by the Capitol Hill Community Foundation, the fun event consists of dinner parties hosted in Capitol Hill homes. Each repast is themed on a well-known book. Reading the selection is optional (Literary Feast is not a book club). A few days before the feast, the Foundation releases a list of book titles. Participants purchase tickets, select six top book choices, not knowing who is hosting what. Peter and I try to attend every year; previous book themes were “The Other Boleyn Girl” (when Peter dressed like Henry VIII), “Pillars of the Earth,” “Old Man and the Sea.”
Hosting the post-prandial fete is the Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. To purchase Literary Feast tickets and more information visit www.capitolhillcommunityfoundation.org.